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Question #1:

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the great response. Here is ____'s site if you're interested: http://standingthegap.org. He claims that those who are/were in military service are basically murderers, so he would see people like you and me as 'murderers.' He sees anyone who believes in original sin as a heretic and then says that those who believe in heresy will not inherit the Kingdom of God. He's such a negative person and he has spread his poison with a passion. All his pupils I've encountered are negative, critical and condemning, tend to be arrogant, act self-righteous, love to argue over nothing much at all etc. I especially did not get the area where he said that soldiers will be expected to unconditionally follow orders. If a soldier follows unlawful orders from his commanding officer, it is my understanding that the soldier commits a crime if he obeys those unlawful orders and will probably have to go to jail or some other form of punishment. Just thought I'd pass this on to you and have a good evening!

Response #1:

I agree with your homing in on the weak point in the article you link. The whole issue really does boil down to whether or not a person in the military is going to be asked to do something immoral or illegal. While there are pressures in the service – as there are in virtually all areas of human life – the line between unpleasant and immoral, between undesirable and illegal, is actually very clear in my opinion. And my experience in the USMC was that far from being a band of automatons, Marines, even low ranking enlisted Marines, have a good sense of where the line is to be drawn and would not waltz over it just for the sake of following orders – even if they are being screamed at to do something they think is wrong. There are exceptions – as in all things and all areas of life – but that would not be the rule in my experience, and everything I have seen since that time indicates to me that the quality of personnel in the Armed Forces has generally improved in the last half century. When antichrist takes over, things will be different of course. But I have always stressed the differences between the present time and the Tribulation to come. All the more reason for Christians in service and out to make learning the Bible and all the truth it contains their top priority – that is the only way to gauge the differences between periods and the actions that may be appropriate to one but not to the other.

Yours in Jesus Christ in whom we have put our entire hope and trust,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Dear Bob,

I am not against people serving in the military, but many of my friends tend to see people in the military as 'murderous'. They have told me that I probably can't understand the truth since I actually served in the military and have been 'brainwashed' by them. Even though I think these people lack some maturity in certain areas, they are actually much more mature overall than most people I've met who claim to be Christians.

Here are some example:

"I can remember while in basic training learning how to become a "killing machine" (as the drill sergeants would often call us) that we would sing some of the most bloody cadence and shout the most murderous words. The drill sergeant would yell "What makes the green grass grow!!!" to which we were brainwashed to answer as loud as we could "BLOOD, BLOOD!!! RED, RED BLOOD DRILL SERGEANT!!!". Meanwhile my dog tags dangling from my neck had "Christian" stamped as my religion". 

"My conscience didn't feel good about it then and thankfully now I understand the grave error of serving in the military. Christians should not serve in the military. No one should, really, but especially Christians! No one can claim to be a follower of Jesus and at the same time follow orders to kill or even to train to kill or support such. May more soldiers lay down their arms and repent! God bless!"

"Yeah I believe as hearing from those who are presently active in the Military that A LOT of brainwashing goes on. Especially during basic training."

"It is unbelievable! It's not just brainwashing that goes on. There is A LOT of mental abuse and an atmosphere of the strong attacking the weak is promoted. You hear a lot and see a lot more than you bargained for when going through such training. At the end you are quite desensitized."

"There is a claim that going through boot camp or basic training will make men out of boys. Not so! It takes boys and destroys the man God intended each of them to be. Every young man that enters the military has his conscience seared like a pig that gets roasted alive before going to slaughter! From day one they dehumanize you and teach you to dehumanize others. This is no environment for the saint. A true saint would leave seconds after arriving to basic training if they even made it that far! I speak based on my experience serving in the US Army in the infantry division."

"I have seen things and been exposed to things so immoral and wicked it is not even worth mentioning here so as to prevent one's mind from being polluted more by the evils of this world. I wish I could erase it all from my mind. I wish there was a way to forget! I sometimes feel like my mind is forever scarred because of the ugliness I have seen in this world as a result of doing my time in military service. That's why it disturbs me to no end to see and hear "Christians" everywhere support military service and wicked murdering Presidents like Bush (who most evangelicals have been duped into believing is a Christian... Wow! What utter delusion!) and now Obama who continues to send their sons and daughters off to fight! I hate churches that proudly wave the flag of a nation that hates God! I hear so many say that we are a Christian nation. Really? No nation has ever truly been Christian nor will there ever be, but then again most have been fed a bunch of lies in their history books."

"I realize I could have died while training in the military or when I went to Kuwait due to any number of reasons. I know it is God's mercy and long suffering patience that I am alive today to share my testimony. By the grace of God I truly understand now what is expected of me as a follower of Christ. Military service is not part of it. In fact, it is absolutely opposed the message of the Gospel."

"Get out while you can soldier if you are reading this! You are not to be a soldier destroying the flesh of men just like you! You are to repent and be a soldier of truth seeking to slay the principalities of darkness and shatter the lies with the TRUTH of Jesus! Our battlefield is not physical! Shed your earthly battle rattle and put on the armor of God! Peace has never been obtained by the sword! HE IS OUR PEACE!"

"Believers DID NOT participate before Constantine..... Since then, WAR has been glorified to the point that it is actually part of most "Believers" mental furniture. Don't believe it? Try moving their "furniture" around...."

"I was very patriotic and pro-American military as a new believer. But the Lord began to show me the value of a human being no matter what country he lives in, and that I am indebted to all men because I know the truth. I would rather die than entangle myself in this bloody world's power struggles now. It is the believer's mission to rescue, not destroy."

"One thing we hear at the abortion clinic sometimes is if we are pro-war, we are hypocrites for claiming to be pro-life. I agree with that charge, and I think professing Christians should examine themselves to see if they are in the faith."

"Most unbelievers know that the average church-goer is pro-war! What a sad testimony!"

"It is so sad, and quite a revelation of just how deceived many are, that so many professing Christians support war and military service. It is hypocritical for sure to supposedly stand for life by standing against abortion yet praising military service. The hands of the church are covered in blood today! How can we ignore all the orphans and widows and destruction in the wake of our wicked wars? There is not a single justifiable war coming from this nation or ANY other! What's worse is this current administration's support of Syrian rebels is resulting in the massacres of our brothers and sisters in Christ over there, including their children! Yet, many churches in a few days will be singing about the red, white and blue and praising our troops and enjoying fireworks displays as they live under the illusion that they are free and that it is because of the troops. We get our freedom from God and no other! How does torture, racism, murder, rape, theft, greed and idolatry fit into the Christian picture? It doesn't! It is anathema to how Christians are to walk. We are to love each other. This includes loving our enemies (fabled or real). Can we love them by destroying their lives? Of course not? So why are so many churches essentially worshipping military service and waving flags in nationalistic idolatry? Because they are deceived, but God is not mocked! They must reexamine their faith OR ELSE!!! I had to reexamine my faith and repent! I had to repent of my blind patriotism and bloodied hands that used to support military service and war. I am a veteran who now understands the grave error of serving the military industrialized complex of death and destruction. I've been to Kuwait and seen the wake of war. It is not worthy to be praised. Our troops should not have ANY of our support. Only our prayers that their blinded eyes may see the truth! Melissa, I like the line where you said "You cannot separate the military from its government. The first exists to be sacrificed, that the second might increase in unholy power." Amen!!! Thanks again for sharing! Please share this sort of insightful thought provoking info anytime. God bless you!"

"How can you love your enemies and drone them, shoot them, tank them and who knows what other killing machine is out there."

"When training for hand to hand combat we were told to yell "KILL, KILL, KILL!!!" as we charged a dummy person and ran or through with a bayonet. Even then these sort of actions troubled me, but such uneasiness was quickly forgotten since what I was doing had the support of my family and friends and local church. I wish someone would have told me otherwise and provoked me to think more about my actions. Instead, I had this idea that those who spoke against war were hippies or tree huggers or socialist liberals. They weren't good conservative Republicans like me. The reality is JESUS is against military service and war. Read Matthew chapter 5 and the message is quite clear for those who have ears to hear. Also, read the story of Peter slicing off Malchus' ear and Jesus saying to "put up thy sword". As saints we are to humbly go to the slaughter as Jesus did, if necessary, before we raise a hand against another. The New Testament clearly demands that we love at peace with ALL. How is this accomplished supporting the killing fields of war? Obviously it is not! ...and by the way, Romans 13 DOES NOT condone modern warfare as we know it nor is such a passage applicable to saints. Although, many a good Baptist will try to argue that it does. Sigh! By the way, though it has cost me to take a REAL position of pro-life (not the hypocritical anti-abortion yet pro-war stance many take) by defending the life of the unborn and the born, I have also been blessed to find myself in the company of true friends. When I say true friends I mean those who truly follow Jesus. A REAL friend of Jesus is a friend of mine. I am not content with the division that has been caused by standing against military service and this wicked government, but I realize it is a reality. I wish that is wasn't so. I miss those who have decided to take my stance as a personal attack or anti-American or even anti-Christ. I've been told some pretty harsh things because I stand with Jesus on this. So be it! His truth is marching on. We are to present it as humbly and loving and peacefully as we can. The resulting division and hate and violence Jesus said would happen. Why? Because ultimately many love their sin and their idolatry more than God! Let us live at peace with one another and withhold our support of bloody wars and greedy governments! God bless!"

So anyway, Robert, those are some of the views of some I felt close to before, but now they would say I was a hypocrite for saying I was "pro-life", while I don't take a stand against military service. I personally went into the military because it was basically like a "leap of faith" and I was hoping the Lord would lead me into a way to witness for Him more effectively. I went to a Christian college prior to that in hopes to be a missionary, but I could not agree with some of their teachings (especially their water baptism teachings) so I stopped attending there. Even though I do agree in some respects concerning the facts that the military is filled with excessive immorality/wickedness, and there is mental abuse and brainwashing and so I would probably not recommend for most people to join and especially not females, however I do resent that he seems to imply that it is impossible to be in the military and to be a sincere dedicated Christian at the same time. Do you respond to people such as this and their accusations, or do you think it best to just ignore them?

Thank you for listening and for allowing me to vent a little and I always greatly appreciate all your wise and sound answers!

Your friend in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Response #2:

It's always great to hear from you, my friend, and I am very happy to hear that the previous response was helpful to you. In my own experience, there's nothing like the truth of the Word of God. It puts "eyes" into our head to see clearly where before we were clueless – and that goes for everyone who has ever learned anything about God's truth. We all have to learn the same way, namely, through the power of the Spirit who makes the truth we put ourselves into a position to hear real to us so that we may believe it. When we do, it becomes not just knowledge but what is called in scripture "epignosis". The word is hard to translate; it might be rendered something like "directed knowledge" or "acknowledged knowledge", but what it means is truth which is not only intellectually understood but actually made part of a person's "heart store" of truth through the Spirit and through the act of actually having believed it. No truth is any good to anyone without belief.

As to these posts and your questions, it seems to me that there are two issues here: 1) what is the truth about all these matters?; and 2) what is the best way to communicate them to others? To take the second question first, as I often have occasion to remark, I am not gifted in apologetics. I do think that some Christians are, and I definitely think that there is a time and a place for standing up for the truth (that goes for all Christians); but as to the mechanics of the best way, the best time, and the best methods to employ, that would seem to me to depend upon the circumstances, the media, and personalities involved. Personally, I try to stay away from all arguments and discussions that have veered into anything that might be considered political because politics have a way of taking over the "field of battle" and reducing any Christian concerns that were at the forefront when the discussion began to mere window dressing in a worldly fight. The remarks shared in this email certainly cross that line at various points. I am not saying that it would be wrong to engage on these terms; I am merely saying that 1) such decisions are best made by the person in question, and 2) are best steered by the Spirit in conjunction with the gifts and "full-knowledge" of that person. You are clearly someone with gifts in this area and you also are a Christian with a good level of spiritual maturity and understanding; so I would leave it to you to decide "if and when", merely adding the caveat I always give to do your best as far as you can from your end to keep it spiritual and stay away from politics.

That does lead to the second issue, namely, the substance and "what is the truth?". In my mind there is no question but that military service is an honorable profession, and that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with a Christian joining the military. Indeed, as with law enforcement, this is a profession of self-sacrifice where considerable risk is taken on for the benefit of others. This is not to say that any military organization is perfect, and certainly not that all the individuals in a military organization are perfect. After all, we live in the world. Short of "going out of the world", we are going to encounter godless unbelievers of many stripes and all manner of questionable behavior in whatever we do to earn our daily bread:

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet [I] certainly [did] not [mean] with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person.
1st Corinthians 5:9-11 NKJV

As these verses make clear, Christians are to be discerning in their "optional" relationships, particularly when it is a case of offensive "brethren"; God knows very well that if we are walking and working in the world, we will bump into all manner of questionable persons and actions. The mark of a Christian is to eschew foul behavior in his/her own actions, and to keep everything with persons who don't on a purely professional basis. This is, in my opinion, easier to do in the military than in some other areas of life, because, generally speaking, military organizations run a "tighter ship" than most civilian organizations/companies/groups do, so that while on both sides there may codes of propriety, one is more likely to find them functioning properly in the military. To be sure there are lapses everywhere, but a mature Christian ought to be able to navigate such roiled waters whether inside or outside of the military.

The impression that some of your correspondents have (or wish to leave) is that the only two possibilities in this regard are rabid, unthinking patriotism and pacifistic, anti-military rejectionism. The sweet-spot is in the middle, however. Personally, I have no problem understanding that my allegiance is to Jesus Christ. While I am very happy to be an American and do my duty as such, I have no illusions about my country's problems and the flaws in our government, society, foreign and domestic policy. Any Christian who cannot distinguish between the loyalty and commitment they owe to Jesus Christ and the loyalty and commitment they owe to their country – and keep these in the proper relationship of Christ first and everything else second – certainly has no business joining the military. The military presents a great number of challenges to faith and practice (as do other experiences, going to college, for example), and as with all difficult endeavors in life, only the spiritually mature are likely to navigate such challenging times in an honorable, Christian way. Joining the military no more constitutes a ratification of bad behavior of some of the individuals therein or the policies of the government than does, say, joining a law firm where many of those working there may be immoral and where some of the tactics employed may occasionally be questionable and sometimes result in miscarriages of justice. One could make this comparison about almost any profession.

The Bible never condemns being in the military; quite to the contrary, those in the military come in for commendation for their actions on numerous occasions (the appeal to the beatitudes is a mere canard inasmuch as there are plenty of things in that perfect code of conduct that could be used to rebuke the behavior of any human being alive). For the details on this, please see the links:

Christian Love: The Golden Rule, Christian Military Service and Self-Defense

Qualms about military service

What does the Bible say about War, History, and Politics?

The Bible on war

Preemption and self-defense

As I say at certain points in these links, overall political circumstances do matter. If I were drafted into the US Navy during WWII, any objection of conscious to serving would be difficult to sustain, in my opinion. However, if, during the same conflict, I lived in Germany and had been drafted into the Waffen SS so as to round up and execute Jews in the Ukraine, who would doubt but that a Christian should renege (regardless of consequences)? So as we draw nearer to the end times, the issue of "whom are you serving" is becoming more and more of a valid one. At present, we live in republic which is not in principle entirely anti-God in its constitution or overall practices; as long as that is the case, obeying its laws and serving its agencies, including the military, is not, in my view, sinful. And as I say, given the risks taken on behalf of the rest of us by men and women in uniform, military service is in my view sacrificial and honorable. The day may come when things change so much that it will no longer be advisable for Christians to serve. That day came in Weimar Germany when the armed forces were told to swear an oath not to the country but to Adolph Hitler personally. In my view, that was the breaking point. We are not there yet in this country. But it is not amiss to consider the dangers of fatal compromise stemming from the future possibility of Christian military service under antichrist during the Tribulation (that would go for being in law enforcement at that future time as well).

The military is tough in many ways. It is not for sissies, physical or spiritual. For believers who have gained a sufficient level of maturity, it can be a wonderful, toughening experience; for those who are not ready for it, however, it can be very damaging.

Finally, abortion is a terrible thing (and unquestionably a sin). Technically speaking, however, it is not murder (at least in God's eyes; see the link). That is because human life only begins at birth when the Lord places the human spirit into the just-born infant (coinciding with the first independent breath). The expression of this truth often enrages anti-abortionists. But why should it? If that is what the Bible teaches (and it is), then that is what the Bible teaches. The fact of people getting upset about the truth on this point has more to do with the fact that they are disturbed at the possibility of losing a strong emotional and political point: if an act is murder, it ought to be against the law; if an act is murder, it may dissuade people from engaging in it more than if it were "merely" a horrible sin (which abortion most certainly is). But that is no justification for trampling the truth underfoot for the sake of a "higher cause" – there is no higher cause than God's truth. The ends never justify the means, especially if those ends entail distorting God's truth. Why not call abortion treason, or the unpardonable sin? I know enough about rhetoric and the Bible to be able to make a plausible (false) argument for either one. In my experience, every scrap of truth in scripture is important, every principle is key – for those trying to grow up spiritually, walk ever closer to the Lord, and help others do the same. Some truths we eagerly embrace; some are harder for us to accept; but they are all there for a reason. If we do seek out and set ourselves to believing the truth regardless of our personal feelings, we will grow and, in the end, all of our doubts and reticence will dissolve. If, however, we set ourselves and our emotional predispositions up as umpires as to what may or may not be true, it will only retard our growth and, in extreme cases, may make us vulnerable to capture by those using these chinks in our armor to bend us to their evil devices. But for those who willfully manipulate the truth in order to achieve personal and political ends, well, I would like to say that there is a special corner of hell reserved; however, all hell will be "hell". God wants all to be saved; I have a hard time believing that any who would distort His Word for ulterior ends are.

Your friend in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the dear Lord and Savior who died that we might live.

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob,

That response of yours about the military really made my day and just lifted a burden off of me. I'm always so grateful for your constant mature, calm, logical, matter of fact responses and that really has had a big influence on my life and has helped me to seek to react to a higher degree in that manner toward others as well. That was a true masterpiece concerning what you wrote about the military, and I did post a portion of what you wrote since I hope and pray it might edify a few others who have been shown disrespect in this area.

And also a big "Amen" to what you said here: "If we do seek out and set ourselves to believing the truth regardless of our personal feelings, we will grow and, in the end, all of our doubts and reticence will dissolve. If, however, we set ourselves and our emotional predispositions up as umpires as to what may or may not be true, it will only retard our growth and, in extreme cases, may make us vulnerable to capture by those using these chinks in our armor to bend us to their evil devices."

I so deeply agree with that! It just burdens me though at times that some people get so hardened due to emotional predispositions etc, but perhaps they think I am 'hardened' because I may not agree with their viewpoint. I do try to refrain from arguing if others have some differing views than I do, and I just simply seek to kindly share one of your articles pertaining to a particular subject with them, and then if they are edified by it or upset by it, I just figure that I tried my best and then move on. But yes, I can understand what you are saying about the abortion issue and that does make good sense, and thank you for sharing those thoughts. I could not share what you wrote about abortion with many people I know though since they are simply not ready to hear that and would probably react very angrily.

You mentioned at the end about people who willfully manipulate the truth as being under stricter judgment by God. Do you think that Pentecostals willfully manipulate the truth or are most of them simply confused? I sort of admired Pentecostals for some time because they were some of the few people I could talk to who seemed to not be 'dead' and had some sort of zealousness for God. But the more I understood their beliefs, the more I just had to part ways with them basically altogether. And then when I found your site some months ago, it fully convinced me that my thinking had been on the right track and that it was wise for me to not to develop real close friendships with them. It seems that such a great number of people have some sort of Pentecostal belief ingrained deep down inside of them, and I'm not sure if they can break free. They also tend to get very offended and think a person lacks 'super spiritual power' if someone disagrees with their views. It's overwhelming to me at times to consider how Pentecostalism has gained control of the minds of so many out there in the last century or so.

That makes me even more grateful for your website because it really helps me to not "be tossed about by all these strange winds of doctrine" that have captured such a large percent of people out there. It's such a blessing to see that you are so stabilized and grounded in the truth and I am very thankful for the spiritual growth I've gained in these last months.

Your ever grateful friend in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Response #3:

Thank you!

Once again, I am humbled by your gracious attitude and your responsiveness to the truth.

As to Pentecostalism, yes, it is a problem. When so many Christians are so lacking in any sort of solid truth in their hearts, a search for "something" out there can often seem to have been successful in the emotionalism of these environments. But emotion doesn't last, and the "rosy glow" always fades, leaving behind only the detritus of some very mixed up doctrine (at best) and some horrific anti-biblical practices (in very many cases). As someone who had a run in with these types many years ago, all I can say is that for those who are truly seeking the Lord, He will provide the truth in due time, and will deliver us out from under all false systems and "wrong places" into the just the right place to meet the true needs and genuine willingness of heart of all who belong to Him.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Bob,

I was a little surprised that you were once into Pentecostalism a bit at one time, but what a joy that you came out of it. I can't even count the amount of people who have tried to keep me or get me into the clutches of that sort of thing, but it never sits right with my conscience and I've always soon had to part ways with anything of that nature. I was also surprised to read that you were baptized as an infant and immersed as an adult (and the same situations occurred to me as well), but I too had no "spiritual awakening" etc. occur after my immersion as a teenager and I hold the same views as you do concerning all that. Amen, what a joy that the Lord faithfully does provide the truth in due time and all these experiences do help us to grow in wisdom and discernment and to overcome.

God bless you richly as you continue to minister to a world in dire need of sound and sensible truth!

Your friend in Christ Jesus our faithful and precious Lord,

Response #4:

I had a very dear friend pass away unexpectedly many years ago. She was a member of a small church which turned out to be Charismatic, and they befriended me at that point of great emotional vulnerability. I don't claim to have been exploited, but it is fair to say but for the trauma of the situation I would never have opened up to exploring the possibility of what they were saying and doing. It was a mistake, and I take responsibility for it, but there was a context. The "adult immersion" took place as part of this experience; the infant immersion came about because my dad was a Presbyterian minister. One of the things I have learned in my struggle to draw close to the Lord is that the Spirit will guide a person with conscience and truth . . . if the Christian in question is willing to be led. We all have to walk a fine line between being rock-solid strong in what we believe on the one hand, and flexible enough to admit it when we realize we are wrong on any point. Pride militates against the latter; doubt and lukewarmness against the former. But for all who are truly trying to walk in love after the manner of our dear Lord, the truth will rise above all other considerations, making itself crystal clear in the power of the Spirit's ministry that it is indeed the truth.

Your dedication in seeking the truth is a great encouragement.

In our dear Lord Jesus who is the truth, the very Word of God.

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for explaining that. Even though you were probably extremely discerning many years ago too as you are today, sometimes these things can happen for various reasons. Everything turns out to be a good learning experience though and gives us even more discernment.

It's very easy to get caught up in a wrong group for one reason or another I think. I think one of the difficulties is that some people can have excellent beliefs/teachings in certain areas, but then in other areas these same people can have very unusual strange type teachings. A person once mailed me some Emanuel Swedenborg books, and I do agree with that person that Emanuel does have some very sound and good teachings in certain areas like faith and sin and he is also very well spoken and courteous sounding. But Swedenborg is also a mystic who claims to have traveled to the 3rd heavens on a regular basis and speak regularly to the deceased etc and I often wonder what causes these mystics to concoct these stories with such convincing certainty of all their outer body experiences. I've thrown those Swedenborg books away. There are also teachers like Arnold Murray who do sound very kind and have very good teachings in certain areas. But once a person digs deeper into Arnold's teachings they will find that he teaches odd things such as "serpent seed" (Eve and the serpent in an intimate relationship) and about "Kenites" etc. I did like Arnold's teachings for a few months, but once I find such odd teachings as that I quickly leave because I know more and more strange and wrong teachings are going to arise. I have also checked into Swedenborgian groups and Arnold Murray groups on facebook and the Swedenborgians are very liberal overall such as they normally think gay and lesbian relationships are fine, and the Arnold Murray groups are not deep into the wonderful heart of the gospel as you are (and how I feel all true Christians should be), but tend to obsess over the "kenites" and "serpent seed".

So after sincerely seeking, but experiencing countless strange teachings in the world, it makes me feel even more thankful and blessed to have found a ministry such as yours that I know I can trust and that focuses on what truly matters.

God bless you dear friend!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Thank you!

Response #5:

I always appreciate your thoughtful replies – as well as your understanding and sympathetic manner. As you say, there are more than enough "tells" when it comes to false or potentially dangerous ministries to warn off any believer who is paying attention to the Spirit (at least eventually if not always initially).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hello Brother Bob,

It's been some time since I have written. As always, I value and respect the wisdom our God gives you in your replies. My question is: In light of the recent rulings on gays, what spiritual wisdom should the church give as to how the general laity should respond. What kind of people ought we to be? Eventually the government will mandate its political correctness, and we are struggling with, spiritual correctness. We are to live in, through, and offer the love of God with gentleness and truth (how do we do this). I know that God’s word has no value until the individual wants its value. Seeing ourselves in the mirror of it’s truth points out our INDIVIDUAL sin. All have sinned, but by Grace thru faith we all can be saved. My emotions are all mixed up. There has to be a great opportunity here. How do we seize it?

I respect the wisdom God gives you, and look forward to your comment.

God’s Blessings to all who help with this-

Response #6:

Always good to hear from you, my friend. As to your question, here is what I read in the New Testament on what I think is the underlying issue:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:1-8 NIV

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1st Peter 2:12-17

These statements from Paul and Peter respectively are very clear. They command us to be obedient citizens in every way, and the only exception to this, I would argue, would be if ever a government commanded us to do something personally that was contrary to our Christian principles (and if so, we need to be ready to give up our lives as martyrs). As made clear above, paying taxes, however onerous, does not fall into that category, for example. Keep in mind as well, that Peter and Paul wrote these amazing passages under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to Christians who lived in the Roman empire, and the empire, of course, was pagan – and not just populated by pagan people: pagan religion was the established religion of Rome, and so much so that it was often difficult for a Christian to live a normal life without running afoul of pagan practices (please see the link: Peter #1: Historical Background). It was obligatory, for example, to sacrifice to the emperor when commanded to do so (for a variety of reasons), and refusing was a capital offense. If Peter and Paul can command absolute obedience to an entirely pagan regime which had institutionalized its false religion to such a degree that occasionally Christians would be martyred for necessarily refusing to abide by those false pagan practices, then it seems to me that Christians today, especially in this country, have very clear marching orders.

The problems come when Christians start to worry about or actually do get involved in politics, and so come to see things through a political prism. Whatever un-Christian things the government and/or the society at large involve themselves in, that is no great concern of ours. Our concern as followers of Jesus Christ is to pursue spiritual growth, make every effort to walk closer to Jesus Christ day by day, and to evidence His love for the world and especially for His Church through the gifts and ministries we have been given. As long as we can fulfill our purpose for Christ, the environment in which we do it is of no particular consequence. Trying to change the devil's world is not only a distraction which has caused the shipwreck of the faith of more than one Christian – it is also impossible.

We stand on the cusp of the end times, and things are going to get much worse before the Lord returns. My advice is to make lemonade out of these lemons and begin to inure ourselves now to all things that are out of our control and in which we really should not be dabbling anyway.

Here are some links on this which may be of help:

The role of politics in Satan's world system

Political Action versus Biblical Christianity

Politics a pitfall for Christians

Should Christians ever oppose state authority?

Christians should stay out of politics

Please feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

The series of posts I plan to make in the next few days is going to discuss the "political hot topic issues" within Christianity, those that make politics a dangerous game for Christians to play. I tentatively plan to include homosexuality and female pastors/role of women, as well as abortion (already covered) and perhaps the death penalty. My overall strategy is to show how behavior by certain parties within the conflicts over these issues invariably leads Christians down the wrong path. I'll be eligible to vote in the next big election; the question I have to ask: should Christians bother voting at all? I well understand the risks associated with playing the game, but like others have voiced, it does not seem so wrong to use our democratic voice to at least try to hold on to some semblance of morality in our culture, no? The election will of course come down to a choice between the lesser of two evils, but even so, should we not at least try to make sure it is in fact the lesser evil that is elected? This is very pertinent to what my blog will be about for the next while, so I want to make sure I get this one right. I am hesitant to make a statement of "thou shalt not vote" when none exists in the Bible, but I also want to make sure I convey how dangerous polarizing political opinions can be. What it boils down is whether Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-21 (which speak of living under the authority of national law) can be taken to mean that we should not worry about changing/concerning ourselves with laws period. Thoughts?

Response #7:

I think you have this exactly right as well. Also, I would never want to suggest that there is anything wrong for citizens in a democracy with voting, even if they are Christians. The main thing I would want every Christian to understand, however, is just what you are trying to get across, namely, that it is very tempting to get caught up in political partisanship and to buy into the satanic point of view that there are political solutions to a country's "problems". In fact, there are only spiritual solutions. A country receives the government it deserves. If there is a remnant of believers large enough and strong enough for the Lord in any country, that country will be blessed (whether they vote or can vote or not); but if a country is antagonizing the Lord and lacks any sort of sizable remnant of mature believers who are truly making a difference for the Lord through spiritual growth, then no amount of politicking will make a difference for good – God cannot be out-voted.

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.
Proverbs 21:3 NIV

Even if the entire Christian community of this country banded together and decided upon a slate of "good" candidates and got them all elected nationwide, my fear is that, assuming we deserve hard times instead of good ones, these "good" candidates would end up doing "bad" things (objectively) – or would be insufficient to the challenges and troubles that came anyway. And if the Christians in question – especially the genuine believers and most especially those who are really part of the remnant, those growing in the Lord through His Word – were to compromise and subvert their own spiritual growth by wasting years of time campaigning and also by imbuing themselves with the worldly viewpoint that human solutions are what really count, then the experience will only have back-fired . . . for us all. As with most areas of application, there is a sensible middle-ground. There's nothing wrong with voting, as long as the Christian in question does not delude him/herself into thinking that it will make any difference, does not become partisan so as to be hostile to others – and also adopting partisan positions which may very well not be godly.

Question #8:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

I've been trying to find the right college to attend. But I'm worried about pagan mascots at this one place, and also a tendency towards sexual aberration. I'm concerned about going to an all female college and then never getting married. I'm also concerned about atheism, because I know that this is big on college campuses generally. What do you think? Should I go to college or not? It's likely to affect my potential choice of careers if I do or I don't.

Response #8:

First, as far are secularism in college is concerned, the world is secular, the world is filled with all manner of wrong and anti-God beliefs propagated by non-believers and orchestrated by the devil himself. However, as the apostle Paul tells us, to avoid such things altogether, we would have to "go out of the world" (1Cor.5:10). That is not only an impossibility – it is also a very ill-advised thing to attempt. That is not to say that we should not take into serious consideration the negative influences that one college may wield on us versus another, only that "college is college" and finding a place where there is no negative influence is impossible (even, in my opinion, when it comes to Bible colleges, though admittedly the problems would be different). It is possible to make a good marriage (based upon what we can tell about the other person's character and spirituality); it is also possible to make a bad one (by ignoring this question in preference to other factors). The same is true with our career choices, and indeed to a larger or smaller degree with all of the choices we make. But if we are putting the Lord first in our thinking, structuring our lives with the goal of growing spiritually, making progress in our walk with Jesus, and eventually coming into the ministry He has for us, everything else will take care of itself. It is only when we are concentrating on living life for ourselves instead of for the Lord that we stand to run into trouble.

Question #9:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for your comments about my present college experience. I hope I didn't set a wrong viewpoint of my professors/professors in general. I have nothing but the utmost respect for them and am grateful for their knowledge. The thing that was baffling to me was that four of mine this semester were just blatantly bashing Christian beliefs and I was just absolutely amazed at what I was hearing. I've had atheist professors before of course as is somewhat expected especially at a public university. I just found it somewhat disrespectful and made my mood along with what I'm going through even worse (especially considering each of their syllabi says that students and instructors must respect ones individual beliefs no matter what they are). Their views definitely won't shake my faith as I know the truth and no human could ever make me change my mind. I just thought I would clarify that as I reread my email and just thought my wording wasn't the best. Today I just started an archaeology of the Bible class and my professor was very uplifting, it was quite refreshing given what went on previously this week...not to mention interesting. Anyway, just thought I would clarify and let you know that God definitely had his hand on today and am pressing diligently forward. As Corrie ten Boom once said "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still".

In Him,

Response #9:

No worries – I just don't want you to be overly intimidated. Professors tend to be very intelligent and, especially when they are on their own ground in their own classroom, very sure of themselves. However I can tell you in no uncertain terms that my colleagues around the world are fallible human beings in every respect. Inasmuch as they have spent their lives developing expertise in some particular field, they also often make the same mistake very common to doctors and engineers of thinking that therefore they are "know it alls" about everything else as well. Generally speaking, however, the average spiritual I.Q. of the average professor is, in my experience, barely above "plant life". That is because – again, in most cases but not all as there are wonderful exceptions – they have consistently hardened their hearts through dedication to empiricism to the idea of anything beyond what the material which the eye can see.

Glad to hear you are enjoying your semester!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

"...he now found himself confronted with the intriguing prospect of introducing a fatal disease, so to speak, among the growing ranks of the spiritually weak. If he were not allowed to give such a disease to humanity (and thus destroy us apart from our free will), Satan discerned that granting us an opportunity to contract such a disease would be a different matter. Offering the possibility of cohabitation with some of his followers would be an attractive leaven that would soon infect the whole lump."

Here you speak of the "cohabitation with fallen angels and women" of the time. It appears that a similar condition is succeeding through homosexual activity, world wide. While this might not effect the destruction of the whole human race, it is certainly making the inroads that Satan appreciates.

Very good work in the "Angelology" teaching.

S/F,

PS... how does your biblical teachings go over in the academic surroundings?

Response #10:

Being a professor is not a bad job to support this ministry. It is more time-consuming than I imagined on the outside looking in many years ago, but it does allow flexibility of scheduling and, once a certain level is reached after all those degrees and then all those additional years getting tenure, a reasonable amount of time to do what is most important. Also, much of my time is spent in teaching, and that has application for doing these studies because it helps one learn how to approach issues from various ways until most everyone "gets it" (at least good teaching does that). The research I do also pays dividends because it involves me in careful analysis of ancient Greek texts (for the most part) and that has obvious application for biblical studies; having to make careful and closely reasoned arguments which must pass the scrutiny of wildly qualified and intelligent Classicists is also very good for the acumen, if not for the ego (both of which things are positive). I am blessed to have colleagues with whom I am universally on good terms, but then I generally leave work at the office (and prudently avoid politics and other such matters as best as I can). So the formula has worked well for me, but unquestionably so because the Lord has given me peace on this "front" (and I truly appreciate it).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

Sorry to email you twice in one day. I just had a really important question come up. Is it sinful to choose a major based on how much money you can potentially make? I'm thinking of going back to school. I was looking through some programs of study, and couldn't decide on anything. About the only thing I like would be related to an English major. I don't think there is much money in that. I don't know what job I could get either. I don't want to be a teacher, I know that for sure. I also don't want to be a writer of any kind at this point in my life. About the only thing I'm sure of is that I want to make money. I was thinking about being an engineering major. I don't really like math, but if it'll make me money. Do you have any ideas about what I should major in? Should I even go back to school? I messed up pretty badly last time.

Thanks,

Response #11:

It's no problem.  Write whenever you want. As to careers, there are many factors to take into account. "Practicality" is certainly one of them, but on the other hand so are a person's talents and a person's likes and dislikes. Being a medical doctor is honorable and lucrative, but if a person despises the whole idea and is only going to med school for the career, that strikes me as a completely wasted life of self-torture (not to mention the poor future patients). I usually tell students to remember that everything in this country and in this life is highly competitive nowadays, so a person might just as well set his/her cap to going after what they really want to do (rather than being "overly practical"). That is because it's going to be a struggle in any case, and having the talent and the motivation to win the battle will be more important in the long run than other seemingly "practical" considerations. As Christians, we need to consider what it is that the Lord is leading us to do. Being gainfully employed is honorable, important, and necessary, from the Christian as well as the practical point of view. I believe that the Lord very often uses our daily professions and occupations to integrate us into ministry, and with spiritual growth and prayerful introspection it is possible to make good decisions on this score. We need to "make money" not only to survive but also to avoid being a burden to others. As long as we do not become "lovers of money rather than lovers of God", setting ourselves to be self-sufficient is a good and honorable thing to do.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

I want to say Thank You for the heart-felt and time-consuming efforts you have made. You and any family have dedicated much of their short lived lives here in the physical form on earth to this ministry. Tho just stumbling onto your site I anticipate it helping open comprehension to a newly found relationship with the one and only true God of all. Life is so short. Thank You again

Response #12:

Thanks so much for your kind and inspiring words. I do hope that Ichthys will be a benefit to your spiritual growth and progress in our dear Lord Jesus Christ. As you so correctly state, the time here is short. As the old hymn rightly has it, "Only one life, twill soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last".

Please feel free to write any time.

In hopes of rejoicing together in your victory and reward at Christ's judgment seat.

Bob Luginbill

Question #13:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

My family member keeps using racial slurs such as the N word and other derogatory and racial slurs. He says that he doesn't use it against those people, only to his friends and family. This is his way of justifying it. He believes he's right. Is there biblical teachings on how racial slurs should not be used at all and in any case?

God Bless,

Response #13:

While I don't know of anything specific in scripture on this exact topic (prejudices were different in the ancient world than they are today), the Bible very deliberately teaches us that the idea that we can list out categorically what is sin and what is not is an illusion (cf. Gal.5:21: "those who do such things" added by Paul to a list of sins to let us know that there are plenty more). That is why, for example, we are to walk according to the law of love so that we will do what is right without having to enumerate what is wrong.  So it is hard for me to see how denigrating someone based upon some external factor that has nothing to do with his/her character can be at all Christian. There is also this:

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Ephesians 4:29 NIV

In my view it is very clear that such comments fall into the category of what we should avoid.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord, in whom there is no male or female, slave or free, Jew or Greek.

Bob L.

Question #14:

Dr. Luginbill,

I was wondering about your honest opinion on a few things. What do you think of the current state of race relations in the U.S.? What are your general thoughts on race? I know a lot of white people think racism is dead. I want to know what you think though. You seem to be an exceptionally level-headed individual. I have really been mulling over my faith lately. I wouldn't say I have been doubting, but I have been questioning some long-held beliefs. I know it probably seems like race and religion are two fairly unrelated issues, but they're not. Not for me at least.

What do you think?

Thanks,

Response #14:

The world is a terrible place. All sorts of people are abused and maltreated all the time for all sorts of reasons, both as individuals and as members of groups. Blessedly, however, our God is no respecter of persons. He is just, He is fair, He is kind, He is loving. He treats every single person as an individual without any prejudice as to their gender, race, culture, age, intelligence or any other extraneous factor . . . considering only what is their heart:

"People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
1st Samuel 16:7 NIV

As Christians, that is the way we need to think and speak and act as well. That is the essence of "love your neighbor as yourself", namely, adopting God's point of view towards others. He wants all to be saved. So should we. And He treats all in the best way for them to be saved and then advance spiritually thereafter. So should we. This can only happen, however, on the individual level. No one is saved because of their spouse; no one is saved because of the family they belong to. No one is saved because of their gender or their race or their culture or their age or their intelligence. And no one is lost because of any these factors upon which the world places so much emphasis but which are meaningless to God – and should be to us. We should exercise love towards everyone . . . individually. And the exercise of that love will always involve the courtesy and kindness which is conducive to freedom and which looks to their salvation and spiritual welfare . . . individually.

One of the greatest traps for Christians throughout the history of the Church has always been politics. Social action of any kind is always at least partially satanic, precisely because it deals with groups, classes, and generalities, rather than with individuals. What matters is what is going on in our heart and how we are treating other specific persons on an individual basis. What happens on TV or in the newspapers or across the country or the world is absolutely extraneous to the Christ-centered life. God has put us on a particular battlefield which we have no way of controlling; all we can control is our own free will, our own decisions. If we make the decision to try to change the battlefield, we are merely playing the devil's game (even as we have ceased to serve Christ). I always advise Christians to stay away from politics and "causes" of any sort. Our job as soldiers of Jesus Christ is very clear: grow spiritually, live like Christians in applying that truth day by day, and help others do the same through whatever personal ministries the Lord gives us to fulfill. Everything else is window-dressing.

You might find these links helpful:

The role of politics in Satan's world system

Political Action versus Biblical Christianity

Politics a pitfall for Christians

Should Christians ever oppose state authority?

Christians should stay out of politics

In hopes and prayers for your continued and continuing grow and confidence in your walk with the Lord.

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

What do you think about the recent verdict? I want your own personal opinion. I have a feeling this is only going to be one more thing to further separate the "church." White Christians do not care about Black Christians, or Black people/POC in general. Did you see any of those tweets about the verdict? If not, you should look it up.

Response #15:

Dear Friend,

When you say, "White Christians do not care about Black Christians, or Black people/POC in general", that has certainly not been my experience when dealing with actual Christians, especially if what you mean by "care" is "to seek their spiritual welfare as one seeks one's own" (i.e., the golden rule of love). Now if the "Christians" you are hanging around with exclude any other genuine Christian from association or care or concern or love because of any extraneous factor (race, ethnicity, gender, social class, etc.), then my advice would be to extricate yourself from said "fellowship".

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Romans 12:16 NIV

Of course, no church is perfect and there are bound to be immature believers in any Bible-teaching fellowship (that is, one hopes, why they are there: to grow spiritually); but if it is a case of institutionalized anti-Christian values, well, you are free to "vote with your feet", after all.

If you are talking about society at large, here is what I read in scripture:

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
Colossians 4:5 NKJV

How do we walk/live "in wisdom"? Walking in wisdom is applying the truth we have learned and believed to our lives as we live in the world. It is wisdom to treat others lovingly and as individuals. It is wisdom to pay attention to what is important. It is wisdom to strive for our personal spiritual growth and that of all our other brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a not wisdom to generalize about groups, parties, races, etc. It is not wisdom to focus on things beyond our control to the detriment of the things that are completely in our control. It is not wisdom to get side-tracked by politics and social action, so as to become distracted from that actual, personal mission the Lord Jesus has given each of us.

How do we "redeem the time"? We do so by putting first things first, by adopting God's point of view and our Lord Jesus' priorities, by striving day by day, step by step in our walk with Him to grow spiritually, live godly, and serve our brothers and sisters in the ministry to which we have been called by Jesus Christ (which we cannot do effectively if we have not bothered to grow to spiritual maturity first). That is true love.

Political action is exciting. Political action is interesting. Political action is addictive. But political action is almost always mutual exclusive of true Christianity. Trying to change the political order in any respect, large or small, is at best a distraction which will, if taken too far, waste a Christian's entire life-opportunity to win rewards that glorify Jesus; if taken to extremes, it can (and often has) swamped faith to the point of apostasy. Since it is so dangerous a game to play, since it will almost never accomplish what the Lord wants accomplished, and since it usually only amounts to getting sucked into playing Satan's game on the devil's home court without ever even accomplishing anything positive, I always advise staying completely away. And I think in this I also have the Spirit of God:

But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and [that] you may lack nothing.
1st Thessalonians 4:10-12 NIV

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Thank you for your quick reply. I always enjoy your responses. I learn a lot from them. Could you please give me your opinion on the verdict?

Response #16:

In the context of the verse quoted last time, here is also what Colossians says in the very next verse:

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Colossians 4:6 NIV

One of my seminary professors once quipped that it seemed to him that every time he got cut off on the freeway it was by a car with a fish-symbol bumper sticker. Funny, but too close to the truth. The point is that advertising ourselves as Christians has all sorts of consequences of which we might not at first be aware – and we are witnesses for Jesus at all times in all we say and do, whether or not we realize it. I have no idea who will be on the ballot during the next presidential election (no one knows for certain), but I am fairly sure that there will be those who will ask my opinion. On the one hand, it really doesn't make the slightest bit of difference to God's carrying out of His plan (it only seems to matter to those who fail to understand His absolute sovereignty); on the other hand, if any Christian takes on a position on such an issue it is bound to alienate a large number of people who become apprised of that opinion, both Christians and unbelievers – and to what end? That is why staking out any sort of public position on controversial secular issues or events is so ill-advised for any Christians (and especially for any Christian in any sort of leadership or quasi-leadership role).

I wasn't there when this happened, nor was I deliberating with the jury. Therefore anything I might say would not only be ill-advised but also misinformed (or at least under-informed, and probably critically so).

I feel bad for all concerned and have prayed for the principles and for the families. I feel that this is not an improper thing to do, and it is really all I feel right in doing.

So apologies in advance for a less than satisfactory answer.

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
1st Timothy 6:11 NIV

In Jesus our dear Lord in whom there is no division nor will be forevermore (Rev.22:3 in the Greek),

Bob L.

Question #17:

Dr. Luginbill,

I'm having serious financial trouble, and I'm considering looking for a job while I continue my college education. The problem is that I have messed up on the academics pretty bad and now have little chance of financial aid. Any advice would be appreciated.

Response #17:

So sorry to hear about your travails. I will certainly be praying for you, both for your guidance, and also for your deliverance.

My old pastor used to say that if a Christian's problems were only financial, then they really didn't have any problems to speak of. Having since experienced a wide variety of trials and tests in my life, horrific debt included, I would not put it that way. I will say that there are worse problems a Christian can have, but that doesn't mean that this one is easy at all.

When it comes to personal advice, you know my reluctance to weigh in. You seem to have analyzed all the angles on this troubling situation. What you need is the Lord's help, and we will definitely pray for that. Having put the matter in God's hands, we Christians do not of course sit on sidelines waiting for help to arrive; in most cases we are responsible to do just what you are attempting to do, namely, form the best, most reasonable, most godly plan we can, and execute it to the best of our ability, God helping us. I know that the situation seems intractable at present, but I am sure that you have seen the Lord deliver you and others from worse scrapes than this (I know I have in my own life, many times). What is needed is faith and confidence in Him, and then putting one's shoulder to the burden and carrying through as Jesus would have us to do. That is easier said than done most days, but that merely illustrates the absolutely critical importance for all Christians of continuing their spiritual growth and aspiring to the closest possible walk with Jesus Christ.

We all make mistakes, especially when we are young (I certainly did). Once we own up to them, there is no shame in walking like a Christian; there is no shame in working, wherever that may be; and there is no necessity that we give others an accounting for our circumstances – it is entirely legitimate to leave that between us and the Lord. While it's not anything any of us would choose, these times of exceptional trial can be the most spiritually profitable. That is because they force us to rely on the Lord as never before and walk closer to Him for support than we otherwise probably would have done.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1st Peter 1:6-7 NIV

Looking forward to your swift deliverance in Jesus Christ, the One who holds heaven and earth together,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi Bob,

[regarding "The Lifelong Activist"]

But I wonder, is this what 2 Timothy 3:5 means by ...'a form of godliness'?

Response #18:

As to 2nd Timothy 3:5, I suppose there may be an application. The verse is talking about false teachers who are not even believers but who put on a sanctified show in order to impress others. Antichrist will be the premier example of this. These individuals will be masters at hiding their true intentions and opinions (rather than blurting them out) in order to better manipulate others.

Still and all you have a point. Some people like to be abused and will defer even more to an authority figure who abuses them than to one who treats them with civility:

In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
2nd Corinthians 11:20-21a

Your brother in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Mr Luginbill,

You have my sincerest thanks for your time and the reply you have sent, it has given me much to think on and I have spent more than a few hours considering your response. I do however apologize for my slow response, as I have only just managed to get a new PC up and running. My old laptop which had seen many years of service and the loving attention of three of five children, was slowly giving up on me. Your reply particularly resonated with me owing to how I have come to no longer identify with the Roman Catholic traditions of my childhood. I am by nature and inquisitive and introspective person, it is not unusual for me to have a number of books going at one time, or to find me staring off into the distance as I order my thoughts. When I was younger, I was always wanting to know why the church did things the way they were done and why the tradition was the way it was. It was my desire when I left school to continue my education along the lines of archaeology or possibly anthropology, as it would afford me an opportunity to indulge the study of things I found fascinating. However my questions were never normally well received and even at a young age, I tired very quickly of being told that the thinking had been done for me by my betters or greater minds and that it was wrong of me to "question" the clergy and Vatican. Apparently in their mind, asking them why the tradition was the way it was and how it got to the way it was, is not the role of a youth or someone in the laity. It did not help either that I was surrounded by the old guard of the Catholic clergy, who normally followed up admonishment with a blow. Even at an early age, I could not reconcile the fact that the Lord would accept people standing and kneeling on cue, mumbling through the mass in a half hearted fashion over someone who genuinely sought knowledge of him, with an open heart and mind to his guidance. In my mind then and now, I thought that this was also proven when the Lord sent Christ to us to teach and counsel, he drew people to him and educated them not dictated to them, his use of the parable so people could understand his word in context to their lives and how he encouraged the faithful to him to ask their questions, whilst heaping scorn on those who would test him or demand parlor tricks was at odds with what I was seeing of his "representatives" on earth. Since this time, I have come across some Catholic priests who are more willing to engage, though at the time, they were rare. Whilst I did not have a word for what I felt, my training to date has allowed me to now put a term to it. There is a concept at law of "informed consent", I am sure that you know of it. In my mind, the concept of an informed spiritual consent, a faith based in a genuine belief and considered thought based on reflection on knowledge and experiences, far outweighs that of the people who I saw mumbling through the services as it was expected of them and they figured that they could hedge their bets. So in that way, much of what you said had impact with me in relation to the Laodicean Church. Added to that, I cannot help but agree that the times we live in seem to be heading in one direction, given the corruption, cult of personality and consumerism which abounds everywhere you look.

So with this in mind, I do have another question if I may. Romans 13 sets out what are our responsibilities in relation to the Government of the day and abiding by the law of the land. However, in Revelations and I am paraphrasing it here, it says that the beast will act through many agents and even government. (Given that every other day here in Australia, we are told of more Government corruption, I can only think that politicians heads will be easily turned.) Where do we stand then, if we find ourselves at a definite spiritual crossroads, between abiding by Romans 13 when that conflicts with something we feel deeply about as being manifestly wrong with Government or its edicts. I ask this as given what I am, there have been times in the past where there were certain expectations of me as a law enforcer, where I did not necessarily agree with it and felt that it may be heavy handed and not in the spirit of the law or my faith...yet I was still expected to act in a certain way. At times, I did not and I wore the repercussions without complaint, however is that right of me, given the content of Romans 13?

Thank you in advance and peace be with you,

Response #19:

Good to hear back from you – you are most welcome. I am always happy to be of some service to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thanks for the background and the interesting observations. As to your most recent question, it's really two questions in my view: first, about the role of those who are in the government (military, police, bureaucracy), and, secondly about the proper attitude of every Christian vis-a-vis the government under which he/she lives. To take the second question first, as I often have occasion to remark, my best advice to all Christians is to stay completely away from politics of any kind (especially any sort of deep personal involvement in the process), and try as much as possible not to worry about political developments or their potential effects. In times past I would probably have wanted to place a caveat on that principle and note that there may situations when things get so dangerous for Christians in a particular country that they should have their radar up enough to notice when it is time to pull up stakes and go elsewhere. On the cusp of the end-times where we find ourselves today, however, there is not going to be any absolutely safe haven when the Tribulation begins. I have, it is true, posited that mystery Babylon, as the home country of antichrist, is likely to be, for all its idolatry, the safest place for believers when the Great Persecution begins. Even that does not guarantee that certain believers will not be persecuted, imprisoned, and shipped off to Jerusalem to be martyred – I fully expect many will be. It is only that the command to "flee Babylon" (see the link), is one that should not be anticipated before it is given. For thoughts about the dangers of playing the devil's game and trying to "fix" his world through political action, however well-intended, please see the links:

The role of politics in Satan's world system

Political Action versus Biblical Christianity

Politics a pitfall for Christians

Should Christians ever oppose state authority?

Christians should stay out of politics

The second question, is a different one, in my view, quantitatively if not qualitatively, because the number of times that most Christians, at least in most western countries, are going to be required by the state to do something that is absolutely contrary to the Bible, or on the other hand be prevented from doing what the Bible tells them to do, are few and far between. In these situations scripture is clear enough about the need to refuse to do what we should not do and to keep doing what we should do, regardless of consequences (Daniel and his three friends stand as salient examples of these two principles respectively). It is very important to note, however, that on such occasions godly people boldly went to their deaths – they did not take up arms against the government (or get deeply involved in a political process to change it). Those in some sort of government service face a different situation, both because their livelihood depends on "following orders", and also because the potential compromises and tests may be more subtle. I have no police background, but drawing on my military experience I would look to the distinction between legal and illegal orders. Christians in service should of course refuse to carry out illegal orders; if things come to such a pass that what a Christian sees to be immoral and antithetical to his/her faith becomes "S.O.P.", then it is time to resign and get out ASAP. The analogy I often use is of those on service in the German army when the Nazis took over and demanded an oath of loyalty to Hitler personally. Naturally, we cannot expect that there will always be such a clear dividing line, but the principle remains the same.

I also think it is fair to say that there are very many situations in any government service, and I would expect particularly in law enforcement, where a Christian might find him/herself forced to make judgment calls about the acceptability of certain practices. During the Tribulation, it is true that it will be impossible (in my view) for Christians to remain without compromise in any sort of government service since the beast will be controlling all human government by the Tribulation's mid-point (please see the links: "Christian military service during the Tribulation" and "Should Christians engage in military service during the Tribulation?"). Until then, however, the state gets the benefit of the doubt in scripture: Peter and Paul were persecuted by Roman and other state officials on a variety of occasions, yet both set a high standard of Christian obedience (Rom.13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1Pet.2:13-17). As I say, as long as we are not being forced to renounce our Lord or acknowledge another, or stopped from Christian worship, assembly and growth, we should be reluctant to consider the line as having been crossed. I do not know the circumstances of the incidents you relate, of course, but I think your application, namely, of refusing to do anything you felt to be wrong and quietly taking the consequences of your refusal is precisely the godly standard – and you are to be congratulated for taking what was surely the more difficult road. I think that if a Christian can keep that standard and still manage to serve in government, then there is nothing to be ashamed of whatsoever, even if in general the government in question is behaving very badly.

Here are some related emails on that topic:

Christian Love: The Golden Rule, Christian Military Service and Self-Defense

Qualms about military service

What does the Bible say about War, History, and Politics?

The Bible on war

Preemption and self-defense

I appreciate your integrity and your desire to grow closer to the Lord. Please feel free to write back any time. You are in my prayers.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello again, Doctor Bob,

I have been praying diligently to be able to do with my life what He wills, and having this prayer for gainful employment answered in such a profound way has me worried about my family . . . because the pay is so low – it's a non-profit organization. I want to do what the Lord wants me to do.

Thank you for all you do

Response #20:

Good to hear from you. I do certainly hope this works out. Non-profits are notoriously on the low side when it comes to remunerating even high level staff (at least the ones which are actually trying to help people are). I will definitely pray for you about this, not only that it will work out in just the right way for you if things are a "go", but also that you will receive a clear answer if it's not to be. Clearly, the Lord does not expect us to work for nothing when we have dependents to support.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.


 

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