Archive for church
A friend relayed to me a remarkable quote from a recent sermon at his congregation:
“And if I thought that you could substantially change human behavior by laws then I might think about becoming a politician, but I have zero faith in politics to actually change the greatest problems on this planet because you can make all the laws in the world but that would not change the human heart. You could make a law that outlaws racism. You could make a law that says ‘Don’t be racist’, but no law is going to turn a racist heart into a heart that loves all people. The only person who can do that is God. Only God can do that. God has got to change the human heart. In John 8:31-32 Jesus says ‘If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples then you will know the truth and truth will set you free’.”
I firmly believe that if churches are to become more liberty-minded and opposed to the violence of statism, the best thing that could happen would be for ministers to lead the way. As it becomes more apparent that the State is not the kingdom of God and is in fact among the greatest threats to the church worldwide, I hope we’ll begin to see more ministers and Bible class leaders being this bold.
Review of Daniel M. Bell Jr., The Economy of Desire: Christianity and Capitalism in a Postmodern World (Baker Academic, 2012), 224 pgs., paperback.
This is the sixth volume in the series The Church and Postmodern Culture, edited by James K. A. Smith. The series “features high-profile theorists in continental philosophy and contemporary theology writing for a broad, nonspecialist audience interested in the impact of postmodern theory on the faith and practice of the church.”
Although I am not the least bit interested in postmodern theory, I am very interested in the intersection of Christianity and economics or politics. Thus, the phrase “Christianity and Capitalism” in this book’s subtitle caught my eye. Nevertheless, I have never been more disappointed, or bored.
The author describes his work as “a contribution to the conversation about the relationship of Christianity to capitalism with a postmodern twist.” That twist is nothing short of pure Christian anti-capitalism, although of a very unique kind. You see, Daniel Bell, professor of theological ethics at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and the author of several books, is not a socialist. He maintains that his book “changes the focus from capitalism versus socialism to capitalism versus the divine economy made present by Christ and witnessed to by the church.”
Fortunately, I didn’t have to read through the whole book to discover what the author meant by capitalism. He equates capitalism with the “free-market economy” because the name “highlights the centrality of the market.” This is well and good, and certainly makes it easier to understand where the author is coming from. Unfortunately, this is not the case for understanding Bell’s concept of the divine economy. Read More→
I have a confession to make. I have been accused of writing with an agenda. I hereby plead guilty. For those who are new to LewRockwell.com or to my writings and suspected that I had an agenda, your suspicions are confirmed.
Although I write about a lot of different things—abortion, libertarianism, the military, conservatism, the Republican Party, foreign aid, the minimum wage, discrimination, the war on drugs, vouchers, Social Security, Medicare, taxation, federalism, foreign policy, free trade, the Constitution, the free society, food stamps, government regulation, the U.S. empire, the state, gambling, theology, the U.S. government, English Bible history, the federal budget, war, economics, education, gun control, the welfare state, the warfare state, health care—I must confess that I do write with an agenda—an iconoclastic agenda.
My mission in life is to destroy anti-biblical Christian traditions about economics, politics, government, war, the military, and the state that are near and dear to the heart of many Christians, too many Christians. It doesn’t matter what their theological persuasion—Catholic, Baptist, Reformed, Anglican, Orthodox, Lutheran, Charismatic, Fundamentalist, Evangelical—there are enough of these anti-biblical traditions circulating for members of every group to have a handful.
The Catholic Patriarch of Syria has recently stated that a United States attack on Syria would be a “criminal act,” highlighting how U.S. government interventionism not only affects millions of innocents negatively but also has a drastic effect upon the church in those countries.
Quoting Patriarch Gregory (from CNSNews.com):
“We must listen to the Pope’s appeal for peace in Syria,” said Patriarch Gregory III. “If Western countries want to create true democracy then they must build it on reconciliation, through dialogue between Christians and Muslims, not with weapons. This attack being planned by the United States is a criminal act, which will only reap more victims, in addition to the tens of thousands of these two years of war. This will destroy the Arab world’s trust in the West.”
I am not a pastor. I am not a minister. I am not a preacher. I am not a priest. I am not an evangelist. I am not an elder. I am not a deacon. I am not a reverend. I am not in the ministry. I am not ordained.
I am not complaining, and am honored to be addressed as such.
I only bring this up because, since I often write about Christian themes, I sometimes get e-mails in which I am addressed as Pastor Vance, Father Vance, Rev. Vance, or Preacher Vance. I also occasionally get e-mails in which reference is made to my church or my congregation or my ministry.
I am a conservative, Bible-believing Christian, and am no stranger to preaching, teaching, and church work, and have written a number of Christian books, but I don’t want to give people the impression that I am something I am not.
So, I am not a pastor; however, if I were a pastor, and if I did have a congregation to lead, there are some things that I would never allow to take place in the church on my watch. Here are seven of them.
First of all, if I were a pastor, there would be no flags of any kind on the platform, on the walls of the church, on a flagpole, stuck in the ground, or anywhere on the property. Not even on the Sunday before Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, or Veterans Day. And not even at a funeral for a veteran if held in the church. And not only would there be no American flag, there would also be no Israeli flag or “Christian” flag. But even if the church had an American flag on the platform because of years of following mindless tradition, I would not lead the congregation in the Pledge of Allegiance. I would, of course, point out that the Pledge was written by a socialist Baptist minister.
Second, if I were a pastor, there would be no hymns sung to or about the state. No “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” no “America the Beautiful,” no “We Salute You, Land of Liberty,” no “This Is My Country,” no “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” no “Star-Spangled Banner,” no “God Bless America,” no “God Bless the U.S.A.” And certainly not the blasphemous “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Not even on the Sunday before Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, and Veterans Day.
Third, if I were a pastor, there would be no invoking the Jewish wars of the Old Testament against the heathen as a justification for the actions of the U.S. government and its military. Just because God sponsored these wars, and used the Jewish nation to conduct them, does not mean that God sponsors American wars or that America is God’s chosen nation. The U.S. president is not God, America is not the nation of Israel, the U.S. military is not the Lord’s army, and the Lord God never sanctioned any Christian to go on a crusade, commanded him to war on his behalf, or encouraged him to kill, make apologies for the killing of, or excuse the killing of any adherent to a false religion.
Fourth, if I were a pastor, there would be no American statolatry. Romans 13 would never be invoked to justify support for the U.S. government and its wars. There would be no special September 11th commemoration service. The sins of America would not be downplayed because of blind nationalism or American exceptionalism.
Fifth, if I were a pastor, there would be no political activity. This means no Christian Coalition or Focus on the Family voting guides on the back table, no introducing local candidates who claim to be Christians, no promoting candidates, no promoting the Republican Party, no appeals to fax members of Congress about impending legislation, no running for office or encouraging others to do so, no voter registration drives, no reminding the congregation to vote, and certainly no letting the county use the church buildings as a polling place.
Sixth, if I were a pastor, there would be no special law enforcement appreciation days. State and local law enforcement personnel are just as aggressive, militarized, and on the lookout for victimless crimes as their federal counterparts. (See here for the latest outrages.) I would no sooner have an appreciation day for them than I would for FBI, TSA, and DEA agents. Law enforcement personnel would, of course, be welcome to attend services, they would just be encouraged to fight real crime instead of victimless crime, to not set up speed traps and sting operations, and to lay off the doughnuts.
And last, but not least, if I were a pastor, there would be no special recognition given to current or former members of the military. All veterans and active duty military personnel would, of course, be welcome to attend services, just as all pimps, prostitutes, pushers, and politicians would be welcomed. There would be no special military appreciation services. No veterans would be encouraged to wear their uniforms to church on the Sunday before Veterans Day. No veterans would be recognized on the Sunday before Veterans Day. I would instead briefly explain its origin as Armistice Day, and talk about the folly of World War I and how the United States was led into it by a sorry excuse for a Christian named Woodrow Wilson. Not only would I not introduce to the church any young person in the congregation who joined the military, I would actively persuade them from joining. As a pastor, I would be disappointed and ashamed if any young person in my congregation joined the military. There would be no prayers for the troops to be kept out of harm’s way while they defend our freedoms. There would instead be prayers that the troops didn’t harm anyone in an unjust war and that they would come home from foreign military interventions and overseas bases.
I don’t get very many invitations to speak in churches. Now you know seven reasons why.