Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Quote of the Day

From a sermon preached by Stephen Davey at a 2006 event highlighing Capitol Ministries in Raleigh, North Carolina:
What if homosexuality was made illegal? What if abortion was outlawed? What if sexual relations outside of marriage were unacceptable? What if prayer was back in the classroom and the Ten Commandments back in the courtroom? What then? Are people going to heaven? Has the mission of the church advanced one inch? Suppose we could turn the clock back to the good old days, wherever they were, with shared boundaries of morality, a basic respect for God, a basic underpinning of absolute truth. . . . Would we breathe a sigh of relief then? Would we think that we have somehow completed our job?

What if we had our way in Washington or here in Raleigh? What if every evangelical viewpoint was respected and every piece of legislation that we wanted presented [was] supported and applauded? Would we wipe the sweat off our brow? I fear the church at large in America would, because the church at large has forgotten the nature of the battle.

That doesn't mean we don't care about what society does. Given our current freedoms, we vote every opportunity we have. We rejoice when our culture respects moral purity. For those called into civil and political service, we rejoice when they shine as lights in the arena God has called them to for the glory of God.

But true victory, true reformation, however, is not changing the behavior of our culture unless we first change their belief in who Jesus Christ is. And when their belief in who Jesus Christ is changes by virture of spiritual life, then reformation truly occurs.
Unfortunately, no link is currently available. If this changes, I'll post an update. Here's the real kicker though:
I had a leader engage in conversation with me some time ago, and he said, "You know, what we're trying to do is keep for you your freedom so you can preach." And I asked him how he knew that I should have my freedom. Maybe the best thing for the church in America is for men like me to go to prison for what we preach and what we believe. It does not take a strong and free culture to have a thriving church. Go to China. I fear that our mission as a church has become one of distraction rather than of disciple-making.


Matthew LaPine said...

Couldn't agree more. Great post.

Nathan said...

"Maybe the best thing for the church in America is for men like me to go to prison for what we preach and what we believe."

Ergh. I cringe at every ill-conceived comment about the church in America needing a little persecution to stiffen its backbone. That kind of implicit martyr's complex has no idea of how horrifying persecution can be, and how grateful to God we should be for its absence in this country.

Christ knows what his bride needs, and He's well capable of supplying it: "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials..." (1 Peter 1:16, emphasis added).

Look: if the American church needs persecution, God will send persecution. We don't have it now. Ergo, we don't need it. Ergo, pining for the glory days of Diocletian is a tacit assertion that God isn't doing enough to keep His bride pure and holy.

Tell you what: let's grab our sermon- and hymn-loaded iPods, our latest commentary acquisitions, a schedule of the next Bible conference we're attending, a transcript of our pastor's latest sermon, and a picture of our happy Christian families. Then let's jet over to China, visit a pastor who's facing seven-and-half years in prison, and tell him how we wish the American church could get itself some of that.

Or we could thank God He hasn't deemed it necessary to send persecution our way.


Ben said...


I think you might have missed Davey's point. He's certainly not saying the church in America needs persecution. If you read the context carefully, I think that becomes clear.

You wrote:
"If the American church needs persecution, God will send persecution. We don't have it now. Ergo, we don't need it."

I suspect Davey would agree with that. And for what it's worth, I have read interviews of pastors in countries that persecute the church in which they talk about how American churches might need a little of what they're getting.

Nathan said...

I get his main point. I just don't like offhand musing that persecution might be just what the doctor ordered. It's a reality God may send, but not something to mess around with.

IMHO. Take it FWIW.

Don said...

You know, the Lord could be withholding persecution as a matter of judgement -- storing up wrath, so to speak. The absence of persecution does not necessarily prove the lack of a need for it.

Although I'm hoping it does!!

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dean McConnell said...

I agree with nwC. Persecution is overrated. As Jesus said, it is inevitable that offenses will come, but woe unto him by whom they come. I do not want to wish for evil to grow so that we feel more spiritual. Besides, persecution does not always lead to a stronger church. Look at Japan, North Africa, and the Middle East.

The post is right we Christians often focus on individual short term issues or outrages and forget the bigger context. The gospel must remain primary, but disciple making, helping our neighbors, freeing the oppressed, and doing justice are not exclusive of the gospel. God has given us many commands. Preaching the gospel is just one.

The reason our society is so messed up is not that there are not enough Christians. It is that the professing Christians we have do not seem to know how to apply and live out their faith in personal life, family, business, education, law, government, or church. We often live like the world and take on the false beliefs of the world. We are a mile wide and an inch deep. Making disciples means teaching Christians the whole truth and how to put it in action in life, not just selling eternal fire insurance and internal personal piety.

As Jesus said about the pharisees and their tithing v. justice choices: " you ought to have done the one and not left the other undone." The gospel and being salt and light in society are "both and" rather than "either or." But the speaker is right that we tend to have a myopic view of these things.