Apologeet.nl

The World Can Use Some Apologists

Posts Tagged / Church

Debating Atheists?

Why I don’t Debate Atheists

Why I don’t debate atheists? Well, that statement is not entirely true because, so now and then, I do respond on their remarks. However, I try to avoid these endless debates on forums, YouTube and other online platforms. You see, it is often a quite different situation if you meet someone in person, and it turns out that this person identifies himself as an atheist. For some reason, the conversations are much more respectful if you can look each other in the eyes. Or that might be because I look impressive…

Angry People on Both Sides

Christians

I guess my stance is mostly about online debates. I used to be an un-believer. I wouldn’t classify myself as an atheist back then. I think the term agnostic is more suitable. I remember how fiery I was when I finally became a Christian. One day I went along with an evangelist. He used to go to the pubs on Friday night. He was the real deal, and I wanted to see how he did.

One evening we came across a group of young men who used to be my friends. As my friend the evangelist started his plea, they started to mock him. They were very disrespectful, and he didn’t say anything about it. No worries! I was there to save the day. I looked my old mates in the eyes, lifted my fist and told them to listen or else…

It worked! They listened to the whole story. Later I told my friend that I thought that the whole episode was a success. He laughed and said that I might consider changing my tactic. Back then I thought that there was no need to change. If people don’t want to listen, you just make them to.

Making people listen can quickly become a goal in itself. The sincere Christian might have a hard time not trying to force the Gospel up someone’s throat. I mean, we really want that guy or lady to be saved right? Maybe you can spook them into Christianity. Tell them about hell, that worked for me! But than it might come as a surprise that Jesus’ warnings about hell were mostly discussed among His own followers. Jesus didn’t seem to preach fire and brimstone all the time.

Okay, how about trying to outwit the other with smart arguments. With the Christian world-view we have logic on our side, so debunking all the arguments launched by atheists seems to be the way. Only, now we seem to forget that most unbelievers are just not easily convinced by arguments that seem to take the supernatural in account. Even if the supernatural isn’t even part of the argument, many just know that in the end you try to convince them about God anyway.

Yes, I know! It can be very frustrating to know you have logic on your side, but the other just doesn’t want to grab it. Oh, those dumb atheists! Are they purposely dumb? Or are they just born that way? Oops, you see what happens? You became angry, and maybe even confused.

Atheists

But how about people who call themselves atheist? Are the any better? Well, honestly? I think many atheists, especially the typical YouTube atheist, are much more nasty and angry in online debates than most Christians. They yell, they make up all sorts of names for us, they blaspheme the name of Jesus, and they treat others like rubbish. Not all of them! I have been blessed with some very nice and respectful discussions in the past.

But, just recently one person commented on one of my videos. I’ll pick some of the words from that comment: brainwashing, trojan horse of irrelevance, gobblygook, spiritual enslavement, maniacal control freak-ridden pseudoreligions.

You have to hand it to him or her, it is very creative. But, really? How much effort will it cost me to respond on all these accusations? And I don’t think it will result in anything else than an even angrier person. The writer will probably shout, with Caps-Lock on, that he is not angry! Okay, if this is the way you normally respond, I do not want to see you angry… Better not discussing these topics with you than.

Emotional

Actually, I believe that apologetics is in the first place a great tool to help Christians grow in their faith. I’ll come back to that later.

Angry Christians

First, I think I need to address the emotional side of this issue. I do understand why Christian get angry. Many of us just don’t understand why others are willingly ignorant while showing them all the signs and arguments for a creating God.

2 Peter 3:3-5

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.

That’s right, the Bible says that many unbelievers are willingly ignorant, purposely dumb. Oh boy, I can see all the angry comments already, that is going to be fun to read!

Angry Atheists

But, why this emotional responds. Why would they scoff the way they do? I know, the topic of God vs. atheism can be very emotional, but you will not find comparable insults on the Christian side. Why then are so many atheists so angry?

Atheists often like to say that they just don’t believe in God. However, if they really were unbelievers they should live their lives as if God did not exist, right? You see, I don’t believe in the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Many children have heard this story, and they loved it. They fantasised about it, and re-enacted the story in the garden. But I know it is a fairytale, it is not real. But I am not going to write books called The end of Jack and the giant, Jack’s giant is Not Great, or The Beanstalk Delusion.

The urge to fight this hard against Christianity seems to reveal a certain anger towards God; they behave like they are at war with God. Bitterness sounds through the titles of their book, the titles of their videos, their discussion and what not. Yes,you can hear their bitterness through their nasty insults in the comment section under Christian videos.

But I also think they become so angry because they are not used to having their sophisticated reasons revealed as they are, not as sophisticated as they think they are. Just look at the responses when the famous spokesmen of atheism lose in debates against people like William Lane Craig, John Lennox, Norm Geisler, Frank Turek etc.

As soon as the atheist community feels that their fighter lost, they are quick to say that they weren’t in shape, he didn’t prepare well enough, he made a fool out of himself etc. No, they would have answered differently! Like they, the all-knowing YouTube atheists, are more knowledgeable than those heavyweights on stage. Don’t get me wrong, there might be a few very intellectual atheists roaming the internet, but the fast majority haven’t studied the topics as deeply as these men. They are prepared big time when they step into that arena with a Christian apologist. So, don’t pretend you would have done much better.

Why I, Personally, do not Debate Atheists?

So why am I not going to use apologetics in debates with atheists? Well, the first reason is very simple. I just don’t have the knowledge to respond very quickly on all the questions they launch. I practice apologetics as a hobby. That means that I do not have the time to do the amounts of research needed to successfully debate. There are very good apologists out there who are privileged enough to spend many hours studying all the different topics. I rather leave it to them, who I consider to be much smarter on these topics than I am.

Why I use Apologetics

However, I do feel knowledgeable enough to make videos like these, and to preach, and educate. Why? Because preparing a video, sermon or a study can be done in parts. I do not have to have add-hoc answers, I can prepare myself over the course of days or even a week. I thus rather use my talents to help the Church of Christ grow.

I came across this explanation of apologetics:

Apologetics is the systematic and logical defence of Christianity against its detractors and unbelievers backed up by evidence showing its credibility.i

I know the invitations in the Bible that say you need to try to convince people. But there are even more texts that say that we need to help each others to grow in the faith. Our young people need to see why we believe what we believe. They need to be able to relate it to the surrounding things. That way they can adopt the Christian faith with intellectual and rational honesty, rigor, and certainty.

GobblyGook

Did I just say ‘young people’? Yes, that is because the older Christians don’t have much trouble right? Well, wrong! I actually found that many older Christians aren’t that stable in their faith as the like you to believe. What they do master though, is appearance. Many older Christians are just not willing to change much about their lifestyles. Becoming an atheist isn’t relevant for them because that would mean they lose their social activities. Then, a teenager or someone in his twenties comes by with questions, and they just tell them that faith is a mystery, they shouldn’t try to rationalise faith etc. And that is just what my atheist friend would call gobblygook.

Throughout the centuries we have seen many attacks towards Christianity. We even see many within Church who proclaim a different Gospel than that of the first apostles. I get to see first hand what happens when Churches are undereducated. In the South-West of Madagascar there are many small churches. Many believers there can’t read and write. They have little knowledge of the Bible. Now, they get a visit from a well-trained Muslim, and he tells them that his prophet is the promised comforter as mentioned by Jesus.

John 14:16

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.

I hope you know how to answer this. Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, who came 40 days after His ascension. But these poor Christians have no answer and are quickly lured into Islam. Where are the apologists in those regions?

Young Christians

And now I look at you! Who me? You might wonder. Yes, what is your position? Are you going to spend all your time debating angry unwilling people, because you hope that they tell you the truth when they say they try to gain more knowledge and information about your faith. I forgot were I read this. The question was why atheists always want to debate. And answer that received most likes was because they love to learn.

But you are not called to satisfy their needs. If they want to learn, they can go to the library. You are called to be the light and salt in this world. You might know this text in Matthew 5:13-16

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

To be a Christian is not a synonym of being a wimpy guy or girl. We have enough cry-babies already, Christians who hold to a wishy-washy Gospel and have no idea how to live accordingly let alone how to defend it. In the West most Christians should be able to familiarise themselves with their doctrines. So, why is this not happening? Laziness? Not pressed enough? Not shocked enough when more than half of the youth in church actually leaves the faith of their parents behind them? I have no idea. And that bothers me big time.

But what I do know is that your position doesn’t need to be like that. The Church is in need of strong men and women who can lead and train others. We still need many, well-trained, missionaries or evangelists here on Madagascar. Christians who are not afraid of confronting false teachers, who are not afraid of correcting those Muslim preachers. Christians who like to come with me to visit the biggest witchdoctor of our area… Fun guaranteed!

Anyway, I would like to challenge you to really become the salt and light Jesus was talking about. Try and see whether you can find a good Bible-school in your area. Maybe an evening school, I’ve done that for five years and I loved it.

Outro

Okay, I’ll leave it at this. I think I will do the next video on the importance of apologetics. I already touched a little on that topic in this one, but there are many more good reasons to train yourself as being an apologists. But that has to wait for the next one. For now, just let me know your thoughts in the comment section of this video. I love to hear from you.

I also want to thank all of you who subscribed to my channel. On YouTube I’ve got something like 1800 subscribers, and on Odysee I already have around 5000. Which is amazing! Let’s see whether we can reach more people with the Good News of Jesus Christ by growing even bigger.

Maybe, you can add some more Christian flavour to the Odysee sauce by starting your won Christian channel. You can use my invitation in the description to get started, and we will both receive some free LBC!

In the description of this video you’ll find ways to support me, and I’ll place a link to the Dutch and English transcript of this video.



As always, thank you for watching,

God bless you and we see each other in the next video!


i Livermore, D. J., School of Jewish & Biblical Studies, Introduction to Apologetics, [internet] http://www.hadavar.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Apologetics-1-Introduction.pdf, (accessed 21-05-2022), p.6.

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A Biblical Case for the Church’s Duty to Remain Open

Does the government has anything to say over the Church?Christ is Lord of all. He is the one true head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). He is also King of kings—sovereign over every earthly authority (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16). The Church should stand immovably on those biblical principles. As God’s people, we are subject to His will and commands as revealed in Scripture. Therefore we cannot acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.

Some will think such a firm statement is inexorably in conflict with the command to be subject to governing authorities laid out in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2. Scripture does mandate careful, conscientious obedience to all governing authority, including kings, governors, employers, and their agents (in Peter’s words, “not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable” [1 Peter 2:18]). Insofar as government authorities do not attempt to assert ecclesiastical authority or issue orders that forbid our obedience to God’s law, their authority is to be obeyed whether we agree with their rulings or not. In other words, Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 still bind the consciences of individual Christians. We are to obey our civil authorities as powers that God Himself has ordained. See also the series on Romans 13 (linked below this article).

However, while civil government is invested with divine authority to rule the state, neither of those texts (nor any other) grants civic rulers jurisdiction over the church. God has established three institutions within human society: the family, the state, and the church. Each institution has a sphere of authority with jurisdictional limits that must be respected. A father’s authority is limited to his own family. Church leaders’ authority (which is delegated to them by Christ) is limited to church matters. And government is specifically tasked with the oversight and protection of civic peace and well-being within the boundaries of a nation or community. God has not granted civic rulers authority over the doctrine, practice, or polity of the church. The biblical framework limits the authority of each institution to its specific jurisdiction. The church does not have the right to meddle in the affairs of individual families and ignore parental authority. Parents do not have authority to manage civil matters while circumventing government officials. And similarly, government officials have no right to interfere in ecclesiastical matters in a way that undermines or disregards the God-given authority of pastors and elders.

When any one of the three institutions exceeds the bounds of its jurisdiction it is the duty of the other institutions to curtail that overreach. Therefore, when any government official issues orders regulating worship (such as bans on singing, caps on attendance, or prohibitions against gatherings and services), he steps outside the legitimate bounds of his God-ordained authority as a civic official and arrogates to himself authority that God expressly grants only to the Lord Jesus Christ as sovereign over His Kingdom, which is the church. His rule is mediated to local churches through those pastors and elders who teach His Word (Matthew 16:18–19; 2 Timothy 3:16–4:2).

Therefore, when a government orders churches to close their doors (or when they strongly advise it), the pastors and elders of these churches should respectfully inform their civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction. Faithfulness to Christ prohibits the Christian from observing the restrictions they want to impose on their corporate worship services.

Said another way, it has never been the prerogative of civil government to order, modify, forbid, or mandate worship. When, how, and how often the church worships is not subject to Caesar. Caesar himself is subject to God. Jesus affirmed that principle when He told Pilate, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). And because Christ is head of the church, ecclesiastical matters pertain to His Kingdom, not Caesar’s. Jesus drew a stark distinction between those two kingdoms when He said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). Our Lord Himself always rendered to Caesar what was Caesar’s, but He never offered to Caesar what belongs solely to God.

Pastors and elders, cannot hand over to earthly authorities any privilege or power that belongs solely to Christ as head of His church. Pastors and elders are the ones to whom Christ has given the duty and the right to exercise His spiritual authority in the church (1 Peter 5:1–4; Hebrews 13:7, 17)—and Scripture alone defines how and whom they are to serve (1 Corinthians 4:1–4). They have no duty to follow orders from a civil government attempting to regulate the worship or governance of the church. In fact, pastors who cede their Christ-delegated authority in the church to a civil ruler have abdicated their responsibility before their Lord and violated the God-ordained spheres of authority as much as the secular official who illegitimately imposes his authority upon the church. To make matters a little more clear we include a paragraph of Grace Community Church’s (California, US) doctrinal statement:

We teach the autonomy of the local church, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations (Titus 1:5). We teach that it is scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith. Each local church, however, through its elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation. The elders should determine all other matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government as well (Acts 15:19–31; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 5:4–7, 13; 1 Peter 5:1–4).

In short, the church, does not need the state’s permission to serve and worship the Lord as He has commanded. The church is Christ’s precious bride (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23–27). She belongs to Him alone. She exists by His will and serves under His authority. He will tolerate no assault on her purity and no infringement of His headship over her. All of that was established when Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18).

Christ’s own authority is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And [God the Father has] put all things in subjection under [Christ’s] feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:21–23).

Accordingly, the honour that we rightly owe our earthly governors and magistrates (Romans 13:7) does not include compliance when such officials attempt to subvert sound doctrine, corrupt biblical morality, exercise ecclesiastical authority, or supplant Christ as head of the church in any other way.

The biblical order is clear: Christ is Lord over Caesar, not vice versa. Christ, not Caesar, is head of the church. Conversely, the church does not in any sense rule the state. Again, these are distinct kingdoms, and Christ is sovereign over both. Neither church nor state has any higher authority than that of Christ Himself, who declared, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Notice that this article is not making a constitutional argument, even though the First Amendment of the United States Constitution expressly affirms this principle in its opening words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” A similar statement can be found in the constitutions of many other countries. The right this article is appealing to was not created by these Constitutions. It is one of those unalienable rights granted solely by God, who ordained human government and establishes both the extent and the limitations of the state’s authority (Romans 13:1–7). The argument therefore is purposely not grounded in the First Amendment or any other constitution around the world; it is based on the same biblical principles that many of these constitutions are founded upon. The exercise of true religion is a divine duty given to men and women created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27; Acts 4:18–20; 5:29; cf. Matthew 22:16–22). In other words, freedom of worship is a command of God, not a privilege granted by the state.

An additional point needs to be made in this context. Christ is always faithful and true (Revelation 19:11). Human governments are not so trustworthy. Scripture says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). That refers, of course, to Satan. John 12:31 and 16:11 call him “the ruler of this world,” meaning he wields power and influence through this world’s political systems (cf. Luke 4:6; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12). Jesus said of him, “he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). History is full of painful reminders that government power is easily and frequently abused for evil purposes. Politicians may manipulate statistics and the media can cover up or camouflage inconvenient truths. So a discerning church cannot passively or automatically comply if the government orders a shutdown of congregational meetings—even if the reason given is a concern for public health and safety.

The church by definition is an assembly. That is the literal meaning of the Greek word for “church”—ekklesia—the assembly of the called-out ones. A non-assembling assembly is a contradiction in terms. Christians are therefore commanded not to forsake the practice of meeting together (Hebrews 10:25)—and no earthly state has a right to restrict, delimit, or forbid the assembling of believers. Many Christians have always supported the underground church in nations where Christian congregational worship is deemed illegal by the state.

When officials restrict church attendance to a certain number, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the saints to gather as the church. When officials prohibit singing in worship services, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the people of God to obey the commands of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. When officials mandate distancing, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible to experience the close communion between believers that is commanded in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. In all those spheres, we must submit to our Lord.

Although Christians in America and Europe may be unaccustomed to government intrusion into the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is by no means the first time in church history that Christians have had to deal with government overreach or hostile rulers. As a matter of fact, persecution of the church by government authorities has been the norm, not the exception, throughout church history. “Indeed,” Scripture says, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Historically, the two main persecutors have always been secular government and false religion. Most of Christianity’s martyrs have died because they refused to obey such authorities. This is, after all, what Christ promised: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). In the last of the beatitudes, He said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11–12).

As government policy moves further away from biblical principles, and as legal and political pressures against the church intensify, Christians must recognise that the Lord may be using these pressures as means of purging to reveal the true church. Succumbing to governmental overreach may cause churches to remain closed indefinitely. How can the true church of Jesus Christ distinguish herself in such a hostile climate? There is only one way: bold allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even where governments seem sympathetic to the church, Christian leaders have often needed to push back against aggressive state officials. In Calvin’s Geneva, for example, church officials at times needed to fend off attempts by the city council to govern aspects of worship, church polity, and church discipline. The Church of England has never fully reformed, precisely because the British Crown and Parliament have always meddled in church affairs. In 1662, the Puritans were ejected from their pulpits because they refused to bow to government mandates regarding use of the Book of Common Prayer, the wearing of vestments, and other ceremonial aspects of state-regulated worship. The British Monarch still claims to be the supreme governor and titular head of the Anglican Church.

But again: Christ is the one true head of His church, and we should honour that vital truth in all our gatherings. For that pre-eminent reason, Christians cannot accept and must not bow to the intrusive restrictions government officials want to impose on our congregation. The writers of this article offer this response without rancour, and not out of hearts that are combative or rebellious (1 Timothy 2:1–8; 1 Peter 2:13–17), but with a sobering awareness that they must answer to the Lord Jesus for the stewardship He has given to the shepherds of His precious flock.

To government officials, the writers respectfully say with the apostles, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge” (Acts 4:19). And their unhesitating reply to that question is the same as the apostles’: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Let us pray that every faithful congregation will stand united in obedience to our Lord as Christians have done through the centuries.


Addendum

Many elders and pastors considered and independently consented to the original government order, not because they believed the state has a right to tell churches when, whether, or how to worship. To be clear, they believe that the original orders were just as much an illegitimate intrusion of state authority into ecclesiastical matters as they believe it is now. However, because they could not possibly have known the true severity of the virus, and because they care about people as our Lord did, they believe guarding public health against serious contagions is a rightful function of Christians as well as civil government. Therefore, they voluntarily followed the initial recommendations of their government. It is, of course, legitimate for Christians to abstain from the assembly of saints temporarily in the face of illness or an imminent threat to public health.

When the devastating lockdowns began, it was supposed to be a short-term stopgap measure, with the goal to “flatten the curve”—meaning they wanted to slow the rate of infection to ensure that hospitals weren’t overwhelmed. And there were horrific projections of death. In light of those factors, many pastors supported the measures by observing the guidelines that were issued for churches.

But they did not yield their spiritual authority to the secular government. Many said from the very start that their voluntary compliance was subject to change if the restrictions dragged on beyond the stated goal, or politicians unduly intruded into church affairs, or if health officials added restrictions that would attempt to undermine the Church’s mission. Pastors and elders made every decision with their own burden of responsibility in mind. they simply took the early opportunity to support the concerns of health officials and accommodate the same concerns among the church members, out of a desire to act in an abundance of care and reasonableness (Philippians 4:5).

But we are now more than twenty weeks into the unrelieved restrictions. It is apparent that those original projections of death were wrong and the virus is nowhere near as dangerous as originally feared. Still, roughly forty percent of the year has passed with chruches essentially unable to gather in a normal way. Pastors’ ability to shepherd their flocks has been severely curtailed. The unity and influence of the church has been threatened. Opportunities for believers to serve and minister to one another have been missed. And the suffering of Christians who are troubled, fearful, distressed, infirm, or otherwise in urgent need of fellowship and encouragement has been magnified beyond anything that could reasonably be considered just or necessary. Major public events that were planned for 2021 and 2022 are already being cancelled, signalling that officials are preparing to keep restrictions in place into next year and beyond. That forces churches to choose between the clear command of our Lord and the government officials. Therefore, following the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christian, pastors and elders should gladly choose to obey Him.

Stand united in support of the biblical mandate to gather for corporate worship.


Acknowledgements

The original article was written by Grace Community Church, California, United States of America. Apologeet does not have a formal permission to use this article. Apologeet tried to get into contact with the pastors and elders but did not succeed. However, the article is such a well written piece of work that we decided to publish it anyway (with the risk of having to take it down). Apologeet adjusted the article in such a way that it is applicable to all Christians, pastors and elders (basically changing words like ‘we’ into ‘us’ or ‘Christians’). The original article can be found here:

Grace Community Church (2020) Christ, not Caesar, Is Head of the Church (A Biblical Case for the Church’s Duty to Remain Open [Internet] Available from: < https://www.gracechurch.org/news/posts/1988> [Accessed Dec 28 2021].

Series on Romans 13

Romans 13 — Thou Shalt Obey…

What to do with Romans 13:1-7 Introduction And here we are! The last episode of this series. I knew this one would come, and I have been thinking a lot about the applications of Roman 13. I am slightly nervous about making this video (only slightly). Most of what we have discussed until now was […]

Romans 13 — Thou Shalt Obey…

What I Believe Romans 13:1-7 Means Introduction I am a bit doubtful whether I should name this episode ‘What I believe Romans means’ or ‘What it definitely means’. Let’s just begin, and we’ll find out the most appropriate title along the way, okay? There is no Authority Outside God We have discovered in the fourth […]

Romans 13 — Thou Shalt Obey…

What Romans 13:1-7 Might Mean Introduction Sometimes you just want to see whether there are more possibilities than one. Welcome to episode 4 about Romans 13:1-7, in which we are going to do just that! Examining the text to see what else it might mean. We have looked at history and how our predecessors made […]

Romans 13 — Thou Shalt Obey…

What Romans 13:1-7 isn’t saying Introduction This is part three of this series about Romans 13:1-7. In part two we’ve looked at the history around this passage. We’ve seen that it strongly depends on who is in charge how we interpret this text. It is also interesting to see that, as soon as the church […]

Romans 13 — Thou Shalt Obey…

Throughout History of Romans 13:1-7 Let’s dive into the history and see what Christians throughout the ages made of this text. As I said in the introduction Romans 13 seems almost always be invoked by oppressing groups or governments. It is not often that you hear the ‘normal’ people say that we need to obey […]

Romans 13 — Thou Shalt Obey…

Introduction to Romans 13:1-7 In my last video, I asked you what I should do next. I was thinking about explaining some fine but sometimes hard to understand apologetic arguments or some videos about Romans 13. One of you actually posted this comment: @anonimous What should we do if the government is oppressing people? Should […]

And the Church Said Nothing…

Not a topic about apologetics this week. Something else got my attention.

Last week I was reading the news items concerning my home country, the Netherlands. One article triggered my attention. It was an interview with a doctor about all the measures the government took and is still taking to prevent people from getting Corona. This doctor is as far as I know not a Christian, but I might be wrong. She was pretty clear in her opinion. The measures take a bigger toll on people’s health and society in general than Corona does.

Many rights are taken away. People need to show a OR code to be able to go to restaurants and what not. The minister of health actually started to repeat the words uttered by other leaders by saying that this is now the pandemic of the un-vaccinated.

I wish I could recall where I read the article, but I can’t. Anyway, the doctor said that she was astonished with the fact that hardly any doctor spoke out against this policy. No doctors, no psychiatrists, no mainstream news outlet. And then she said it! “Even the church is quiet!” That last statement really hit hard.

Why would a secular doctor say something like that? Why didn’t she just stop at the normal secular authorities? I think I know why! It is because this doctor knows a thing or two about history. In the past—and I am not talking about the last 70 years, but rather hundreds of years—the church was always there when things got out of hand.

Last year, I already discussed the whole issue around the corona measures. In my first message I argued that the Church can’t permit being scared. Let me quote myself:i

… since when do we consider it normal to deny people social contact in the last phase of their lives? And when they die we still think it is normal denying visitors to come? Where, then, are the Christians who oppose this? Was it not the Lord Jesus Himself who touched the lepers, He who was called friend of sinners.

Later, I’ve made another video in which I openly discuss the credibility of the church and with that the message the churches ought to preach. Again, I will quote a little:ii

I believe we will do the same in ten years from now. Not much sooner, because next year the feelings and emotions about this epidemic are still too fresh. No, after about ten years we probably wonder what happened. Our answer might be one of surprise and bewilderedness. “But we’ve had lovely and professional live streams, and we encouraged each other with Zoom meetings. Yes, we actually drank tea and coffee with each other during these great Zoom meetings!”

Yes, but despite all this, the message is clear. We do not believe our own words when we preach that, in Christ there is no fear. In Christ, we stand tall. ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.’ (2 Timothy 1:7).

I’ll put the link to these videos in the description below.

So, now we have arrived at that point in which people actually start to wonder why the Church is silent about all the developments around the discriminatory QR code. Last week we as a family, listened to a sermon given by David Pawson. Brother Pawson has already gone to heaven, but his message is still downloadable. He talked about the role of the Church in the second world-war. At one moment he said, and I will paraphrase him:

In the past century the Church spoke out when shouldn’t have, and we have seen the Church being silent when it had to speak.

Is this what’s happening right now? Is the Church silent while it should speak out against discrimination? Is that really the inheritance we want to leave for our children? A weak Gospel which is afraid of going against the ruling parties?

I remember when we still lived in Holland. This is years ago already. Sometimes I preached as well. A few things could not be discussed from the pulpit: Israel; Evolution/Creation; Abortion; the Occult and the Biblical view on raising children. It made the people in church feel uncomfortable. It caused to many discussions. No, rather not talk about these issues. These were things that we might discuss on the Monday evening during the Bible study. Except, we never discussed it there either. I have been in trouble several times for choosing these subjects. Well, maybe also because I wasn’t mild as well. I admit, I wasn’t paying much attention to feelings. But still, nobody else preached on these subjects. Can we now also add Corona and the QR society to the list?

And I know that there are churches who do speak out! They do no allow others to silence them. That’s wonderful! That’s what we read in the Bible. Jesus wasn’t silenced. But these churches are few, and they are frowned upon but other churches and individuals.

This is what Marcus Pittmaniii, the CEO of LOOR.tv said:

For the past 200 years, Christians have believed that things are going to get worse and worse. This faithlessness stunted the entrepreneurial spirit of American Christians. For centuries it was the faith of Christians that expected the world to last, and expected God’s blessings to be generational, that made this nation, and western civilization into the kind of place that would be able to afford to send missionaries to the rest of the world.

Christians no longer build hospitals, we don’t pioneer technological innovations, we don’t build businesses that can be used to bless our great, great, great grandchildren. We look askance when Kanye West said, “This for my kid, kid, kid, for when my kid, kid, kids have kids.”

[…]

Christians built the printing press, but instead of furthering that technology, we used the internet to build online book stores for small Christian audiences while we allowed Bezos to build Amazon. Instead of trying to take over Hollywood and use its resources to serve our neighbors and propagate the Christian worldview, we made cheesy movies that warned people to keep their eyes on the skies because the end of the world will be happening at any moment. Instead of using capital to invest in business and industry, we buried our capital in the back yard and called it stewardship.

Don’t get me wrong; I believe that Jesus will return one day. All Christians do. But I do not believe He will return to a powerless church, hiding like Gideon in the winepresses. I believe He will return victorious, having defeated every enemy (Marxists included) from the right hand of God by the power of the gospel going forth in the power of the Spirit. I believe that when Christ returns, the gospel will have reached every corner of the earth, and so with it the blessings of the gospel that always follow on its train.

Pittman wondered why we invest millions of dollars into nations that are considered to be the poorest in the world. Why we spend so much money on mission somewhere else, but at the same time very few Christians actually decide to spend their money and time in building big companies. Most all monstrous companies are in the hands of secular power hungry people. The kind of people who give donations to poor black people who are starving and then use this to propagate their own agenda.

Don’t get me wrong! I work as missionary, and I depend on gifts for my whole income. So, keep on giving. But! There is nothing wrong with being influential. Nothing wrong with having a position in which you can actually push your ideals. The secular world is doing it and the Church is just quietly doing her thing! Not to loud because we might disturb our secular neighbour in his sleep. Not to loud because our church members might start to feel anxious.

I am making this video in both the English and Dutch language. I am not going to make it into a Bible study. No, I am not going to explain God’s word to you and how this fits in with a pro-active church. You do your homework! Question the pastor and elders in your church. Where are you standing in history? What is your church going to communicate to the world? Are the words of the doctor I started with applicable to you? Or are you speaking out against unjust, discriminatory rules. Are you and your church still credible and relevant to the world around you?

What I have seen in the last year isn’t very ensuring. But as I said! I have also seen some remarkable courage among Christians and churches. I am looking forward to Jesus’ return. Until then, I hope we can work together and really build His kingdom in a world that is rapidly running away from it. It’s time to remember we are not called to put our trust in governments and big industries. Governments and industries that all ran away from Christ and mostly serve themselves, and in doing so, creating a life-destroying world. No we need to remember that we serve a victorious King. A king who called us to be the light of the world.

We need a faith that believes that Christ saves you from sin and hell, but also believes that salvation inspires you to transform the world now.”iv


Footnotes:

i J. Hofmann, (30-07-2020), Christians Dealing with the Corona Crisis, [Online video] https://odysee.com/@apologeet:3/christians-dealing-with-the-corona:5 [accessed 02-11-2021].

ii J. Hofmann, (27-09-2020), Is the Church Losing Her Credibility? [Online video] https://odysee.com/@apologeet:3/christians-dealing-with-the-corona:5 [accessed 02-11-2021].

iii M. Pittman, (28-10-2021), An Eschatology of Victory, [internet] https://news.gab.com/2021/10/28/an-eschatology-of-victory/ [accessed 02-11-2021].

iv Ibid.

The two previous videos I’ve made about this topic:

Christians dealing with Corona (Video)

Christians dealing with Corona (Page)

Is the Church Losing Her credibility? (Video)

Is the Church Losing Her credibility? (Page)

Recommende playlist

https://odysee.com/@apologeet:3/About-Corona-%28includes-Dutch-content%29:c

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-RuM28NuH2EWmufrn4wgKw2sjyqu5Pyn

The Church of Surinam

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsjn109vK2A

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