In Part 1 of this series I presented my belief that the Church has for the most part abdicated its position of moral authority in the American culture. Nature abhors a vacuum and thus the hedonists, atheists, humanists, and unconverted self-identifying Christians rushed in to fill that place with their morality. The result is that any vain and evil thing that can be imagined is advocated as normal and celebrated as liberating and natural today. The only liberty and freedom these deviants and their supporters are experiencing is liberty and freedom from conscience. Doctors include this trait in their diagnosis of sociopaths. God describes them as “worthy of death” (Romans 1:32).
As with every anniversary of the deadly events of September 11, 2001, we will likely be inundated this week with a plethora of articles on the heroes from that day and those that gave their lives that others might live. Though we, as a nation, will never forget the events of that day and the impact it had on our nation, we need look no further than the disaster that struck recently in South Texas, and the events now unfolding throughout Florida and the Southeast to understand that it is a remarkable part of the American spirit to face adversity with a steadfast courage and open heart for those in need. Though I write this article on this, the 16th anniversary of that day in 2001, I am not going to write about those events, the controversy surrounding it, or even about the events of the most recent natural disasters in our country. I prefer to write about my own experience, and those of my family, to illustrate the point that I will make at the conclusion of this article.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11
One of the most blessed things Christians are privileged to participate in is the life of a local assembly of believers. It might surprise readers to learn that the Bible in both Testaments speaks almost exclusively within the context of local bodies. The Old Testament speaks specifically about the nation, tribes, and families of the Hebrew people. Their story of failure and success in being obedient to God and in becoming the people He desired them to be is a primary storyline of the Old Testament. The New Testament reads like a manual for righteous living within the context of the local church family.
Think about this friends – Matthew wrote for a Jewish audience, Mark a Gentile audience, Luke for the benefit of Theophilus, John to Christians generally speaking, Paul to the churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossae to name a few. One thing these letters have in common with the possible exception of Luke is that they were written to churches. One could argue that Paul’s letters to Timothy were written to an individual believer but even then Paul was instructing Timothy on how to handle issues within the body of believers.
There can be little doubt that as a society we are experiencing both a profound lack of wisdom and a powerful level of adversity. In a time of trial, the robust and antifragile person must be able to recognize the signals that adversity provides. There is great meaning in being able to develop wisdom through adversity. How can we accomplish this feat while avoiding the undeniably potent capability of adversity to destroy wisdom? What do our worldviews suggest about how we should approach this challenging hour?
The current firestorm related to James White’s decision to facilitate an interfaith dialogue with Imam Yasir Qahdi is puzzling in the least and has become a stumbling block for many who do not understand how White cannot understand that he is “dancing with the devil” as the saying goes. Mr. White’s response to those critical of his decision has been the polar opposite of remorse and he has in fact dug his heels in and maintained that his actions were right and consistent with what Christians should be doing. Is that true? What bridges can be built to people who teach that Christians who do not submit or convert to Islam should be murdered? What madness is this that has gripped Christians today such that they believe the lie that building bridges to nowhere constitute evangelism? I won’t rehash all of Mr. White’s actions related to this in detail. You can read about that here – http://www.worldviewweekend.com/news/article/facts-reveal-james-white-islamic-dupe-clueless-evangelicals-are-desperate-save-his
What I wish to address is the support Mr. White has received. Surprisingly a couple of people with very different perspectives, one might say two people with theological beliefs very much at odds with one another, have stepped into the fray to defend Mr. White’s error. I am speaking of Phil Johnson and Michael Brown. This has added a layer of intrigue to the entire situation but has also served to obfuscate the truth of what critics of White’s decision to promote an interfaith dialogue have been saying. By engaging in what appear to be damage control activities on behalf of Mr. White, Johnson seems to have exposed himself as a hypocrite of the highest order. You can be the judge of whether or not that is true based on the information contained in this article. His previous statements seem to be completely contradictory to his stated position concerning James White’s ecumenicalism, or to use the new and improved phrase, interfaith dialogue.