As I was reading Jonathan Merritt’s post on The Atlantic today I couldn’t help but be faced with the gruesome reality of what we are facing as a Christian community. His article – if you didn’t read it – paints a picture of the laws conservative Christians are supporting eventually being used against us. And this is true. I think he’s right to say that someday somehow laws that are made to protect religious freedoms will, in fact, be used against the ones excited about their possible implementation (even though most of them have failed).
Being a former pastor now professional Tweeter (yea, I’m a tweeter on the Tweeter) I understand the desire to protect the church. I’ve had difficult conversations with people telling them that for the safety of the church they’d have to leave. So here, in this argument of laws initially being in support of religion turning on religion my first thought is how to protect the church? But what about what the Bible says?
Are the authority of Scripture and the possible passing of these laws at odds? If they’re not then are we to protect the Church from the threat of possible future persecution or are we to obey what the Bible says? (For the sake of this post let’s say the laws and Scripture are not at odds – even though may be.)
So what do we, as Bible believing Christians, do when a current biblical trend could possibly be dangerous, and even harmful, for the church?
I really think answering this should be hard for us. In essence become the enemy of the Church, the Bride of Christ, the one for whom he died in order to pass a law that is biblical? Or protect the Bride of Christ from the Law of Land based out of the Word of God?
The trends and poles are pointing to the loss of religious freedoms; I would add the loss of Christian religious freedoms. Dr. Ashford of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary spoke last Monday at an evangelism conference for North Carolina Baptists on the issue of suffering for our beliefs. Saying things like, “Pastors will go to prison for hate speech.”
So do we aim at passing laws affording us the freedom to speak on while others continue to gnaw away at the base of the church for they are free to do so? Or do we let hate speech become something we will often pay the penalty for? Do we protect the Church from the constant gnawing of her dissenters or do we see our own become our enemies and our leaders go to jail for speaking truth?
As hard as it is to see yourself become the ‘Church's enemy’ we must, as Christians, stick to the authority of Scripture. Not just because that’s what we believe but because that’s what makes us Christians. Yes, ultimately the gospel is what makes us Christians, but penultimately we must believe that God has revealed himself - and his gospel - in Scripture. So if, and when, in the future we are faced with the difficult choice of protecting the Church by deviating from Scripture or hurting the Church by clinging to Scripture we must, for we are bound by who we are, stay close to Scripture.
“Go back, go back to the ancient paths;
Lash your heart to the ancient mast,
And hold on, boy, whatever you do.
To the hope that’s taken hold of you,
And you’ll find your way.
You’ll find your way;
If love is what you’re looking for;
The old roads lead to an open door,
And you’ll find your way back home.” - Andrew Peterson