Archive for the ‘compromise’ Tag

Impossible Compromise   2 comments

I recently had a conversation with someone who wanted me to compromise some deeply held beliefs. “Why,” she asked, “can’t you compromise? Just don’t emphasize this or that and you will have peace with those around you. What’s the problem? Surely God values peace and love so much that he would never force  you to hold beliefs that put you at odds with the world.”

Image result for image of christian compromiseSo, here on January 1 seems as good a time as any to explain (not for the first time) why Christians cannot compromise with the world.

Compromise is an amicable agreement between parties in controversy. They agree to settle their differences by mutual concession to something that one or both parties considers harmful or depreciative.

Generally, compromise requires conceding a conviction — a fixed or strong belief — for the purpose of achieving unity – a state of being in harmony so that we can continue forward in singleness of purpose or action..

My friend correctly understands that the United States Constitution is “a bundle of compromises”. On that auspicious foundation, she believes I should compromise my Christian beliefs for the unity of the nation. She holds human society higher than faith and she’s right. Compromise in man’s relationships with each other is a necessary means of living together in an imperfect society. Concessions are made every day by all of us, and we are admonished in the word of God to make them. The Scripture instructs us in Romans 12:18:

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”

Image result for image of christian compromiseThat means giving in to get along. So, if we can do that in civil society, why can’t we do that in the churches? While compromise is a necessary evil that we all must live with while we live among people, there is one person in the universe with whom we cannot compromise. God Almighty will not compromise with you or with anyone else. Real compromise is always at the expense of something one desires to do, or what one believes. In the case of Christians, there is the matter of convictions, which are fixed or strong beliefs. We are being asked to give up convictions and to compromise for the sake of unity;

 

Contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not much into compromise. It pays to look at what He actually said and did rather than base what we believe on wishful thinking. Jesus made some very hard and firm statements. Doctrine divides and it should because Jesus said:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34.

This is not an out-of-context comment. Jesus was totally uncompromising with those of His time. It was His way or no way. What a narrow-minded bigot! How could anyone say:

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6.

Jesus is God. His doctrine is divisive. He was uncompromising and the Jews and Romans crucified Him for it. What He taught was unpopular. Doctrine divides! It did in Jesus’ day and it does now. So should doctrine give way to believers all getting together under the banner of “love” or to get alone with the world? Let’s see what the Scripture says:

“And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.” Luke 4:32

Christ’s doctrine astonished those of His day, not only because it was delivered in power, but because it was radically different than the “status quo” of the religious world.

“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” John 7:16

Jesus stated flatly that the doctrine he preached was from above, as in heaven or God. There was no room to compromise in what Jesus says. He was not interested in “getting along” with His religious contemporaries. He was interested only in pleasing his Father.

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13

Paul’s admonition to Timothy was to give attention to doctrine. Yes, that boring and sometimes divisive item was an absolute essential for Timothy in his ministry.

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.John 7:17

It is clear that in order to do God’s will, it is essential to learn sound doctrine.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 1 Timothy 5:17

These elders were honored because they labored in the Word and doctrine. I am sure they would be labeled Bible-believing independent Baptists today. They refused to compromise in this most important arena and Paul praised them for it.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

One of the purposes of God inspiring the Scriptures was to profit us with His doctrine. It is PROFITABLE!

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:2

The word of God is to be preached and doctrine is its cornerstone.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. 2 Timothy 4:3

Does that sound familiar to you? We live in that prophesied time. Men will not endure sound doctrine. They collect instructors … self-help gurus, televangelists, philosophers … Dr. Phil … Oprah Winfrey …Joel Osteen …. These teachers frequently instruct their followers to disregard doctrine. They encourage their followers to emphasize the things they have in common.

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. Titus 1:9

Sound doctrine is necessary to exhort or teach.

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine. Titus 2:1

Last, but not least, there should be doctrine, and it should be “sound”. Sound as in: “free from defect, decay or damage; deserving confidence, trustworthy.”

A unity based on compromising strong belief is a shallow, fragile and ungodly unity. Believers (if they are really true believers at all) are selling God out (compromise) for the sake of an unscriptural unity.

Their unscriptural doctrines and false gospel will not bring them safely home to God, but will lead them. Revelation, chapter 17 discloses a city harboring a religious system that deceives the whole world! The apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:17,18: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” John the human author of the book of Revelation says in Revelation 18:4,5 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

John the human author of the book of Revelation says in Revelation 18:4,5 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”

This present day church is pictured for us in Revelation 3:14:

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

What is he saying? He is standing at the door of His Church that has become apostate (much like so many churches today) and He’s asking if there is anyone there who desires truth, holiness and godliness. If you will open the door He will come and fellowship with you in spite of the wickedness of the remainder of His saints.

Compromise is the great wickedness of the present day church. It’s not that I’m better than anyone else. All Christians are simply sinners saved by the grace of God, with a great desire to lead God’s people out of the apostasy of today’s wicked times into a sweeter fellowship with Christ, based on obedience to the truths revealed in His Holy Word. As a Christian, I am not called to compromise on God’s truth, even when it is inconvenient. There are other Christians who feel the same way I do, though we would rejoice to have others join  us.

Posted January 1, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Got Some Compromise?   Leave a comment

So what should Christians feel or do about those who, based on anti-Biblical ideas, promote, encourage, or condone immoral acts such as sexual immorality (in its many flavors), unethical business practices, gluttony, or false teaching? A case can be made for toleration in the greater church community for a period of time, but that time needs to be limited.

In His letter to the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18), Christ commended the brethren there for some things, but then He took them to task:

“I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess; she teaches and seduces my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time that she should repent, yet she had no inclination to repent of her fornication. Behold, I will throw her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her — into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he who searches the mind and heart: and I will deal with each one of you according to your works.” (paraphrase)

There was, within the church of Thyatira, an influential woman who is called Jezebel. The choice of the epithet, Jezebel, suggests she was similar in character and teaching to the ancient queen who corrupted Israel (1 Kings 16:29; 2 Kings 9:30). This “prophetess” doubtless claimed to teach with divine authority and was persistently seducing and teaching Christians to commit fornication and perform pagan rituals.

Despite her wicked behavior, the Lord gave her time to repent, but she ignored His patience. Judgment was now imminent.

Of more importance to our discussion, Christ strongly rebuked the brethren in Thyatira because they continued to tolerate (apheis — present tense) her false teaching.  Shouldn’t we learn something from this inspired narrative?

What can we learn?

There were those of the ancient church who, by their misguided teaching, promoted adultery and idol worship. There are those in the modern churches who are doing the same thing. The glaring example from this series are the anti-Biblical doctrines regarding divorce and remarriage that actually encourage Christians to continue in adulterous arrangements.

How long can the church go on tolerating compromising views such as these? The debate among modern churches has been going on for decades, but many congregations show no sign of changing their corrupted views and some churches are openly moving in a direction that wholly rejects the Biblical teaching on morality.  Should other Christians ignore their corrupting influence forever?

No!

Soft-Serving God’s Word   Leave a comment

My friend Sylvia lives in Australia, where church attitudes toward drinking (even in Baptist churches) are more relaxed than in the United States. Still, she recently told a story about how her daughter who is the same age as my daughter(21) attended a backyard barbecue held by a local emerging church youth leadership team. There was a mixed age group of 16 to 24. The legal drinking age in Australia is 18, but “responsible adults” may provide alcohol on private property with parental permission if done in a “responsible manner as prescribed by law.”

Okay, I’m all right with that and so is Sylvia. Growing up in a non-Christian home, I drank with my parents from age 13 on. Because my husband Brad is a recovering alcoholic, we’ve encouraged our children not to drink alcohol, but our daughter was comfortable to text me from Mexico on her 21st birthday to say she’d had her first full beer and was “ready to go to sleep now, what a downer”. I prefer sobriety personally, but am in favor of responsible drinking, though I think my definition may be a great deal more strict than many other parents.

What Sylvia’s daughter described, however, didn’t seem “responsible.” It seemed to her (and to her mum and I) that most people were there to “get drunk” rather than exercise control consistent with their Christian beliefs.

Sylvia asserts that many Australian youth are having difficulty distinguishing the difference between Christ-like behavior and the behavior of the world. It’s a fine line that Christian struggle with in every generation, but given the constant barrage of worldly standards and expectations pushed on our youth through all multimedia channels, it’s probably not surprising that they are confused about excessive drinking, casual sex and drug taking.

“Pastors of think they’ll win over the cool kids by forming the church into the cool kids’ pop-culture image are liable to find themselves even less relevant than when they started.” (Brett McCracken, Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide)

McCracken experienced a similar party of churched kids in Los Angeles and he wondered whether “a non-Christian who came to the party would have any clue that these revellers were people devoted to following Christ?” Good question! “I couldn’t see a lot of evidence,” my friend Mark said about a similar party at his neighbor’s house, also in Los Angeles.

The Bible does not require absolutely sobriety. Jesus turned water into wine and it was GREAT wine. Pleasure is meant to be a part of the Christian life, but we are called to something higher than scratching our physical itches. Whatever we do, wherever we do it, we should strive to show Christ in our behavior. I know people who can drink a beer or a glass of wine and still act in a Christ-like manner and they know when to stop drinking before they reach a point where Christ would be ashamed of their representation of Him. I also know people who cannot do that and I estimate that they are the larger group. Obviously, I know about alcoholism, but I would assert that many of those who cross that line cannot excuse their behavior on a genetic weakness, but on a lack of understanding of what it means to live for Christ.

Living an authentic, joyful life in Jesus Christ takes commitment and an understanding of true Christ-like behavior and lifestyle that can only be garnered through sound teaching. The current compromised teachings of the growth-driven, market-oriented, user-friendly “church” leaves many young people searching for answers that the adults around them seem unwilling or unable to provide.

“But a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

The Biblical answer is pretty clear. It doesn’t require a soft-serve version. We need to worship the Father as He asks us to — in Spirit and Truth, for the real power to change people’s lives is God’s alone.

Christian Hope?   Leave a comment

It doesn’t take a lot of research to realize that membership in Christian churches is declining. Why?

Well, the answer to that might take a bit more research.

There are those who will say that evangelical Christianity is just too strict. If we’d ease up on certain Biblical teaching, or better yet, convince everybody that those teachings no longer apply, we’d see people coming back to the church. Is that true?

Hmm?

Did you ever read The Damnation of Theron Ware? Published in England under the title of Illumination it was written in 1986 by American author Harold Frederic. Most common readers haven’t heard of it, but it is widely considered an American literary classic by scholars and critics. Thus I was forced to read it in college.

Some classics deserve the title because they were well-written. I found the plot of Damnation to be manipulative and the characters wooden and one dimensional. There was a sense that the book was written to convince people of the author’s POV rather than to write an exceptional novel. It is a “classic” because that POV appeals to academics who agree with the politics that motivated the book in the first place.

The novel centers on the life of a Methodist pastor (Theron Ware, of course) who has recently moved to a fictional small town in upstate New York. Recently married, Ware has had a number of experiences that cause him to question the Methodist religion, his role as a minister and even the existence of God. His “enlightenment” is encouraged through his dealings with Father Forbes (the town’s Catholic priest), Dr. Ledsmar (a local atheist, philosopher and man of science), and Celia Madden (a local Irish Catholic girl with whom he becomes infatuated). By the end, these three intellectually “advanced” characters find Theron a bore and a philanderer and their rejection leads him to go on a binge. He’s rescued by Brother and Sister Soulsby, practical fundraisers for Methodist congregations who pragmatically send Ware and his wife off to far-flung Washington where perhaps he’ll become a politician.

At the start of the book, Ware is already in debt and has a history of financial mismanagement of a prior church. He doesn’t take kindly to the trustees of his new church telling him how to conduct the ministry. He encounters Father Forbes, the local Catholic priest, and sees his first Catholic rite. He’s intrigued. Over time, he becomes quite infatuated with both the Catholic and atheist ways of thinking and with Celia, the organist for the Catholic church. He finds them all more intelligent and more faithful than he or his fellow Methodists. When he attends a Catholic picnic, they are drinking beer. Theron partakes as Father Forbes explains that their religions really aren’t that different, how one day there will be a single “Church of America” and it will look a lot like the Catholic church.   Ware doubts there will be any church at all because mankind is moving toward an age of science, but Forbes insists that religion is needed for culture. Ware counters that if this is so, he doubts the Catholic church will win out because of its incredibly rigid doctrines. He suggests the Universal Unitarians or the Episcopalians are bland enough to appeal to everybody. Forbes asserts that the Catholic church will win because it compromises while practicing the art of not seeming to compromise. When called on its compromise, it refuses to acknowledge that such as occurred. It only takes a generation for people to forget what used to be rock solid doctrine, so the soft compromise works very well for the Catholic church.

So why am I talking about a scene in an obscure 19th century novel nobody has read?

Because many people today are channeling Father Forbes while encouraging evangelical congregations to compromise. If we want to grow instead of shrink we should …. If the church is really a necessity in culture, we must …

COMPROMISE!

Posted September 8, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Narratives   2 comments

Postmodernism has changed American politics and not for the better. The United States was founded by early-modernists. They believed that there was truth and that truth could be discovered, examined and embraced. “We hold these truths to be self-evident” is a modernist statement.

The Founders (by and large) believed in God as a part of reality. They thought faith had a place in the world. Congress held prayer meetings, a church met in the Capitol for many years, our public buildings are inscribed with Bible verses.

Under no circumstances will I ever argue that Christianity is not the best worldview that any human can have. If God exists and if He created you to have fellowship with Him, you are out of sync with reality if you do not have fellowship with Him and believe that He doesn’t exist. That’s a truth claim that is as certain as the 20-story fall because the Bible doesn’t give you a no-fault opt-out if you don’t want to believe. You come to God on His terms or you perish … eventually. No compromise. Your choice.

On the other hand, the Bible is also pretty clear that Christians can’t force others to believe as we do. Dead men cannot become believers and becoming a Christian believer is not about saying some rote prayer or standing/sitting/floating in some special building while some guy or gal in ecclesiastical robes splashes special water on you. Salvation is a change of heart and mind that comes only when we admit to intimacy with God. We were created to have intimacy with God. Since we, as a species screwed that up, we’ve been out of sync with Him by our own choice. Since we were created with free will, the choice is ours whether we will allow Him to touch us and draw us near to Him once more. He will leave us with the dignity of our choices if we wish to choose wrongly.

My parents’ generation grew up with a national narrative that embraced manifest destiny – bringing Christianity and western civilization to the Indians and then onto the Pacific and Africa. These endeavors were seen as good and approved by God. I’m not going to argue that there were no genuine conversions through these efforts. I know there were because my great-great-grandparents left diaries that show them as people who were honestly in love with the Lord Jesus Christ and happy to assimilate (for the most part) into American society. THEY didn’t see it as being forced to give up something. THEY saw it as a net improvement with some complications. I base that evaluation on the 30 years of diaries both of them kept, detailing their ordinary lives.

The Postmodern narrative is that white man came and oppressed the brown man, took away his glorious culture and gave him this god that wasn’t his and doesn’t serve his needs. That comes down to our political discussions and educational system as America, the imperialist power and rapist of the world. “We”, they say, “enslave the world and use up all the resources while not doing anything worthwhile.”

Yes, I’m painting with that broad brush again, but there’s truth in what I’m saying. I’m told, as an American Indian, that I’m a victim of white imperialism and I’m owed something – a whole lot of something – for the loss of that superior culture at the hands of the useless white race that has contributed nothing worthwhile to history.

I call “BUNK!” Neither narrative is completely true. America was not true to our ideals when our forebears steamrolled the Indians in their march westward. Our societal ancestors were not true to our ideals when they enslaved the blacks or when they treated free blacks as second-class citizens, when we interred the Japanese-Americans or fought in Vietnam. We were true to our ideals, as much as possible in war, when we fought to end Hitler’s concentration camps or when we brought the gospel to Pacific Islanders … and American Indians. The excessive use of our power in some instances did not negate the rightful advancement of principles where they occurred.

History is often written by the winners, but the history my children are learning in public school was written by folks who want to believe that if you’re brown, you’re a victim and if you’re white, you’re an oppressor. That narrative leaves us with no option for compromise and no options for societal healing until a generation is born in America that is more brown than white and then — well, who becomes the oppressor then?

I was raised by a mixed-race couple. I loved both of my parents and I’m proud of both of their cultures. I don’t see my dad as an oppressor and my mom as a victim, probably because my mom never saw herself as a victim of racism. It wasn’t that she never experienced it. It was that she didn’t pass it on to us kids … maybe because her mom didn’t pass it on to her kids and her mom’s mom didn’t pass it to her. The first convert to Christianity in our Indian family (Joseph) eventually led his father to Jesus and heard his father’s confession – of scalping white settlers, raping the women, carrying the children off into slavery. Barazai was clear to Joseph that these were acts of deep and shameful sin in his own eyes. Who were the victims in those attacks? White men were the ones dying, white women were the ones raped and white children were the ones enslaved. That doesn’t mean that in other places and times it wasn’t white men killing, raping, or enslaving Indians. Neither side of my DNA is pure as the fresh-driven snow.

Is it possible that both sides were wrong?

For me it is! It’s the only intellectually honest stance to take, really – for me – because the other way, I have to hate some portion of my DNA and that sounds too schizophrenic for me. If my ancestors were all humans and prone to the human condition, then I’m free to admire that which is admirable and regret that which is regrettable.

I’m told this might make me a post-postmodernist. I think that makes me sane and a potential reconciler.

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