Does the Bible Support the Separation of Church and State?

Every once and a while a Facebook friend will voice opposition to my posts as contrary to the separation of Church and State.   This is especially so for those who are personally against abortion but support the right to an abortion.  (Jimmy Carter)

My thesis is that the Bible does not support the separation of Church and State as it is presently understood.   That present understanding is the separation of God and government.  However, this was not the historic consensus as seen in such symbols as “In God we Trust” on the money of the United States and “One Nation Under God” in the pledge.  It is also reflected in Chaplains offering prayer In the Congress. 

It is true that the Bible does present, for the ancient world, an unusual separation of powers, prophet, priest, and king.  This is a great advance.  However, the Bible teaches that all nations are accountable to God and his law.  If the nation goes too far in perversion, violence, and injustice, it will be severely judged by God.  The Biblical ideal is for the nation to acknowledge God and his basic Law, which is not only written in the Torah but is variously perceived in the nations.  In China, this is called, “the will of heaven.”  In India, it flows from Brama, despite the polytheism and idolatry.  Africans and Native Americans note that law is from the supernatural realm.  

In Amos, Isaiah and Ezekiel, and others, a list of nations is presented as coming under terrible judgment for violating God’s standards.  The Psalms reiterate again and again that the nations are to acknowledge God.  In Psalm 9:10 we read “The wicked will turn Sheol, as will all the nations that forget God.”   This is repeated again and again. 

There was wisdom as a result of a long battle for tolerance in the United Kingdom and America. The idea was that the nation would acknowledge God and his law but would not enforce one sect of doctrinal belief to the intolerance of others.  There was a Church of England but not of the United States.  The United States early on would see Jews as embracing the same moral law from God. Yes, there could be atheist dissenters, but the corporate nation would embrace God. Most state constitutions acknowledged God. I believe it was a mistake that the U. S. Constitution was a compromise that did not acknowledge accountability to God and his Law. Yet in the 1950s we see the prevailing understanding of separation was not according to the Supreme Court of 1962 when Bible reading and prayer were taken out of the public schools.  I remember it well in my Sophomore year.  It was stark.  One day it was there and the next day is gone forever.  The decision was against a 200-year consensus of understanding.  In the movie The Ten Commandments, Cecil B. DeMille spoke in the intermission about the United States as a nation that was accountable to God and his law in contrast to the Soviet Union.  That was in the late 1950s.  

Americans find themselves in a society that has abandoned its historic view of national accountability to God.  As such, the best we can do is seek to foster laws that are in accord with God’s Law.  I have argued that my vote is according to what I perceive to be the platform that fosters righteous laws, which the Bible says is essential to avoid God’s severe judgment.  It is for the candidate that fosters such laws. Indeed, the Bible warns against those who establish unrighteousness by law (Isaiah 10:1)   Such a nation is in for severe judgment.  I do not desire that severe judgment.  Would the day return that the nation would acknowledge accountability to God and his law? 

The Church Quest for Jewish Roots and Applying the Torah 

I have written extensively about this subject, especially in my book Jewish Roots which is a Biblical theology from a Messianic Jewish point of view.  Also, I have written several published papers on this.  Here I want to make a few foundational statements so my readers can fix these as principles for their evaluation of the writings of many who are writing and saying all kinds of things.

1.     The New Covenant does not do away with the Torah or God’s Law.  Though we are now in the New Covenant order, the New Covenant order is one where the Torah is to be applied as fitting to the New Covenant order.  This is an order of writing the Torah on our hearts, an order of the power of the Spirit and an order that preserves the distinct election and calling of the Jewish people.  (Matt. 5:17, 18, Rom. 3:31, Romans 8:4)

2.      Jewish disciples Yeshua continue to be part of their Jewish people and are called to identify and live as Jews.  This includes a pattern of life that is based on the Torah, including circumcision, Sabbath, Feasts and identification with the nation of Israel as our nation.   This pattern of life transcends the existence of a Temple. There is a continuing covenant responsibility for us to so live.  Jewish disciples are also called to identify as members of the universal Body of the Messiah.

3.     Gentile disciples (those from other nations) are called to live out the universal aspects of the Torah and to be in unity and alignment with Messianic Jews, supporting Jewish ministry and the success of the Messianic Jewish movement. (Rom. 11:11-14)

4.     Alignment with the Messianic Jewish community and Israel/the Jewish people calls the Gentile Church to understand the Jewish people and the meaning of their Biblically rooted pattern of life.  Jewish life, the Sabbath and the Feasts have universal teaching meaning for all believers.  Gentiles are responsible to teach and understand the whole Bible which includes the Jewish patten of life.

5.     One way of bringing connection to the meaning of the Jewish roots of our faith is in teaching and celebrating Jewish the Feasts in the general times of their occurrence.  This can also be a way of being aligned with the Messianic Jews and Israel.  The way of doing this is a matter of being led by the Spirit.  These meanings show fulfillment in Yeshua and his first coming and are full of meaning concerning the last days and his second coming.

6.     The exact calendar days for the Feasts are disputed by scholars.  The issue of when to celebrate is thus not a matter of getting the right day, but more about the general vicinity of the time as most appropriate as led by the Spirit.

7.     We must not explain away Col. 2 and Romans 14 on liberty in regard to Sabbath and Feast celebrations.  These strong statements of Sripture are best understood in their ordinary and straightforward way.   This means that though a community may find value in connecting to seasonal celebrations in the Torah, the way of presenting this should steer clear of any sense of “ought” since the celebrations are matters of personal and communal leading by the Spirit.  If the Spirit does not so lead, no one is to judge those in any way who do not so engage through specific gatherings for Feast celebration.

8.     We affirm the Christian days of celebration as appropriate and realize that Good Friday, Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost are indeed rooted in the Jewish Feasts and are seasonally appropriate and indeed may sometimes be closer to the intended biblical calendar than the Rabbinic dating of these times.  The issue is that these celebrations should include a fuller Biblical teaching on the context of why the New Covenant events occurred during the Jewish biblical feasts.  The celebration of the Incarnation at Christmas is also appropriate thought the day of the birth of Yeshua is disputed.  The meanings of the seasons, the hymns, the Bible readings from Luke  1, 2 and Matthew 1 are very enriching and should not be rejected.

9.     The Seventh Day Sabbath Day is as a weekly time of rest is not enjoined upon Gentiles in the New Covenant Scriptures, though it remains a covenant sign between God and the Jewish people and hence a covenant responsibility.  The Sabbath principle of entering into rest is taught in Hebrews 4. During this transitional age there is a maximum flexibility in the Spirit given for Gentiles for application.  This was necessary to see the Church become the Church Universal.  In the early spread of Christianity, there was no seven day week of keeping time in nations where the Gospel spread.  A weekly sabbath would have been impractical and even impossible for many, especially for slaves and employees who made up so many members of the early Church.  This continued in many countries through many centuries.  When a seven day week was embraced in the Roman Empire, a seventh day rest was not chosen.  Keeping the seventh day would have been very hard since under the pagan Emperors it was not fostered by civil governments.  The seventh day sabbath rest does require a level of civil support for many people to keep it as a day of rest.  When the Roman Empire became Christian it embraced a tradition of the first day of Resurrection also kept it as a sabbath.  One can argue about this choice.  It was wrong to attack the seventh day and the keeping of it by the Jewish people.

10.  In our modern times, keeping the seventh day is not to be enjoined for Gentiles.  For many this would mean not having vocations in retail, hospitality and other vocations in our culture.

11.  However, there are many ways that Christians may appropriate the meaning of the Sabbath.  Again, this is a matter of being led by the Spirit while supporting Jewish people who have a covenant responsibility for the seventh day Sabbath.

A.    One can be led to keep the seventh day and do errands and work on Sunday, even if part of Sunday morning worship in church.

B.    One can keep Sunday as both the celebration of the resurrection and as a day of rest.  This was the practice of most of the historic churches.  We forget  how the historic Church day of rest was deep and renewing since it is no longer practiced in modern secular cultures.

C.     Families might make Friday evening a special Sabbath celebration for family and fellowship while not making the daytime hours of the Sabbath a time of rest.

D.    Families might make the close of the seventh day Sabbath Day a family celebration that leads into the celebration of the resurrection.  This in Jewish practice is the time of Havdalah, the separation celebration of the end of the Seventh day and the first day.

In all of this we seek to see liberty and being led by the Spirit the rule and no “oughtness” or statements that universalize, “it would be better to” or “more of a blessing to” etc.  If something is more a blessing and better, it then leads to “oughtness.”  It is better to say that all are called to have an understanding of the Feasts and Sabbaths and the biblical patterns of Jewish life and how they are brought to fullness in Yeshua and have fulfillment to some in the last days and in the Age to Come.  Individuals and communities may seek the Lord and find his leading for establish understanding.  The celebration of the Feasts near to the times of the actual Feasts is one way the Spirit will lead some churches to do this.  Celebrating with Messianic Jews would be especially enriching.   

Abraham Piper and Questioning Hell

Abraham Piper is the son of one of the more famous Evangelical Pastors and scholarly writers, Calvinist John Piper.  Pastor Piper has been popular at Wheaton College, his alma mater, for his stimulating writing and preaching on loving and enjoying God.  His son has left the faith and has built up quite a following on Tik Tok and often includes anti-Evangelical diatribes.  

As an apologist and professor for almost 50 years, I often find the objections to biblical faith to be shallow.  I spent three very intense years in skepticism (1967-1970) and raised every kind of objection to biblical faith and belief in God that you can imagine.  I actually had a ten-inch card file listing objections.  After returning to faith, I spent a wonderful second year of graduate school studying many subjects that confirmed my faith.  Then in during my first year of marriage, I was hired to teach apologetics at Trinity College (today University).   I also enrolled at McCormick Seminary.  Some of my professors were ribald skeptics.  I found the objections they raised to be amazingly shallow, especially after what I had just been through.  Today’s new skeptics, young adults and others who have left the faith are intellectually shallow at an amazing level. I find most of their objections to be emotion based, though we all have to deal with the question of why God allows evil.  This has been brilliantly answered form Augustine to C. S. Lewis, though there is mystery.  Today, my summary of apologetics is simple (I did write  a text book on Apologetics) .  First, if anyone reads the Gospel of Luke and then Acts and honestly asks how these writings can even exist, they will, if honestly seeking the truth, conclude that these accounts are true.  Of course, design in the world and the miracles today are great confirmations. 

One of Piper’s objections to Evangelicalism is the doctrine of Hell, though it is the classic doctrine of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Churches as well.  It seems barbaric to him that God would consign anyone to the torture of Hell forever.  And if we think people are going there, then we should do nothing but seek to win people to faith so they would avoid it. Any other activity would be wrong.  Of course, this is not the way witness works and such total efforts would not be successful if not led by the Spirit.  Indeed, evangelism requires the power of the Spirit and most Christians have had to be witnesses while raising families, working in some kind of business etc.  However, we all need to check ourselves about our passion for evangelism.  

The objection to Hell has been answered by many. The main reason for Hell is the consequence of the serious level of sin in spurning a Holy Creator God.  This is the greatest sin of all.  Sometimes I imagine that people who did not come to repentance and the atonement of Yeshua will have to experience all the pain they caused in their sin against others. 

However, interpretations of Hell vary.  Most realize that all just being saved and forgiven no matter what (universalism) cannot be right.  The acid test in response to an easy universalism is Hitler.  Though we can add many others to a list of the grossly evil.  Somehow, we know there must be a terrible punishment for Hitler like people.  Yet universalism persists. Ernest Campbell of Duke Divinity School argues for it.  He was a student of my beloved New Testament professor, Richard Longenecker and frequently expresses his appreciation for him.  

Others, however, interpret Hell differently.  For some it is temporary though it can be a very long time on the basis of the degree of sin.  Then there is the annihilation view of Hell, such as finally embraced by the great Evangelical Anglican John Stott.  Some also add to this that the final annihilation will be only after suffering the degree of punishment for the evil that was committed.   C. S. Lewis famously held that Hell was a choice that the rebellious make.  In his view, such evil leads to personality disintegration.  So the person who goes to Hell does not fully cease to be without a trace, but analogously to half-life, they are less and less there as a person.  Others simply assert that eternal suffering of some kind is fitting to the rebellious.  Rare are those who would state as believers did centuries ago that observing the suffering of the damned would bring joy to the righteous in recognizing the great justice of God in his judgment.   

I approach the doctrine of Hell quite comprehensively in my book Heaven, Hell and the Afterlife, What the Bible Really Says. Of course, I recommend it.  The key thing to remember is that Yeshua died for our sins, and if we accept his offer to enter his Kingdom and to be born again, we will not go to Hell.  If He is our Savior and Lord, Heaven and the Age to Come on Earth await us. 

Apostolic Ministry and Authority

My new book Apostolic Ministry and Authority addresses the role of apostles today and responds to the ongoing controversy on this issue.  It answers the question on whether or not the teaching of the Bible would lead us to expect that apostles and prophets would continue to be raised up by God and have important roles in the Body of the Messiah until the second coming.  How are such distinguished from the original Apostles who have the authority even to write the inspired Scriptures which alone are our final authority? 

I come at this form an exegesis of all relevant passages in the Bible and the Church historical background.  It is important to see what the early Church Fathers believed about apostles and prophets and the connection of their functioning to the role of overseeing bishops as it developed in the second century.  How does this relate to the idea in the Church Fathers of the elders of the city?  

Then biblically, what is the extent and limit of the ministry and authority of apostles?   I come at this from broad experience in denominations as well as the new church streams.  How do we embrace the blessings of the different leadership roles in Eph. 4 and avoid the abuses that have taken place in some streams.  

This book will show that apostles have always functioned in expanding and strengthening the Body of the Messiah.  It is not a long read, but an important one. 

Near Death Experiences: Resurrections 

The last issue of the Jerusalem Post Weekend Supplement there was a full spread on near death experiences with a minor theme on those who experience realms beyond this life.  It also touched on reincarnation and the memory of past lives.   David Brinn was the author.  The article in general was quite open and did not deny the possibility that people with such experiences were entering into a “real reality.”  The supernatural element of information that could not be naturally explained was presented by a few.  However, the whole tone was more “new age” rather than biblical.   The author claimed that Judaism generally discouraged questions about life after death.  I consider that to be a misunderstanding on his part.  Yes, mainstream Judaism did discourage speculation with some exceptions, and until the mystical movements of Kabbalism there was no emphasis on such realms.  However, this does not mean that Judaism was not clear on the doctrine of life beyond the grave.  Indeed, Judaism affirmed much more than a non-bodily existence that survives death.  Rather it affirms the resurrection from the dead and the participation of the resurrected in a glorious life on a totally renewed earth.  The idea is that the righteous who have died must have an opportunity to experience the glory of the Age to Come.  Isaiah 27 and Daniel 12 were both foundations.  Brinn does not even mention the resurrection.  What a gap!    

The article also gave space to a medical expert, Professor Shahar Arzy, the director of the Computational Neuropsychiatry Lab at Hebrew University.  Though voicing sympathy for those who have these experiences, he attributed them to a brain state and not to a real experience of other realms.  

What is my response?  First, I am glad for information that shows that the material world of sense experience is not the whole of reality.  However, without a biblical foundation for interpretation, we can really be led astray to a kind of new age salvation universalism.  

I first heard of near death experiences though one of my members in Chicago in the 1970s, Dr. Marshall Browdy, a professor of education at Northwestern University. He spoke of Elizabeth Kulber Ross and Raymond Moody.  I read Moody’s book Life after Life.  I gave credit to the accounts of people but was troubled that everyone reported very positive experiences with heaven, angels, relatives etc. How could that be if the Gospel is true?  I did indeed think the experiences showed that the soul transcended the body and that the information provided in these experiences did not have a natural explanation.  This included information about others they had no way of knowing and descriptions of what was happening around them.  They described the surgeon, what the nurses were doing, and much more.  They described relatives in the waiting room with information that was later confirmed.   It was not until I read heart surgeon Dr. Maurice Rawlings, Beyond Death’s Door, that I gained a firmer handle on the subject. Rawlings presents cases of people that go to Hell.  He argues that the experiences are so traumatic that unless the doctor interviews patients immediately after being revived, they will suppress the memories and never speak about it. Therefore, only good NDEs are usually reported.  I since that time read biographical accounts of others who went to hell.  With this information I decided to include information on NDEs in my apologetics text book, The Biblical World View, An Apologetic.  

It is important that we do not build doctrine on the basis of NDEs. NDEs are an evidence for realms beyond this sensory realm and prove that the soul transcends our bodily life.  I cannot credibly explain away that evidence.  Recently a very solid Christian pastor and theologian, John Burke summarized the evidence and put everything into a very solid biblical interpretive framework.  If the reader is aware of important Orthodox Evangelical leaders, it is quite amazing that his book was affirmed by philosopher Dr. Gary Habermas of Liberty University, apologist Lee Strobel, distinguished philosopher J. P. Moreland of Biola University and others.   

Here are some concluding thoughts.  The most astonishing and powerful near death experiences can be understood in a biblical way.  Those with positive experiences are either believers in Yeshua or in a place of moving toward faith in Yeshua.  Those with the experiences of Hell who were revived and turned to Yeshua are a great story of grace.  Amazingly, not all did respond to Yeshua.   In addition, when there is no heartbeat and no brain waves, I don’t think we should speak of near death experiences, but death and resurrection experiences.  They are only said to be near death due to the fact that the people were revived. The idea is that if they were really dead, they would not have been revived.  However, resurrections form the dead are documented in the great study on miracles by Craig Keener.  The death and resurrection experiences, whether resurrected by prayer or with medical processes in addition to God sending the person back, are a very strong apologetic evidence for the truth of our faith.  The professor who sought to explain it as only brain states did what all such rationalists do, they refuse to really deal with the information content that is presented by the resurrected person.  Attempts to do so on a naturalistic basis are lame.  The information content is stupendous. As Burke notes in his excellent book, this is more evidence for the truth of our biblical faith.  I think the term “near death experience” should be replaced with death and resurrection experiences for when the person had no heart beat and no detectable brain waves. 

Luke-Acts, Where I Most Live in the Bible 

My favorite part of the Bible is the Luke-Acts compendium of Luke, the travel companion of Paul.  As a skeptic some years back (1967-1970) I was intrigued by the statement of the great apologist and Fuller Theological Seminary President, Dr. Edward John Carnell, who stated that “Faith is trusting in the sufficiency of the evidence.” I think this is correct, but the definition of what counts as evidence has to be broad including the witness of the Spirit to the heart.  Israel was to trust in that evidence after the Exodus and failed to do so.  When I returned to faith, I was very moved by the beginning verses of Luke, that he sought to present an ordered account of the events of the ministry years of Yeshua and his life, death and resurrection based on the “eyewitnesses.”  Luke and Acts is powerful testimony.  I ask people to just read these books and allow the credibility of these writings to sink in.  They are hard to explain away, and the best explanation is that they describe what really happened.  Dr. Richard Bauckham of St. Andrews University, wrote his great work, The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimonies, based on the words of Luke.  Bauckham is considered by many to be one of the very top New Testament scholars in the world.  Our friend Dr. Craig Keener wrote his magisterial commentary on Acts in 3 volumes!  He is also one of the world’s top New Testament scholars.  

In my reading cycle when I get to Luke, after reading it, I skip John and then read Acts.  After I am done with Acts, I read Luke and Acts again.  Then I go on and read the rest of the Bible.  When I came back to faith in the Spring of 1970, the writings of Luke played a major role. I live in Luke and Acts more than anywhere else in the Bible. What do I see in Luke-Acts.

  1. All of the Gospels portray the love of Yeshua.  However, in my view, Luke is the most loving portrayal.  Think of his healing love for the crowds. Yes, this is in the other Gospels but there is a special touch here.  Then think of the parable of the Prodigal Son, the 100 sheep with the one gone astray and the Good Samaritan.  Yet, Yeshua is not just a tame grandfather but his anger at religious hypocrisy comes through loud and clear. There is no compromise with sin, but forgiveness is offered to all who will turn, repent and give allegiance to Him. 
  2. The descriptions of the miracles of Yeshua are the most clear and believable; parallel to Mark but again with a special Lukan aspect.  Special love is also revealed in the miracles. The matter of the signs and wonders done by Yeshua is most wonderful.  This continues in the most marvelous way in Acts.
  3. Then there is the account of the outpouring of the Spirit without which the progress of the Gospel cannot be explained. 
  4. The Jewishness of the Gospel is sometimes not emphasized since Matthew is written to Messianic Jews and noted at the most Jewish Gospel. However, Luke’s narratives of the birth of John the Immerser, and the birth stories of Yeshua are so very Jewish.  The prophetic words of Zechariah, Miriam and Simeon, are very Jewish and enshrine the ultimate hope of Israel’s national salvation.  The account of the Last Supper Passover Seder alone among the Gospels shows the authenticity of the Seder in two cups of wine.  Yeshua says the first blessing over the wine at the beginning of the meal, and then the bread is broken and made to symbolize his Body given for us.  However, only after the meal is the cup taken again and made to stand for his shed blood.  
  5. The book of Acts continues the amazing story with Shavuot/Pentecost and then the miracles continue.  Signs and wonders were a key to the great expansion in Israel and then again in the ministries of Barnabas and Saul and then in Paul and Silas to the Gentiles.  The miracles in Ephesus are a key window into the expansion.  Note as well that the synagogue is so prominent in the book of Acts and the expansion of the Gospel. Or how about the amazing story of Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi, and the story of the earthquake and the conversion of the jailer. 
  6. The theology of Acts is totally Messianic Jewish.  Jews are shown as continuing in loyalty to their Jewish calling while Gentiles are not called to live a Jewish life.  Paul makes his profession of Jewish calling, loyalty and observance throughout the last chapters of the book. 

Luke and Acts accent the evidence of the supernatural and the miraculous in page after page, but are given with Luke’s amazing and accurate description.  Two generations ago, Sir William Ramsay in St. Paul, Traveler and Roman Citizen, catalogued he historical accuracy of Luke, well beyond any previous or contemporary historians.  Some doubted, but I. Howard Marshall in our generation re-presented and updated the convincing evidence in his Luke, Historian and Theologian.  

Luke presents massively sufficient evidence for faith, enabling us as Carnell said, to “Trust in the sufficiency of the evidence.” I love the faith boost that comes from reading these books.  Now as we progress from Passover to Shavuot/Pentecost, why not read the books of Luke and Acts in preparation for the next Feast.  

The Great Apostasy 

“Let no one deceive you in any way, for the Day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the one destined to be destroyed.” II Thes. 2:3 TLV

The other day in my prayerful reflections during devotions, I was reflecting on the great apostasy.  The translation in the Tree of Life Version, a Messianic Jewish version, does not use the word apostasy, but rebellion.  The idea that has been most prevalent in the Church has been that this refers to a great apostasy of part of the Church.  This is known among Roman Catholics and though not an official doctrine, the idea of a great apostasy is well known. Protestants historically did not think of the Roman Catholics since they were already written off as in apostasy.  Rather the Evangelicals of 80 years ago saw this as the apostasy of mainline Protestants who gave up the classical definitions of biblical authority and were embracing critical theories of the Bible and questioning classical doctrines.   The return of the Lord is near they thought.  

However, some 80 years later I am wondering if the great rebellion or apostasy is not about the Church per se though it would certainly affect the Church.  I am thinking about the rebellion in our present western culture against God’s creation order itself.  We are presently seeing a level of this rebellion beyond anything I know of in my study of world history.  Theologians speak of common grace, the grace that perceives aspects of the Law of God such that societies are preserved though they do not have the Gospel or the revealed Law of God.  Ancient China spoke of a pattern of life that was enjoined by heaven that was taught by Confucianism.  Lao Tzu spoke of the Tao, the way, that also enshrined such principles that were rooted in some level of transcendent reality.  In Hinduism, laws of right and wrong determined one’s fate in the laws of Karma and the wheel of birth and reincarnation until one attained righteousness sufficient to escape and attain the bliss of heaven.  African tribes knew of transcendent laws that bound them as did native Americans.  We can go on and on.  

One thing common to all these cultures is the clear distinction of male and female.  Sometimes that distinction was defined in ways that severely oppressed women, as in Chinese culture.  Indian culture had much more romantic notions of the relationship of men and women in their old myths.  It was clear that women were distinct, had monthly cycles, produced and nursed babies and then experienced the end of that time in menopause.  Men had a whole different physiology. Homosexual attraction was known in the ancient world and the response to it varied.  However, the idea that men were not really men and women not really women was not rooted in any of the ancient cultures.  C. S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man described the common grace ethical standards common in many cultures.  Of course, in the Western world, the dominant view came from the Bible and taught that God created humankind as male and female. No other category is in mind, though we understand that rarely after the fall there are rare genetic aberrations of dual sexual characteristics.  Now the culture of the west is in a radical rebellion against the binary biblical presentation and thus also against the binary idea of most cultures. We are seeing a radical rebellion beyond anything that has ever taken place in history, against the creation order itself.  And this does influence weak church leaders to go along with some of the gay agenda in amazing compromise.  One friend who is a Bible school leader spoke of this as the running out of the grace of common grace.  However, it is well to look a little deeper and see the progression. 

The big idea of rebellion in the 19th century was naturalistic evolution developed by Charles Darwin.  His idea was big and radical.  It was that the whole of earthly life, the flora and fauna, could be explained by chance mechanisms from the inorganic to the simplest forms of life and then by natural selection leading up to the pinnacle of evolution, due to their ability to speak and reason and understand, human beings.  The idea seemed so powerful that some Christians and Jews tried to make peace with the idea of God and evolution by positing theistic evolution where God was involved in the process.  However, we should make no mistake about it, the big idea is that any appeal to design or a designer is superfluous.  I have written about this extensively.  It does not matter to these theorists that this idea is ultimately incoherent.  That the leading American philosopher, Thomas Nagel, in his book Mind and Cosmos, shows the systematic incoherence, hardly makes a dent in the culture.  He instead is vilified as having left the reservation.   That the leading former atheist and British philosopher of science, Antony Flew, came to the same conclusion does not matter.  Several former atheists as well have come to the same conclusion.  Nagel argues that the reason the evidence cannot break through is that people do not want to believe in God. Naturalistic evolution is their preferred narrative or myth.  Evolution, however, did gives us fixed categories since male and female perpetuate the species and the rebellion against this was not in view.  Perhaps there were genetic or environmental reasons why some would be homosexual, but homosexuality was not a favored orientation since there is no survival of the species value in it.  The aberrations are tolerated but the idea of men being men and women being women in general was still very much held by evolutionists.  After all, from a genetic point of view, every cell in the body was either male, xy, or female, xx.  Scientific naturalism actually led to some fixed notions of human nature as genetically and behaviorally determined.  The idea that free will was an illusion was common.  With genetic determinists, all is determined by genes, but behavioral naturalists like B. F. Skinner saw the genetic component but with higher animal organisms, all was determined by operant conditioning.  All of this was part of scientific naturalistic modernism.  This entire atheistic philosophy was a most profound rebellion against God.  

Post Modernism rebelled against Scientific naturalism and its determinism.  Rooted in French Existentialism, these folks argued the consciousness itself changed the game of human life completely since one can now choose any orientation to life.  Existence precedes essence, means that there is nothing essential to human nature.  Rather the ego knows itself to be radically free and can choose any lifestyle that can be envisioned.  This leads to radical relativism.  This radical relativism is also atheistic.  There is no meta narrative, that is no story to explain our origins or destiny from a transcendent reality or God.  This philosophy is the height of rebellion.  The post moderns choose with no ground a Marxist or other norm where all human beings are to be included as equal whatever their orientation.  There is no defense for this ethical norm since it is not based in anything but raw assertion.  And raw assertion is all we have left on the basis of this philosophy.  Hitler and Nazism, now hated, was raw assertion as well. The rebellion against God’s creation order for men and women is profound and as deep as one can imagine.  It leads to supporting the choice of a children, a boy to self-define as a girl and to support his choice even by hormone suppressant treatment and surgery to cut of the genitals and to create an artificial vagina and for the girl to cut off her breasts and to create an artificial penis.  Though only a small percentage wants to do this, their choice must be validated and fully affirmed.  Parents themselves cannot stand in the way and social services might see to it.  So inclusive must we be that we must have neutral language that no longer uses male and female pronouns but neutral pronounces so that transsexuals will not feel marginalized.  If you think this is exaggerated, look up Nancy Pelosi’s rules for language in the congress.  Full including means not speaking of men and women or boys and girls for these very terms will leave people out.  Sexually, among consenting adults, all arrangements must be affirmed, homosexual couples in fidelity, homosexuals not in fidelity, bisexuality, and polyamorous relationships. Indeed, the traditional family, called the nuclear family (this was not the traditional ideal by the way, but the extended family supporting the uniqueness of a couple and their children) is rejected as a tyranny.  Anyone who disagrees and speaks up about it is accused of hate speech and called a homophobe and a transphobe.   This fits the program of the late post-modernist, Herbert Marcuse, who saw redefining language as a key part of power assertion.   The socialist paradise requires overcoming the backwardness of the nuclear family. 

This is the deepest rebellion that I know of in history and could be preparing the way for the great rebellion under the Antichrist.  Maybe the Antichrist will restore religion and present a new age god who is inclusive of all sexual orientations.  We have never seen anything like this. In addition, the apostasy from common grace affects some in the Church, even some who claim to be evangelicals who profess a falsely called “love” which is not love.  Love seeks the destiny fulfillment of each person in this life and eternal life.  It warns to flee from the wrath to come and to avoid the destruction of Hell.  It is as in the days of Noah, and one can see with the world going this way, the terrible judgment of the book of Revelation is just.  I did not mention China in this article  There is the rebellion in China to the will of heaven views of ancient Chinese philosophy and the elevation of man in an atheistic system of control that brings its own judgment. 

What then is our hope?   It is that the in these times of darkness, the book of Revelation envisions a true Church with great power gaining a great harvest, including 144,000 from the tribes of Israel.  The eternal Gospel is proclaimed and a great harvest from all peoples will not be thwarted.  (Rev. 7, 14)   God is more than up to the challenge of this great apostasy. 

 

The Torah And Serious Commitment To Application

As a student at Wheaton, I was able to study under the famous philosopher, Dr. Arthur Holmes.  He was fond of calling for us to engage in world viewish thinking.  This meant that the Bible provides us with the foundations for thinking about every sphere of life and engaging every academic discipline from a Biblical perspective.  To do this, we have to know the Bible and its theology well and what it teaches in every subject.  This includes our relationship to God first of all, but then marriage and family, neighbors, civic life, law and justice, the courts, artistry, social sciences, science, economics and much more.  Christian worldview thinking is not possible for people who think that Torah has been done away.  Much of what the Bible has to say on the different spheres of our existence is based in the Torah.  The disturbing thing is that most Christians do not think this way.  They think that the “Old Testament” is a past book.  It provides the predictions of Yeshua and some good devotions in the Psalms, but that is the end of it for them. They have no idea of the Torah being the foundation for justice issues and the key to our understanding and involvement in culture.

However, the problem is not only Christians, but Messianic Jews.  The professions of Torah loyalty are often merely a matter of commitment to aspects of Jewish specific law, circumcision, Sabbath, Feasts, foods, and often Rabbinic traditions.  These are important aspects of our covenant as Jews, however the universal is what Yeshua called the weightier matters of the Torah. Often the Messianic Jewish approach is shallow. Sometimes the Torah is compromised by Rabbinic approaches that do violate the heart intent of the Torah and like Yeshua said, “make void the world of God by traditions of men.”

The Barna organization estimates that only 7% of Christians have a worked-out world view. This is why our political and social disagreements are often based on surface arguments and do not get to the root of the issues.  I think when I have said that I vote for the leaders and party that take us more in the direction of God’s Law, I think that goes over the head of many.  The idea that the Torah will give us direction for the major issues of our time is not perceived.  Historically, many did believe this, from Arminian Methodists to Reformed Calvinists.  Brilliant scholars like Dr. Walter Kaiser, former President of Gordon Conwell still argue this.  I try to show this in my book, Social Justice.  But it is more than that issue.  The Bible gives us a framework for the purpose of art, literature, science, and so much more.  We have to study the Bible with an eye to its implication for all disciplines.  I think many are arguing over issues without the foundation first in place, a true and deep biblical understanding.  The lack of this understanding is why some of our young cannot address the movements of sexual liberation in our culture from a compassionate, but Torah based perspective.  It is why some are given to socialism.  Unless we discuss the foundations in the Bible we are only ships passing in the night in our interactions.  We do not really connect. Our Tikkun books, authored by Dr. Michael Rudolph, Torah in Messiah, provides a good beginning to see how Torah can be applied today.

The Devil’s War Against Creation Distinction

Because this is fresh in the news, and I wrote a book related to the God’s creation order, I write this article as God makes distinctions in creation for mutual blessing in an order of interdependence.  One of those wonderful distinctions are male and female that enrich our lives in so many ways.  Of course, we think about marriage as one of the highest expressions of mutual blessing and interdependence to come from the male and female distinction.  However, mutual blessing sometimes comes from the very different natures of male and female. They have different insights and operate in different ways.  It is sometimes difficult to define the differences with clear lines. Those who have studied the theory knowledge know that no definitions are airtight.  All definitions have fuzzy edges and have exceptions to the definitions or descriptions.  However, that does not mean that the general descriptions of differences are not legitimate.  Those descriptions should not preclude those who do not seem to fit the way of the general patterns of distinctions from fulfilling roles and directions that do not fit the general pattern.   And culture does have influence on how distinctions are presented.  However, there is a distinction between male and female that greatly enriches our lives.

Right now, we are seeing a war on sexual distinction, that God made us male and female.  Recently, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops put out a statement warning about new policies by President Biden supporting radical abortion promotion and radical gender confusion.  They pointed to the creation order of male and female and said that this should be embraced by society. They were not speaking against basic civil rights for LGBTQ people but against the promotion of a way of life that does not embrace and promote the general truth of creation distinctions in sexuality and traditional marriage and family.  The Biden administration then put out an executive order that required girls and women’s sports teams to accept men who identify as females.  This is very destructive to women’s sports and all the gains women have made.  The Democratic House of Representatives now seeks to put out rules eliminating gender language and to replace them;  no more father, mother, brothers, sister, aunt or uncle, etc.!   One pundit joked that we can not celebrate the first female or woman Vice President!  We should not assert that she is a woman in a transgender world.  There are people who say we should drop the terms man and women.

So why is this happening?  It is because Satan hates God and his creation.  His creation distinctions enrich life and bring joy to God Himself.  Satan seeks a leveling and destruction of the creation order itself.  His followers especially are part of the thrust in destroying monogamous heterosexual marriage and family.  Radicals have historically seen the traditional family as a barrier to an equal and socialistic society.

What is our response?  It is to be zealous to preach the Gospel and to proclaim the truth of the Law of God and his creation order, and to not back down.  Hope it motivates you to get my book!   

Powers Of Light And Darkness

Angels, Demons and Spiritual Warfare, What the Bible Really Says

There are so many practices in spiritual warfare that are practiced by some segments of the Christian and Messianic Jewish Communities.  Some claim Scriptural warrant, but when you look at the texts in context, they do not mean what is being extracted from them.  Some of the interpretations are what we call isagesis, reading in, verses exegesis, explaining what is really in the text.  Some practices claim to be based in the leading of the Spirit.  Our book seeks to understand both what the Bible really says and what can be credibly claimed as being led by the Spirit.

To answer our questions, we have to first survey the Bible and present that it says on angels, demons and spiritual warfare.  Spiritual warfare is important in gaining ground for the Kingdom of God.  What are the most important biblical on angels and demons. What do they do?  What is their power?  How do we best oppose them on the basis of biblical teaching.

In addition, we have the testimony of leaders from various nations that engaged in operations that seemed to have a major effect in rolling back the forces of darkness, including commanding those forces to let go.  I have been in prayer meetings where people addressed the principality over city, sometimes by name.  At other times they have addressed the Prince of Persia or other demonic ruling powers.  Should people be doing this?

We hope that this book is enlightening and brings biblical balance and advance to the issue of spiritual warfare.