The answer to combatting socialism and communism, the demonic force behind the transition taking place in America today, is the TRUTH.
We all know that there is an evil force blanketing our country. Elections are stolen, terrorists are given billions, soldiers are offered up like sheep to our enemies, pro-growth and stable economic policies are lost and lies are everywhere. Just this week the top individual overseeing our country’s justice system threatened good Americans for speaking their mind.
Our freedoms are being taken away and our children are being taught to hate Caucasians with racist teachings. Free speech is taken away by Big Tech Oligarchs and Big Media pushes all these lies.
What is the answer? What do we do?
Great and courageous leaders in the past have told us what to do in situations like this.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian political prisoner, and dissident shared:
And therein we find, neglected by us, the simplest, the most accessible key to our liberation: a personal non-participation in lies! Even if all is covered by lies, even if all is under their rule, let us resist in the smallest way: Let their rule hold not through me!
Vaclav Havel, the Czech statesman, and dissident turned President of Czechoslovakia, shared this:
If the main pillar of the totaliarian system is living a lie, then it is not surprising that the fundimental threat to it is living the truth. This is why [the truth] must be suppressed more severely [by the communists] than anything else.
The Truth is the answer. Individually and together we must stand for the truth.
Christopher Croom | Columbia International University
Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John18:38)
This famous portion of Scripture that has been rendered as a standalone verse is directly related to the crucifixion scene of Jesus Christ. In this scene, Jesus stands before Pilate, questioned regarding charges leveled at Him by the Jews. In analyzing this verse, we do not want to overstep the boundaries provided to us by the context. Nevertheless, in examining this verse, we cannot help but acknowledge this deeply profound epistemological question. What istruth?
First, we should observe the possible attitude with which Pilate proposes this question. Is Pilate saying this in a mocking tone? Or does Pilate opine with genuine curiosity? John Calvin suggests that Pilate laid out this question in disdain. In his commentary on this passage, Calvin says, “For my own part, I rather think that it is an expression of disdain; for Pilate thought himself highly insulted when Christ represented him as destitute of all knowledge of the truth.”1D.A. Carson notes something specific in his view of this passage. Carson offers this beautiful observation. “Moreover, there is an implicit invitation in Jesus’ words. The man in the dock invites his judge to be his follower, to align himself with those who are ‘of the truth’.”2 Carson also goes on to suggest that Pilate may be irritated with Jesus and categorizes the question as “curt and cynical.”3
Gerald Borchert stands in opposition, suggesting that perhaps this question did affect Pilate. While Pilate may have resisted the more profound implications for his life, it certainly left him with no condemnation against Christ.4 I tend to agree with Borchert’s position in that the surrounding evidence of the passage does not lend itself to frustration or irritation on Pilate’s part. Moreover, Pilate seems to meet this situation with a certain level of wisdom and prudence. When asking the Jewish leaders for the charges against Christ, he appears less than impressed and may even see himself being used as a pawn in their scheme to rid themselves of the Messiah. Finally, we see Pilate approach the mob and try to provide a way to back out of this act against a seemingly innocent man. I wholeheartedly believe Pilate’s question of “what is truth?” was a genuine question worthy of consideration.
Addressing the Question
Having now addressed the biblical aspect of this, we must face the question itself and its implications in our world. However, I do not want to address this from a predominantly “spiritual” perspective (or what Christians might perceive as spirituality), but rather, a practical aspect. After all, I am a Ph.D. student of practical theology (with a slight lean focusing on ethics and morality). So, I will do what I think I do best—talk about this question’s practical and ethical aspects.
The Greek word behind “truth” is ἀλήθεια (aletheia). The word itself carries an intensely distinct semantic range. English speakers may translate this word as “in truth,” or “upon truth,” or “sincerely,” or “genuine,” or “firmness,” among other similar options. Considering the 109 uses of this word in the New Testament, it is translated as we see it here, “truth,” 95.4% of the time (or 104 times). Jesus states just before this verse that He came to testify to the truth. Pilate responds with what this author believes is a genuinely inquisitive query. So, what is Pilate asking, and how can we use this in our lives?
Pilate is asking a question that many people ask today. “How can we know what is true?” Before we address the question, we should determine its significance. When we speak about truth, or as I will often refer to it as “intellectual virtue,”5 In the most practical and simple terms I can provide, what we are discussing is an agreement to the definition of words and concepts and the reality built upon those definitions. In other words, there must be some fundamentally agreed-upon terminology that allows us to understand and decipher the world around us. For now, we will (mostly) lay aside questions of authority for defining those terms and reality and frankly focus on its existence.
If I took some exegetical liberty with the text, as those before me have, I would like to suggest that Pilate is not so far off in his mindset from the subjectivists of our modern-day America. In other words, Pilate did not have an objective standard for truth, and so, this question persuaded his mind to argue with this philosophical difficulty in a way that those on the Areopagus of Acts 17 might have done. So much was Pilate interested in this; he tried to exonerate Christ after a brief consideration of Christ’s statement.
What does this mean for the Christian Scholar or Pastor? Well, in today’s world, the Christian Scholar or Pastor finds themselves in one of three positions. The first position: Understanding and struggling to live with biblical clarity in a rapidly changing world with changing definitions and conceptual truths. The second position: Believing they understand and struggle to live with biblical clarity in a rapidly changing world with changing definitions and conceptual truths, but sinking further into the world’s subjectivity. The third and final position is being oblivious to the difference between the two and sinking further into the world’s subjectivity.
A Brief Practice to Address Error
Because this is not designed to be a book or even a full paper outlining all the issues and potential solutions, this is where we shall consider, briefly, a remedy. Having been made aware of the issue that faces us, we should now consider a solution.
Scholars and Pastors: Addressing the world with presuppositional truth is not practical in today’s world. I understand how unpopular this will be as a position. Nevertheless, telling a subjectively oriented world of a coming Christ is, while accurate, ineffective—at least, in and of itself. Starting with that will lead to nowhere. However, leading to that point, starting with a classical exposition of the general revelation could yield a more profitable engagement. When Pilate asks, “what is truth?” he questions something already answered in the world around Him that leads back to the Creator of all things.
The General Revelation helps the created creature agree upon the definition of what exists inside of it. For instance, what does the creation (not explicitly Scripture) tell us about the nature of man and woman? The reason this approach is critical is that, as Jay Wood points out, “there are what are called “basic” or “immediate” beliefs; these form the bedrock of all that we believe, undergirding everything else we are justified in believing.”6 In agreeing upon what exists in the General Revelation, we create what Nicholas Wolterstorff refers to as a control belief.7 That control belief identifies the boundaries in which we can continue to move in our question to build a perimeter around valid words and concepts.
This reason alone is why the Christian Church and the Christian (Scholar, Clergy, or Laypersons) have lost their foothold in the battle for words and concepts. In stepping away from the pursuit of truth, exchanging it for some undefined or unspecific spirituality, the Church began to, like the world, pursue subjectivity in religion, seeking a feeling of connection to God rather than a knowledge of the truth—or even worse, conflating the two, instead of an emotional connection to God being the result of proper knowledge of Him (Jer 9:23-24). This order is the natural order of true faith and spirituality, rooted in truth and reason.
What Pilate expresses is no different from what the Church expresses; each time, we neglect the pursuit of fundamental knowledge about God or portend to others that a relationship to Christ is the fullness of true religion (to the neglect of reason, doctrine, and similar concepts). We especially, as the Doctors and Pastors of the Church, must avoid both logical fallacies and cognitive biases in his assessment of the truth. As those who have General Revelation on our side, we should strive to define truth by the created world, ultimately pointing to Special Revelation.
The world is currently busy changing the definition to well-established truths, such as gender, family, sex, and all the like. The result is that concepts are being redefined through that change. Now, love, good, evil, culture, and ethics are all being manipulated in an unprecedented way. The truth that Jesus proposes to Pilate is not just a truth that leads to salvation. It is a truth that leads to seeing the world as it was truly meant to be seen.
Pastors, Doctors, Scholars: I call you to a serious pursuit of the truth. A pursuit that starts by understanding how the General (or Natural) Revelation provides a piece of evidence to all men. Whether through the existence of a Creator or the law written on man’s heart and the active consciousness of knowing a right from a wrong, in earnest, that comes with it, Christians must answer the call to challenge the world cognitively. We must satisfy the curious nature of man’s mind and heart and respond to the question that Pilate once asked, and so many have asked after him, “what is truth?” because we are the only ones with meaningful access to the answer.
If we, the learned and shepherds of the Church, do not understand this, how can we teach those under our care and doctrine? And if those under our care and doctrine do not learn, how can they reach the world?
How much better it is to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver. (Proverbs16:16)
Christopher Croom holds a Masters’s Degree in Bible Exposition, from Liberty University and is a Ph.D. student of Moral Theology at Columbia International University. He also is the founder and Managing Member of CROSS & Culture, LLC (http://crossandculture.org), a relaunching platform committed to expanding Biblical Scholarship and Discipleship within the Church.
Are you in the new normal the world is talking about or in the new normal since you were born again?
The world keeps moving to newer enhancements with technology. Body upgrades that are attempting to do better than what God already did. We are slowly entering into a bionic world. Where humans and artificial intelligence is merging.
Prosthetic limbs, brain-machine interfaces, bionic organs, are all in the works. Some have already begun identifying themselves as cyborgs. Tens of Thousands of employees have chip implants, ushering in a new way of life. Sadly, enslaving themselves in a way never to return to God.
What is the believers new normal?
For believers the new normal is heaven on earth, a new walk that begins on earth and leads into eternal life. While innovations are useful, nothing is new under the sun.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
The word of God will always remain a decisive truth for mankind to escape from the machinations of greedy men unwilling to submit to God.
We are in a time of great uncertainty. But, we have a God whose every word is certain and everlasting. When we gave our lives to Jesus, we stepped into the glory in which Adam and Eve enjoyed before sin. Let’s stick to the truth found in Jesus alone. The truth that sets us free from wickedness and evil religious people.
The truth that will help us enter into a normal which is possible only by the true creator, God Himself. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but His word will never fail. His very Word keeps us joyful and hopeful no matter what happens on earth. For believers, to live is Christ and to die gain.
What makes you happy? What makes you laugh out with great joy, from the depths of your heart? Have you ever checked the reasons for your laughter? Or, have you just strung along life and gone with the flow?
So many believers, born into “christian” families, have never bothered to examine their lives. Which is why many are found struggling with mental and emotional issues. How to examine? Looking at Jesus who walked the earth as the only example to emulate. Studying the word of God to seek God in prayer for the things inspired by the Holy Spirit.
If laughter is the best medicine, what is causing that laughter is critical. Movies and Internet media have contaminated the minds and hearts of people with their “roasts” and “stand-ups”. Do these bring you joy? True christians do not seek after false joy; they know where to find real joy.
There is so much joy when a team wins in sports or games. This joy too is carnal and earthly. These systems were created to fill us with duplicate joy and steal our time away from God. We also know most of these games are fixed to make money.
Love rejoices in the truth
“rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;” (1 Corinthians 13:6)
The wicked love lies and sin. The righteous love the truth. Those who enjoy truth, also are sanctified by the power in the truth of the word of God.
How can we rejoice and enjoy the presence of God? When we humble ourselves in prayer and fellowship. When we keep God before us, He gives our body rest too; not just our spirit and soul. The true way of this life is found in the presence of God. God reveals it to us.
“I have set the LORD always before me: Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: My flesh also shall rest in hope. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:8-9, 11)
A new day is a day of rejoicing because this is the day He has made (Psalms 118:24). The truth about the new day is, it’s a gift. A gift to come closer to Him, be fruitful.
Be filled with the joy of the Lord, and in the power of His might. When God fills us with the Holy Spirit, our rejoicing is powered by love, God’s love.
Prepare yourself for the day of greatest joy for all those who seek His coming. The rapture is near, the groom is all set to pick the bride the Holy Spirit prepares. Maranatha, Praise God and Amen.
Clarity and accuracy in communicating divine truth is more important for Christian communicators than anyone else. The availability of mass communications further enhances the preacher’s job in this day and time because of the vast audiences he can reach, which were not nearly as large in earlier days. Mass media opportunities can be abused, however, as they have been in so many cases. Television, for example, helped to usher out the “age of exposition” and usher in the age of “sound bites” when image became more important than substance in the message being communicated. As an entertainment medium, television has lowered appetites for serious thought as it has raised expectations for trivia and brevity. That is especially true of sermons in the mass media. Christian publishing has gone in the same direction in catering to people’s “felt needs” and giving them something they want rather than the doctrinal truths of the Bible. That is the very thing that Paul warned Timothy against and that Jeremiah refrained from doing. As Christ’s ambassadors, Christian communicators must make the message, not the medium, the heart of what they give their listeners, viewers, and readers.
Importance of Clear Communication
No preacher likes the feeling of being tongue-tied—especially when it happens in the pulpit. Those awkward moments when his brain gets stuck in neutral and his mouth continues to rev are the nightmare of every preacher. It can be especially dangerous when everything he says is taped.
A few years ago some of our radio-broadcast workers assembled a taped collection of all my verbal fumbles over the years. They collected about fifteen-years worth of out-takes and strung them together to make an entire sermon of nonsense. It was painful to listen to.
So I have nothing but extreme pity for the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, who suffered from a disability that no preacher deserves. Spooner was a brilliant man who was dean of New College, Oxford, at the turn of the twentieth century. Today he is chiefly remembered because he elevated slips of the tongue to an art form. He was particularly prone to one variety of verbal blunder that has been given his name—the spoonerism. A spoonerism transposes the syllables or sounds of two or more words, as in “Let me sew you to your sheet.”
Spooner’s backward eloquence was unsurpassed. Reprimanding a wayward student, he uttered these immortal words: “You have hissed all my mystery lectures; I saw you fight a liar on the college grounds; in fact, you have tasted the whole worm!” It is easy to see how this tendency could adversely affect a preaching ministry. Spooner’s tendency to transpose sounds occasionally caused him to say the very opposite of what he intended. Once when he was performing a wedding, Reverend Spooner told the bridegroom, “It is kisstomary to cuss the bride.” On another occasion Spooner was preaching on Psalm 23, and he assured his congregation that “our Lord is a shoving leopard.” When you realize that Spooner’s ministry was primarily among students, you have to give him high marks for fortitude.
No communicator wants to mangle the message. But for Christian communicators the need to get the message right is elevated to the height of a sacred duty. Perhaps one can smile and pardon an affliction like William Spooner’s, but he certainly cannot tolerate any distortion of divine truth that results from traits such as sloppy thinking, laziness, carelessness, apathy, or indifference. More sinister yet is the tendency to sidestep elements of truth or water down the message because of a desire to please people, a love of worldly praise, or a lack of holy courage.
New Media Opportunities
If anything, the obligation to communicate the truth of the gospel clearly and accurately weighs more heavily on our generation than on those who have gone before us, because our opportunities are so much greater. Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much shall much be required.”
No previous generation has been blessed with the means of mass communication like ours. A hundred years ago, “Christian communication” consisted almost totally of preaching sermons and writing books. The only form of mass communication was the press. It never occurred to men like Charles Spurgeon that the means would exist to transmit live sounds and images via satellite to every nation in the world. Spurgeon was the most listened-to preacher in history by the end of the nineteenth century. He preached to huge crowds in his church. By some estimates, four million people actually heard him preach over a remarkable lifetime of ministry.
But today, via radio, Chuck Swindoll preaches to more people than that in a typical week. J. Vernon McGee (“he being dead yet speaketh”) has been broadcasting every weekday worldwide for decades. If you count the sermons that are translated and preached in other languages, McGee has undoubtedly preached to more people than any other person in history—and he continues to do so from the grave.
The staff who produce our recordings and radio broadcasts like to remind me that the sun never sets on our ministry. At any given moment of the day or night, worldwide and around the clock, someone, somewhere is listening to a sermon I preached from our church pulpit. I cannot tell you how heavily that responsibility continually weighs on me. I am constantly aware of the obligation to get the message right, to speak it clearly, and to proclaim it with authority and conviction.
New vistas in communications are constantly opening up. Future generations will be able to download from a central databank video images and sounds of today’s preachers. If tomorrow’s Bible students want to know what James Boice said about Romans 7, they will not have to get his commentary and look it up. If they prefer, they will plug into the digital communications superhighway and hear or view the original sermon as he preached it from the pulpit.
Satellite technology, digital sound, high-resolution, wide-screen television are already available. Other high-tech advances suggest that a hundred years from now, communications will have advanced at least as far beyond today’s technology as our world has come since Spurgeon’s time. If the Lord delays His return, our great-great grandchildren may have access to forms of communication that we cannot even imagine today.
This is a very exciting age in which to live and minister. But remember Luke 12:48: “From everyone who has been given much shall much be required.” We are stewards who will be held accountable for the opportunities with which the Lord has blessed us. And if we are honest, I think we would have to confess that the church for the most part has simply squandered the rich opportunities modern communication technology has given. Our generation, with greater means than ever to reach the world with the gospel, is actually losing ground spiritually. The church’s influence is actually diminishing. Our message is becoming confused—and it is confusing. We are not speaking the truth plainly for the world to hear the message.
Part of the problem is that the church has failed to see the pitfalls inherent in modern communications. The new technology has brought much more than new opportunities; it has also brought a whole new set of challenges for those whose goal is to proclaim and teach the truth of God. Most of the new media are better suited to entertainment.
Neil Postman wrote an important book some years ago, titled, Amusing Ourselves to Death.(1) Every Christian communicator should be familiar with this book. Postman is not a Christian. He teaches communications at New York University. He writes from the perspective of a secular academician. His book is an analysis of how modern communications technology—and television in particular—has dramatically altered our culture.
Postman points out that prior to television, society relied on printed media for most of its information. People had to be literate—not merely able to read and write, but able to think logically, able to digest information meaningfully, able to engage their minds in all kinds of rational processes. The content of any form of communication took priority over the form. Communicators were chiefly concerned with substance, not style. The message had to have cognitive content.
Postman refers to the age prior to the twentieth century as “the age of exposition.” Human discourse in the age of exposition was significantly different. The Lincoln-Douglas debates, for example, took place in rural communities, in the open air, often in sweltering heat, without the benefit of public address systems. Yet thousands of people stood and listened for hours, carefully following the logic of the debaters, listening intently to profound dialogue, hanging on every word of two eloquent speakers.
By contrast, today’s politicians compete for “sound bites.” Image is more important than substance. America now selects presidential candidates the way Hollywood auditions actors. In fact, prior to Bill Clinton, the only president in forty years to complete two terms was an actor (Ronald Reagan).
A major shift took place, according to Postman, “Toward the end of the nineteenth century. . . . The Age of Exposition began to pass, and the early signs of its replacement could be discerned. Its replacement was to be the Age of Show Business.”
Television has done more than anything else to define the age of show business. We tend to think of television as a significant tool in the advancement of knowledge. Through the eye of the television camera, we can witness events on the other side of the globe—or even on the moon—as they are unfolding. We see and hear things our ancestors could never have imagined. Surely we should be the best-informed and most knowledgeable generation in history.
But the effect of television has been precisely the opposite. Television has not made us more literate than our ancestors. Instead, it has flooded our minds with irrelevant and meaningless information. We are experts in the trivia of pop culture, but are ignorant about serious matters. The publicity surrounding the O. J. Simpson murder trial in 1995 illustrates this. During Simpson’s preliminary hearing, a severe crisis over nuclear weapons was unfolding in Korea. The government of Haiti was overthrown by a coup and an entire nation thrown into chaos. Yassir Arafat returned to the Gaza strip legally for the first time in decades, marking one of the most significant modern political developments in the Middle East. The prime minister of Nepal resigned. All those things of earth-shaking importance were happening in the world, yet in spite of their significance, our local television newscasts devoted 93 percent of their coverage to the Simpson hearing.
Television is an entertainment medium. Too much television has fed people’s appetite for entertainment and lowered their tolerance for serious thought. Now even the print media are following television’s lead, and formatting their content so that it is more entertaining than informative. In England, the tabloids have all but driven serious newspapers out of business. USA Today was founded to achieve a similar purpose. It was consciously designed and formatted to reach the TV generation. The stories are purposely short. Only the main front-page articles are carried over to another page. It is an entire newspaper of sound-bite information, formatted for a generation whose minds have been shaped by television. And commercially it has been a tremendous success.
Book publishing is following suit. Look at a recent New York Times bestseller list. Seven of the top books were cartoon collections—“Garfield,” “The Far Side,” and similar fare. The top nonfiction books included some photographic essays and works by Dave Barry, Rush Limbaugh, and Howard Stern. Only three of the top books on the nonfiction list had any substantial non-humorous content. What does this say about our society?
Television has not only lowered tolerance for serious thought; it has also dulled minds to reality. As the O. J. Simpson drama was unfolding, one network followed the sensational freeway chase scene by helicopter but kept a small window at the bottom of the screen where the NBA playoffs were being shown. The two scenes were utterly incongruous.
But even apart from the O. J. Simpson story, network news is surreal. The evening news is a performance, where suave anchormen coolly read brief reports about war, murder, crime, and natural disaster. Commercials that trivialize the stories and isolate them from any context punctuate these stories. Neil Postman recounts a news broadcast in which a Marine Corps general declared that global nuclear war is inevitable. The next segment was a commercial for Burger King.
We are not expected to respond rationally. In Postman’s words, “The viewers will not be caught contaminating their responses with a sense of reality, any more than an audience at a play would go scurrying to call home because a character on stage has said that a murderer is loose in the neighborhood.”(2)
Television cannot demand a sensible response. People tune in to be entertained, not to be challenged to think. If a program requires contemplation or demands too much use of the intellect, no one watches.
Television has also lowered attention spans. After fifteen minutes, we get a break for commercials. One of the cable networks even has a program called “Short-Attention-Span Theater.” On every network, programs require a minimum intellectual involvement. Most television dramas are designed for an intellectual capacity of the average seven-year-old. The point is not to challenge viewers, but to amuse them. Neil Postman says we are amusing ourselves to death. He suggests that our fascination with television has sapped our culture’s intellectual and spiritual stamina.
In fact, his most trenchant message is in a chapter on modern religion. Postman is Jewish, but he writes with piercing insight about the decline of preaching in the Christian church. He contrasts the ministries of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield with the preaching of today. Those men relied on depth of content, profundity, logic, and knowledge of the Scriptures. Preaching today is superficial by comparison, with the emphasis on style and emotion. “Good” preaching by the modern definition must above all be brief and amusing. Much that passes for preaching these days is merely entertainment—devoid of any exhortation, reproof, rebuke, or instruction (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16, 4:2).
The epitome of modern preaching is the slick evangelist who overstates every emotion, carries a microphone as he struts around the platform, and gets the audience clapping, stomping, and shouting while he incites them into a frenzy. The message has no meat, but who cares as long as the response is enthusiastic?
It is not only a few televangelists who fall into this category. Some of our most conservative, evangelical churches have allowed entertainment to replace the clear preaching of truth. Where preaching can be found, it is often devoid of doctrine, filled with clever anecdotes and sound-bite witticisms. Biblical preaching with real content is in a serious state of decline.
Christian publishing has dutifully followed the trends. A certain publishing company has been in business for nearly a hundred years, publishing very solid Christian literature. But not too long ago they completely shut down their textbook division and announced that their new focus would be on publishing books that could easily cross over into the secular market. They were looking for self-help books, humor books, and other lightweight material with a minimum of biblical references.
That is precisely the wrong direction to go. We who have access to the divinely inspired truth of God’s Word should be confronting the apathy and foolishness of a society that is addicted to entertainment and ignorant of truth. We should be shouting truth from the rooftops, not adapting our message to the shallow and insipid amusements that have left our society morally and intellectually bankrupt.
Living in an age that has abandoned the quest for truth, the church cannot afford to be vacillating. We minister to people in desperate need of a word from the Lord, and we cannot soft-pedal our message or extenuate the gospel. If we make friends with the world, we set ourselves at enmity with God. If we trust worldly devices, we automatically relinquish the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am very concerned about the modern church’s fascination with marketing methodology. I wrote a book, Ashamed of the Gospel,(3) which analyzed and critiqued the modern church’s tendency to rely on Madison Avenue technique. Too many are trying to sell the gospel as a product rather than understanding that the gospel itself is the power of God to change people’s hearts and minds.
My challenge to pastors and to writers is the same. The task of every Christian communicator is the same. It is not only to entertain. It is not merely to amuse. It is not just to sell a product. It is certainly not to increase audience approval ratings. The task is to communicate God’s truth as clearly, as effectively, and as accurately as possible.
Often this is incompatible with marketing goals. Why? Have you ever noticed how many television commercials say nothing about the products they advertise? The typical jeans commercial shows a painful drama about the woes of adolescence, but does not mention jeans. A perfume ad is a collage of sensuous images with no reference to the product. Beer commercials contain some of the funniest material on television, but say very little about beer.
Those commercials are supposed to create a mood, to entertain, to appeal to emotions—not to give information. An obvious parallel exists between such commercials and some of the trends in Christian communications. Like the commercials, many Christian communicators, whether preachers or writers, aim to set a mood, to evoke an emotional response, to entertain—but not necessarily to ommunicate anything of substance.
Others, using the best techniques of modern marketing, purposely frame the message so that it appeals to people’s desire for happiness, prosperity, and self-gratification. The goal is to give people what they want. Advocates of a market-driven communications philosophy are quite candid about this. Consumer satisfaction is the stated goal of the new philosophy. One key resource on market-driven ministry says, “This is what marketing the [Christian message] is all about: providing our product . . . as a solution to people’s felt need.”
“Felt needs” thus determine the road map for the modern communicator’s marketing plan. The idea is a basic marketing principle: you satisfy an existing desire rather than trying to persuade people to buy something they do not want. Such trends are sheer accommodation to a society bred by television. They follow what is fashionable but reveal little concern for what is true. They cater to the very worst tendencies in modern society. They humor people whose first love is themselves. They offer people God without any disruption of their selfish lifestyles.
And if results are what you want, here is a sure way to get them. Promise people a religion that will allow them to be comfortable in their materialism and self-love, and they will respond in droves. But that is not effective Christian communication. In fact, it is precisely the kind of thing Paul warned Timothy to avoid.
Paul commanded Timothy, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). The apostle included this prophetic warning: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The King James Version translates the passage like this: “After their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth.”
Clearly Paul’s philosophy of ministry had no room for the give-people what-they-want theory of modern marketing. He did not urge Timothy to conduct a survey to find out what his people wanted. He did not suggest that he study demographic data or do research on the “felt needs” of his people. He commanded him to preach the Word—faithfully, reprovingly, patiently—and confront the spirit of the age head on.
Notice that Paul said nothing to Timothy about how people might respond. He did not lecture Timothy on how large his church was, how much money it took in, or how influential it was. He did not suggest that the world was supposed to revere, esteem, or even accept Timothy. In fact, Paul said nothing whatever about external success. Paul’s emphasis was on faithfulness, not success.
In stark contrast, modern marketing experts are telling Christian communicators to find out what people want, then do whatever is necessary to meet the most popular demands. The audience is “sovereign” in such matters. One best-selling book on Christian marketing actually states that the audience should determine how to frame a message:
It is . . . critical that we keep in mind a fundamental principle of Christian communication: the audience, not the message, is sovereign. If our advertising is going to stoppeople in the midst of hectic schedules and cause them to think about what we’re saying, our message has to be adapted to the needs of the audience. When we produce advertising that is based on the take-it-or-leave-it proposition, rather than on a sensitivity and response to people’s needs, people will invariably reject our message.(4)
What if the OT prophets had subscribed to such a philosophy? Jeremiah, for example, preached forty years without seeing any significant positive response. On the contrary, his countrymen threatened to kill him if he did not stop prophesying (Jeremiah 11:19-23); his own family and friends plotted against him (Jeremiah 12:6); he was not permitted to marry, and so had to suffer agonizing loneliness (Jeremiah 16:2); plots were devised to kill him secretly (Jeremiah 18:20-23); he was beaten and put in stocks (Jeremiah 20:1-2); he was spied on by friends who sought revenge (Jeremiah 20:10); he was consumed with sorrow and shame—even having the day he was born cursed (Jeremiah 20:14-18); and falsely accused of being a traitor to the nation (Jeremiah 37:13-14). Jeremiah was then beaten, thrown into a dungeon, and starved many days (Jeremiah 37:15-21). If an Ethiopian Gentile had not interceded on his behalf, Jeremiah would have died there. In the end, tradition says he was exiled to Egypt, where he was stoned to death by his own people. He had virtually no converts to show for a lifetime of ministry.
Suppose Jeremiah had attended a modern communications seminar and learned a market-driven philosophy of communications. Do you think he would have changed his style of confrontational ministry? Can you imagine him staging a variety show or using comedy to try to win people’s affections? He may have learned to gather an appreciative crowd, but he certainly would not have had the ministry to which God called him.
Contrast Jeremiah’s commitment with the advice of a modern marketing expert. An author who insists that the audience is sovereign suggests that the wise communicator ought to “shape his communications according to [people’s] needs in order to receive the response he [seeks].”(5) The effect of that philosophy is apparent; Christian communicators are becoming people-pleasers—precisely what Scripture forbids.
The whole strategy is backward. The audience is not sovereign, God is. And His truth is unchanging. His Word is forever settled in heaven. Though new forms of media may come and go, the message itself cannot be changed. To change the biblical message in any way is expressly forbidden. We cannot truncate it, water it down, sugar-coat it, or otherwise minimize the offense of the cross.
Someone will inevitably point out that Paul said he became all things to all men that he might by all means win some. But Paul was not proposing that the message be changed or softened. Paul refused either to amend or to abridge his message to make people happy. He wrote, “Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10, emphasis added). He was utterly unwilling to try to remove the offense from the gospel (Galatians 5:11). He did not use methodology that catered to the lusts of his listeners. He certainly did not follow the kind of pragmatic philosophy of modern, market-driven communicators.
What made Paul effective was not marketing savvy, but a stubborn devotion to the truth. He saw himself as Christ’s ambassador, not His press secretary. Truth was something to be declared, not negotiated. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). He willingly suffered for the truth’s sake (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). He did not back down in the face of opposition or rejection. He did not adjust the truth to make unbelievers happy. He did not make friends with the enemies of God.
Paul’s message was always non-negotiable. In the same chapter where he spoke of becoming all things to all men, Paul wrote, “I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). His ministry was in response to a divine mandate. God had called him and commissioned him. Paul preached the gospel exactly as he had received it directly from the Lord, and he always delivered that message “as of first importance” (1 Cor 15:3). He was not a salesman or marketer, but a divine emissary. He certainly was not “willing to shape his communications” to accommodate his listeners or produce a desirable response. The fact that he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:9), beaten, imprisoned, and finally killed for the truth’s sake ought to demonstrate that he did not adapt the message to make it pleasing to his hearers! And the personal suffering he bore because of his ministry did not indicate that something was wrong with his approach, but that everything had been right!
I believe we can be innovative and creative in how we present the gospel, but we have to be careful that our methods harmonize with the profound spiritual truth we are trying to convey. It is too easy to trivialize the sacred message. We must make the message, not the medium, the heart of what we want to convey to the audience.
As Christian writers and communicators, I challenge you to forget what is fashionable and concern yourself with what is true. Do not be quick to embrace the trends of modern marketing. Certainly we should use the new media. But rather than adapting our message to suit the medium, let’s use the medium to present the message as clearly, as accurately, and as fully as possible. If we are faithful in that, the soil God has prepared will bear fruit. His Word will not return void.
*The following, a previously unpublished address given by President MacArthur at a Christian Communicators’ Conference a number of years ago, has been edited for use in The Master’s Seminary Journal.
1 (New York: Penguin Books, 1986).
2 Cited in George Barna, Marketing the Church (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 1988) 145 (emphasis added).
3 (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1993).
4 Barna, Marketing the Church 145 (emphasis added).
Surge Summary: Efforts like the “1619 Project” want to tear down the United States through false history … so that they can then rebuild her in their own twisted image, contrary to the best of the nation’s founding ideals.
by Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.
If there are riots now in America, what will it be like 20 years from now if the New York Times gets its way?
The New York Times sponsored the 1619 Project, which postulates that America’s real beginnings as a nation are when the first slaves were brought over….to Jamestown in 1619.
Not 1776, when America declared independence from Great Britain.
Not 1620, when the Pilgrims first came over “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.”
Not 1787, when the founders wrote the Constitution, the longest-lasting constitution of any nation.
Many historians note that this is a distortion of our nation’s roots. Worse, it makes young people turn against this country. Despite our flawed history and their own personal sins, the founders created the framework by which evils like slavery could one day be uprooted. And it has been.This battle over history and what is to be taught in our schools (when they reopen) has reached the highest echelons of power these days.
CNN reported (5/3/2021): “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is asking schools to stop using the 1619 Project, a curriculum aimed at reframing US history around the date of August 1619, when the first slave ship arrived to what would become the US.”
McConnell and other Republican senators said, “Families did not ask for this divisive nonsense. Voters did not vote for it…Americans never decided our children should be taught that our country is inherently evil.”
In my humble opinion, Mitch is right to do this. If this curriculum continues to spread, all children will learn is a distorted view of our past.
In his classic book “1984,” George Orwell said, “Whoever controls the past controls the future.” And he added, “Whoever controls the present controls the past.”There is indeed a battle over the history of America. Much of the rioting in the streets of the last year has constituted a war on America as founded. Statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and many others have been torn down by the mobs. Even Abraham Lincoln has not escaped the wrath of rioters.
Although some historians support the 1619 Project, many historians vehemently disagree. The DailyWire even reported that a group of scholars demanded that the Pulitzer Board revoke the Pulitzer Prize awarded to NYT writer Nikole Hannah-Jones’ Pulitzer Prize for her introduction to the 1619 Project.
Bob Woodson, an African-American scholar who has worked for decades on behalf of urban renewal, organized a number of scholars to oppose the 1619 Project.
In an interview I did with Woodson for D. James Kennedy Ministries, he told our viewers, “We at the Woodson Center organized 23-plus scholars and activists to confront this 1619 Project. We call ourselves the 1776 Unites.” These scholars include some prominent Blacks, like Dr. Carol Swain, retired professor at Vanderbilt Law School.
Already the Woodson Center has seen some changes: “As a result of our essays that we wrote…Nikole Hannah-Jones, who was the author of the 1619 Project actually revised it…We forced them to back away from and change the reasons for the Revolutionary War.”Initially, the 1619 Project held that America’s War for Independence was held for the purpose of protecting slavery.
That is an astounding claim, in light of the Fairfax Resolves of 1774, whereby George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other Members of the Virginia House of Burgesses tried to abolish the slave trade into Virginia. King George III put the kibosh on their efforts. (This was before William Wilberforce’s successful crusade, motivated by his Christian faith, to abolish the slave trade and then slavery itself throughout the British Empire.)
Woodson remarks, “And so we have other changes that have been made; but essentially the whole 1919 Project is an attempt to undermine, I think, the values and virtues of our nation. And they’re using race as the bludgeon to do that.”
Woodson adds this about the 1619 Project: “They are trying to define America by its birth defect of slavery and Jim Crow, and our counter is that no individual or nation should be judged by the worst of what they used to be. America is a country of redemption. America is a country of second chances, and so we at 1776 Unites believe that America is defined by its promise. And the constitution is a mechanism for us to be self-correcting, and America is the only nation on the face of the earth that fought a civil war to end slavery.” [Emphasis added]
The above-mentioned Dr. Carol Swain argues that the 1619 Project sends a “very crippling message to our children” by conveying the idea that racism is in our national DNA. It basically says that no matter how you try, you will always be a victim of hopelessly racist America.She adds, “It seems that anything that’s connected to Western Civilization and the traditions of our Judeo-Christian heritage in America, that’s very unpopular these days.”
What is this all about? Dr. Richard Land, the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, observes, “If you want to remake America, you’ve got to tear down belief in the country we have now. You have to make the country we have now and the founding fathers and our institutions illegitimate—that’s what the 1619 Project is about.”
There is a battle over history, and it is a battle we must win if we are to continue as a free nation.
Our first parents were Adam and Eve we all share their DNA.
Perhaps my parents were naïve. They raised me to respect my teachers, the government, and other authorities, and to believe these entities acted in my best interests and certainly wouldn’t lie to me. I was warned about the duplicity of politicians and used-car salesmen, but they were mostly grouped in classes by themselves.
Now I know I was misled by these authorities on some very important things. For instance, in biology class I was taught as scientific fact a totally fanciful—and atheistically religious—story that “survival of the fittest” caused the evolution of life on Earth. Disseminating that lie was an abuse of youthful trust in authority.
The lying has gotten far worse. Back then, I never felt institutional coercion to join a perverse government-led movement that affirms as truth many things I and most other people can clearly see are false. For example, until recently it was basic common sense to recognize that male and female are the two biological sexes. Today, anyone daring to speak common sense is publicly pummeled with disparaging names (or worse) by members of a rapidly growing deviant movement. They use a hostile crowd to systematically isolate people from each other by making everyone afraid to be associated with the pummeled person lest it also happen to them—a method to strong-arm conformity in thinking and control the behavior of an entire group.
As many Christians ponder whether to acknowledge more than the two sexes Christ created, they need to consider more than the “science” that floods schools and the media. The real issue is whether Christians, pastors, and seminary presidents will reject clear biblical teaching just to avoid the nasty social outrage against their ministries or themselves if they dare speak a truth the world finds offensive—that male and female are the only two human sexes.
Christians have faced the decision of whether to cast aside clear biblical teaching and embrace the world’s so-called science for a far longer period when it comes to Darwinian selection and evolution. Lies spread by government-sponsored institutions can be so absurd that they require years of forced, repetitive indoctrination for people to believe them. One government lie sits atop them all: that over a time frame far too slow for anyone to observe—and without the mind and power of God—life spontaneously started and nature exercised a type of selective agency to mold that “proto-life” into the diversity of creatures on Earth. We may not know how many people silently question this lie because dissenting views are quashed through government-tolerated academic oppression.
For illustration we’ll consider the above-mentioned lie that humans can be classified into a sex other than male and female. Perhaps it will serve as a contemporary wake-up call for Christians to refuse to live by the world’s lies.
Biological Sex and the Institutional Lie
In George Orwell’s classic novel 1984, the Ministry of Truth produced lying propaganda and the Ministry of Love dispensed torture. In Orwell’s farsighted story, reality was totally inverted through the government’s highly coordinated actions to manipulate its citizens’ thinking. What’s remarkable in the book is that almost all citizens eventually became willing promoters of government lies themselves.
An NBC News report demonstrates the combined power of government, academia, and the media to bring about a 1984-like adoption of total nonsense. In this case, even highly educated leaders of independent corporations participate. NBC stated that “[the brand] Always announced it will remove the Venus symbol from its menstruation products packaging” in response to protests by “transgender and nonbinary people” who were born female but now believe they’re male.1
Procter & Gamble, Always’ parent company, has come to regret placing the female symbol on their packages. In response to the outrage of these “men,” Always now recognizes that the packages were offensive “by not acknowledging that they [men], too, can experience menstruation,” and they dismiss the criticisms of people upset over the symbol’s removal as being “rooted in the misconception that [male] transgender and nonbinary people cannot experience menstruation—a claim medical experts have debunked.”1
How do you get people to assent to completely bizarre flights of fancy? By repeating them incessantly. Several months after their story on Always, NBC added a personal account and reported, “When transgender model and activist Kenny Ethan Jones experienced his first period, he faced both physical and psychological pain.”2 Kenny Jones was born female but is now considered by many (including “medical experts”) to be male. Perhaps to make it easier for readers to jettison their common sense, NBC adds Jones’ personal testimony:
“Having a period already causes me a lot of [gender] dysphoria, but this dysphoria becomes heightened when I have to shop for a product that is labeled as ‘women’s health’ and in most cases, is pretty and pink,” Jones explained.2
How powerful are the combined forces of government, academia, and the media targeted against individual citizens? Pretty powerful, it seems. After presenting stories like that of Kenny Jones, it’s as if those in power sit back and watch to see if ordinary people will compliantly speak about “his first period” without a tinge of humiliation over the mental confusion or muddled judgment needed to state something so nonsensical. A power that conditions a mass of people to embrace such ridiculous notions should grab the attention of Christians.
We are witnessing authorities use the stamp of scientific authority as a propaganda tool to dishonestly assert that something everyone knows is true—that men cannot have monthly cycles—has been debunked. Most people likely resent being coerced into accepting something that has never been observed and is utterly foolish.
What many Americans don’t recognize is that the train long ago left the station and took our country along the line to nonsensical beliefs. That happened when they swallowed the lie that over a long period of time one kind of creature can morph into another—something else that has never been observed. What’s worse is that these lies about both evolving creatures and interchangeable sexes are not just ludicrous, they’re intellectually and morally perverse.
Government Perverting Its God-Ordained Role
God denounces the government-sanctioned corruption of truth: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). Moral perversion goes hand in hand with governments acting in perverted ways.
Two passages in the New Testament detail the God-ordained role of government. Those in authority today should rule by these mandates: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil….For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:3-4); and government leaders “are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good” (1 Peter 2:14).
The Bible’s teaching is plain. Government is responsible to promote good and punish evil, but today’s rulers often oppress—if not outright persecute—people doing good and exult in the evil behavior they promote, which they mischaracterize as good. The destruction of the moral fiber of its citizens through lying and coercive tactics is a perversion of government’s mandate and authority.
Lessons Learned from the Soviet Union
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1974Image credit: Bert Verhoeff
Citizens of the United States now face increased institutional deception. People in other lands have endured habitual governmental lying, and their experiences may prove useful to Christians who refuse to live by the world’s lies.
Last year someone forwarded the link to a very helpful essay titled “Live Not by Lies” written in 1974 by the late Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn’s essay isn’t long, and I’d recommend that everyone read it since the actions he encourages other Soviets to adopt are valuable for Americans today. He sets the stage of the sad state of isolation and fear oppressing the Soviet people.
There was a time when we dared not rustle a whisper….[We] heartily complain to each other of all they [the government] are muddling up, of all they are dragging us into!…They put whomever they want on trial, and brand the healthy as mentally ill….Already a universal spiritual demise is upon us…while we continue to smile sheepishly….We have so hopelessly ceded our humanity that for the modest handouts of today we are ready to surrender up all principles, our soul, all the labors of our ancestors, all the prospects of our descendants—anything to avoid disrupting our meager existence…..[We] fear only to take a civic stance! We hope only not to stray from the herd, not to set out on our own.3
Solzhenitsyn then explains why government-sanctioned violence alone can never enslave an entire population. Real enslaving power is wielded through institutional lying.
But it [breaking the oppressive cycle] will never come…if we all, every day, continue to acknowledge, glorify, and strengthen it, if we do not, at the least, recoil from its most vulnerable point. From lies….Violence ages swiftly….To prop itself up, to appear decent, it will without fail call forth its ally—Lies. For violence has nothing to cover itself with but lies, and lies can only persist through violence. And it is not every day and not on every shoulder that violence brings down its heavy hand: It demands of us only a submission to lies, a daily participation in deceit—and this suffices as our fealty.3
Thus, the road to freedom is to refuse to live by lies. “And therein we find, neglected by us, the simplest, the most accessible key to our liberation: a personal nonparticipation in lies!…For when people renounce lies, lies simply cease to exist. Like parasites, they can only survive when attached to a person.” The first of eight vital behaviors Solzhenitsyn says are necessary to shake off enslavement begins with each citizen declaring they “will not write, sign, nor publish in any way, a single line distorting, so far as he can see, the truth.”3
Creationists have historically demonstrated the courage to resist institutional lying. Maybe that’s why the world uses the name “creationist” as a title of derision. Nevertheless, we must remember “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). If we don’t want to unknowingly advance any of the world’s lies, shouldn’t we examine ourselves to see whether our own minds have been “evolutionized” to some degree?
Recognizing How Lies Are Built into Terminology
Evolutionists invent terms all the time that simultaneously express evolutionary concepts and are used as more evidence for evolution. For instance, the literature is full of terms like convergent evolution, vestigial organs, pseudogenes, and highly conserved sequences. These terms have a built-in presupposition of evolution that makes them inherently misleading. Thus, just by speaking the jargon, a person is assisting the deceitful evolutionary indoctrination of society. The same type of built-in lying occurs when we talk about people as being transgender—as if that’s a real state of being—just because the world imagines more than two human sexes.
Evolutionary theory is full of imaginary, misleading scenarios. The most egregious is when nature is personified, presented as exercising agency, and then invoked as a substitute god to explain the origin and diversity of life. Selectionists project onto the environment abilities to “select,” “favor,” “act,” “send information,” and similar verbs indicating the work of an intelligent agent. The terminology they use therefore embeds a potent lie—that nature has some type of innate volition. The constant personification of nature as exercising creative agency transfers credit from the Lord Jesus as Creator to the creation itself…the principal lie described in Romans 1:25.
The denial of two biological sexes as illustrated by the Kenny Jones nonsense shows how serious the scope of these institutional lies and the coercion to conform is. The challenge facing Christians is whether we will cast aside clear biblical teaching and embrace the world’s so-called science. We belong to the Lord Jesus, who promised, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Christians need to be a sanctuary of truth; we must refuse to live by the world’s lies.
Solzhenitsyn, A. Live Not by Lies, February 12, 1974. Posted on solzhenitsyncenter.org.
* Dr. Guliuzza is President of the Institute for Creation Research. He earned his M.D. from the University of Minnesota, his Master of Public Health from Harvard University, and served in the U.S. Air Force as 28th Bomb Wing Flight Surgeon and Chief of Aerospace Medicine. Dr. Guliuzza is also a registered Professional Engineer and holds a B.A. in theology from Moody Bible Institute.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Wherever you’re at right now, the sun may be shining and life is good, making the reality of withstanding anything evil seem remote. Yet from the moment Eve plucked the fruit in the Garden, sin entered, and each day came under the sway of the evil one. It’s for this reason that Paul exhorts Christians to be geared up and battle ready.
Our adversary, Satan, will do his best to disarm you because he knows that a wobbly, defenseless Christian cannot stand. If we are to stand in opposition to his schemes, it’s essential that we make daily use of the most sophisticated armament available – the armor of God. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4)
It is incumbent upon each of us to be intimately acquainted with each piece of armor and keep it securely fastened. Puritan saint William Gurnall put it this way, “The armor… is to be worn night and day; we must walk, work, and sleep in them, or else we are not true soldiers of Christ.” With your armor firmly in place, you will be able to stand in obedience. Truth will triumph. You will not wobble or waver.
Today, if you are in the midst of personal trials, stand. In grief and sorrow, stand. In temptation, stand. In the chaos of our times, stand. Believer, in the evil day, stand!
In an interview to discuss his new book about the social justice movement, Voddie Baucham explains why critical race theory (CRT) spells “looming catastrophe” for evangelicalism. The pastor and author, who’s recovering from heart surgery, recently spoke to Dan Andros and Tré Goins-Phillips at CBN’s Faithwire about his just-released book Fault Lines. He describes it as “a plea for the church” to beware of “destructive heresies.”
The Bible is sufficient on its own, emphasizes Voddie Baucham, who says he worries about the backlash that will likely result from adherence to CRT and the liberation theology it promotes. He hopes his new book will help ignite much-needed conversations and encourage people to test their relationships to determine if they’re authentic or not.
Voddie Baucham on the Movement’s Religious Trappings
The social justice movement isn’t just a pseudo-religion, says Voddie Baucham, but rather its own religious movement. “This has all the trappings of religion,” he says, noting that even atheists have made that point. The movement, for example, has its own cosmology, its own saints, its own liturgy, and its own law. Some of those aspects are very subtle, Baucham notes, which makes them attractive to Christians who are rightly concerned about topics such as justice, racism, and equality. Our tendency, as a result, is to then assume that CRT must somehow be aligned with Christianity, which “it’s absolutely not,” he says.
Instead, CRT is a worldview with central tenets that fly in the face of the idea of the sufficiency of Scripture, says Baucham. You can’t pick and choose a few beliefs from it—and you don’t need to, because the Bible is “absolutely a textbook” on key issues such as relationships and the sin of partiality. Christians wouldn’t accept a pick-and-choose approach with any other ideology, Baucham notes, citing Hinduism as an example. “And CRT is at least as foreign to Christianity as Hinduism is,” he adds.
CRT’s Four Main Tenets
The four tenets that make up the worldview of CRT, says Baucham, are:
Racism as normative (it’s normal, it’s everywhere, and it’s unavoidable)
Interest convergence (white people are unable to take righteous action against racism unless it converges with their own individual interests)
The social construction of knowledge
CRT teaches that the only way to know the truth, Baucham says, is to elevate black, marginalized voices and listen to their stories. People and their feelings become arbiters of truth, and anyone who disagrees with those feelings is either a racist or has internalized racism.
Baucham, founder of Voddie Baucham Ministries, is currently dean of theology at African Christian University in Zambia. He grew up in South-Central Los Angeles with a single mom who was Buddhist and calls it “laughable” when critics say he has “internalized racism” or somehow “doesn’t understand blackness.” Baucham says he’s been called all kinds of names, including Uncle Tom, and the reason is because his critics lack an argument. “They’re not coming at me about factual errors,” he says. “They’re attacking my narrative.”
Why Talk of Privilege and Oppression Is Problematic
While discussing the foundations of CRT, Baucham points to terms such as “Christian hegemony,” or Christianity being “normative.” CRT proponents, he says, think in terms of the oppressor and the oppressed. “They’re saying Christianity is a form of imperialism and is oppressive,” he says, and that people need to put both their white privilege and their Christian privilege in check.
CRT advocates, such as Ibram X. Kendi, criticize white Savior theology, which maintains that people need to be saved from their sins, says Baucham. Instead, they tout Black liberation theology, which maintains that people need to be delivered from oppression. But the Bible indeed teaches that we need a Savior, Jesus, which makes CRT “hugely problematic,” says Baucham. The CRT worldview is even more dangerous because “you hear it all the time.” That’s one reason he includes many CRT-related quotes in his new book, he says, in order to show its prevalence throughout our culture.
Voddie Baucham Worries About a Backlash
Although Baucham is confident that the Christian church will survive this latest attack, he says he worries about a backlash from CRT’s growing influence. “I’m worried about a rise in white supremacy and actual racism because of the rise of CRT,” he says. “We have run away from the only solution to racism—the Gospel—in favor of a non-solution. ‘Savior theology’ is the answer.”
Some people say the pastor is being too dramatic by including the words “Looming Catastrophe” in his new book’s subtitle. But Baucham points to real damage and splits that have occurred due to CRT. Families, churches, schools, and denominations are being torn apart, he says, adding that “we’re talking past each other” when it comes to racism and CRT.
In addition, the church is being unfairly maligned and accused, which causes him pain. “People are basically pummeling the Bride of Christ,” the pastor says, “and talking about her like she’s the whore of Babylon.”
Christians must be willing to have tough conversations and press their relationships with one another, says Baucham. That can be costly, because some relationships might ultimately prove to be inauthentic. But “if you can’t offend me, then our relationship isn’t real,” he states. Christians also must view one another as brothers, not as oppressors.
The church will prevail, Baucham says, because the Lord loves his church. Christians, he advises, should “run” to the Bible and its teachings related to racism (including Ephesians 2 and Galatians 3 and 4). Scripture makes it clear that we’re adopted children of God, says Baucham, with no more divisions between us. “The Black-and-white divide is not one that God established,” he says. “It’s a false divide, and the Bible takes care of it.”
The goal of his new book, says Voddie Baucham , is to be “a clarion call” that unmasks CRT’s ideology and removes “the blinders” from its adherents’ eyes.
The notion that the church must become like the world to win the world has taken evangelicalism by storm. Virtually every modern worldly attraction has a “Christian” counterpart. We have Christian motorcycle gangs, Christian bodybuilding teams, Christian dance clubs, Christian amusement parks, and I even read about a Christian nudist colony.
Where did Christians ever get the idea we could win the world by imitating it? Is there a shred of biblical justification for that kind of thinking? Many church marketing specialists affirm that there is, and they have convinced a myriad of pastors. Ironically, they usually cite the apostle Paul as someone who advocated adapting the gospel to the tastes of the audience. One has written, “Paul provided what I feel is perhaps the single most insightful perspective on marketing communications, the principle we call contextualization (1 Corinthians 9:19–23). Paul . . . was willing to shape his communications according to their needs in order to receive the response he sought.” “The first marketeer was Paul,” another echoes.
After all, the apostle did write, “I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it” (1 Corinthians 9:22, 23). Is that a mandate for pragmatism in ministry? Was the apostle Paul suggesting that the gospel message can be made to appeal to people by accommodating their relish for certain amusements or by pampering their pet vices? How far do you suppose he would have been willing to go with the principle of “contextualization”?
The Great Non-Negotiable
This much is very clear: the apostle Paul was no people-pleaser. He wrote, “Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Paul did not amend or abridge his message to make people happy. He was utterly unwilling to try to remove the offense from the gospel (Galatians 5:11). He did not use methodology that catered to the lusts of his listeners. He certainly did not follow the pragmatic philosophy of modern market-driven ministers.
What made Paul effective was not marketing savvy, but a stubborn devotion to the truth. He was Christ’s ambassador, not His press secretary. Truth was something to be declared, not negotiated. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). He willingly suffered for the truth’s sake (2 Corinthians 11:23–28). He did not back down in the face of opposition or rejection. He did not compromise with unbelievers or make friends with the enemies of God.
Paul’s message was always non-negotiable. In the same chapter where he spoke of becoming all things to all men, Paul wrote, “I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). His ministry was in response to a divine mandate. God had called him and commissioned him. Paul preached the gospel exactly as he had received it directly from the Lord, and he always delivered that message “as of first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3). He was not a salesman or marketer, but a divine emissary. He certainly was not “willing to shape his communications” to accommodate his listeners or produce a desirable response. The fact that he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19), beaten, imprisoned, and finally killed for the truth’s sake ought to demonstrate that he didn’t adapt the message to make it pleasing to his hearers! And the personal suffering he bore because of his ministry did not indicate that something was wrong with his approach, but that everything had been right!
So what did Paul mean when he wrote, “I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel”? As always, the context makes his meaning clear. We’ll be taking a look at what Paul really meant over the course of the next several days. I hope you stick around.