Archive for the ‘America’ Category

2016 is shaping up to be one of the wildest election years in American history.  I also believe it may very well be the most important one as well.  Our country is at a tipping point morally, spiritually, and financially.  We have not reached the point of no return, but with another 4 to 8 years with a bad president we may well be heading that direction.  The truth is no single man (or woman) will be able to pull the country back or topple it forward.  The president is simply the face of the majority of Americans who decide to vote.  The president’s policies come from the heart and outpouring of those who voted for him.  This is one of the reasons this election matters so much.  It will be a litmus test to see where we really are as a country.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am not a very political person.  I do my part and vote each election year, but I leave it in the Lord’s hands.  The writer of Proverbs says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1).  We are blessed to live in a country where we are offered the liberty to vote for who will rule us.  This is truly a blessing.  Many people in the world do not have this right or ability, and I believe we as Christians should be some of the first ones in the voting lines.  However, we must not simply go there and vote party lines, or vote because Fox News or CNN has told us who a good candidate is.  We need to be informed . . . not just on the person but on what they believe as well.  When we go into the booth we go in as citizens of a kingdom first, and not a nation.  While we are citizens in the United States, we are first citizens of the Kingdom of God, and if we are going to honor that citizenship, we must vote with that in mind first.  Since we have been given such a great responsibility I think we need to be sure to remember what is most important before we punch a chad, pull a lever, or push a button.  Here are 3 words to remember before you vote.

Integrity

Integrity has been defined as what you do when no one else is looking.  So many politicians have made promises just simply to get a vote, only to later renege on that promise; it is almost cliché to even talk about it.  The epistle writer James said “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation”  (James 5:12).  Integrity is a quality that we should be looking for in a presidential candidate . . . even if the person is saying something that we disagree with, we should at least be able to trust what they are saying.  There are many candidates out there that have flipped and flopped on issues more than an Olympic high-diver trying to win a gold medal.  While we are not voting for a pastor and chief, the person we vote for should be a man of integrity.

Morality

There are some who want to say that morality is fluid (always changing) or is up for every individual to decide.  As Christians, we know where morality comes from.  It is not made or legislated on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Morality is something that a moral God has given us in His divine Word.  Murder is always immoral (abortion or an unjust war for example).  Racism is always immoral.  Stealing is always immoral.  Lying is always immoral.  Now, it is true that we can all fall into the trap of these sins from time to time if we are not careful, but when you recognize it as sin, it must be repented of.  However, there are some candidates that have a pattern of these immoral acts, or at least support them positionally.  If a candidate supports immorality or has a pattern of it themselves, should we really cast our vote for them?  I don’t believe Jesus would vote for a grossly immoral candidate.

Wisdom

If a person is to be the President of the United States they need to be wise.  This does not mean they have to have all the answers themselves.  A wise person understands their short comings (Proverbs 11:14), and surrounds themselves with wise council (Proverbs 15:22).  As Christians we do not need to vote for someone just because they speak well, or look good in a suit.  We see where that got Israel when it came to King Saul (I Samuel 9:2).  No, we need to look for someone who is wise, and for us we know that the beginning of wisdom starts with the fear of the Lord.  Again, we are not voting for a pastor and chief, but a commander and chief . . . so they do not have to agree with every theological doctrine that we do, but for them to be a good president, wisdom must be applied.

There are many different factors that should be considered when casting our vote this coming March and November.  However, when you go into your voting booth I hope that you will remember these three words; Integrity, Morality, and Wisdom.  I believe this to be the most important election we have seen in our lifetime (and possibly ever).  Please go out and vote.  Please vote with conviction.  Vote as a citizen of heaven before voting as one from the U.S.  For our kingdom is not of this world . . . but while we are here let’s vote in a way that would honor our true King.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

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A quick look at church history in America will allow any student to see that the Reformation and the Enlightenment have both left distinguishing marks on contemporary Christianity in the United States.  The foundation of American Christianity has for its roots people like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and John Wesley.  However, just a few years into the American Experiment, the teachings of people like Immanuel Kant, David Hume, and even Voltaire were permeating the shores of this new and young nation.  Today we can see the teachings of all of these men (from Calvin to Kant) all across these great lands.  To understand contemporary American Christianity one must understand the influence these two movements in church history have had on this nation.  This will be a two part blog.  The first one will give a little background on how were got to where we are.  The second will explain why I have hope in the American Church. Let’s take a moment to look at our history and how we got to where we are today.

The Reformation:

Modern America owes its life to the Reformation.  “The story of America is literally the story of the Reformation,” says Peter Lillback.  The Pilgrims desired to be able to worship freely.  This desire was derived from their understanding of Christianity based upon Reformation teachings.  The Puritans desired to have a society that was ruled solely by Scripture.  America quickly became a Protestant wonderland.  This is one of the reasons that we have so many different Protestant churches in America today.  A quick survey of Protestantism in the U.S. in the 21st century would find more than 200 different denominations.  We see hundreds of Bible Colleges and Seminaries today because of the strong push for Christian education that was brought about because of the Reformation.  We see many of our early laws in America founded on Biblical principles (“All men are created equal”, “The Church protected from state control”, warnings against kings but in favor of Godly rulers).  These were all Reformation ideas.  This is because the Bible was important to the Reformation and to American society.  This is due to the Reformation’s teaching of Sola Scriptura and the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer.  Without the Reformation America would be completely different than it is today.  The Reformation’s influence was great, and it still lives on today.

The Enlightenment:

Secondly, we find the importance of the Enlightenment on American culture.  Karl Barth characterized this movement as “a system founded upon the presupposition of faith in the omnipotence of human ability.”  This is a very good description of the Enlightenment.  It was a movement with its deepest tenant being the rational mind.  It based everything on reason.  Most often it rejected both supernatural revelation and man’s sinfulness.  This way of thinking greatly influenced much of society (especially those of higher education) in America.  It influenced several of our founding documents.  The Declaration of Independence, for instance, is seen by some as an embodiment or culmination of Enlightenment ideas such as liberty, democracy, republicanism, and religious tolerance.  There are some good things (democracy, religious tolerance) that came into the political arena because of the Enlightenment; however, it did much damage to the church as well.  This period was riddled with skepticism about the reliability of the Bible, the church, and many important doctrines.  It gave rise to many liberal denominations and sects of Christianity that have done much harm to the body of Christ.  There is no doubt that the Enlightenment has had a major influence on modern American culture.  Politically, there have been some good things; religiously, you would be hard pressed to find anything positive to say about this period for the church.

There is no doubt that these two movements have had more influence than any other in American history.  In the early stages of America, the Reformation was more important when looking at its influence on the forming of our country.  However, in modern day America, I believe the ideas of the Enlightenment have had a bigger influence than that of the Reformation.  It seems that much of America has become more humanistic in their thinking and way of life.  This is a direct influence of Enlightenment thinking.  This may not have been the intention of some of our early American fathers, but when taken to its logical conclusion it is easy to see why we now have legalized abortion on demand and the Supreme Court deliberating the idea of legal gay “marriage” nationwide.  Reason from a fallen mind and fallen heart is incomplete.  Mental reason is one of the good things that was brought to light during the Enlightenment, but when it is separated from an omnipotent God who has given us a supreme authority to go by (the Bible), a person’s reason is limited and will eventually fail because of its fallen nature.  Enlightenment thinking is ruining our country, and it is ruining our church.  When God’s Word is not considered authoritative, anything can go.  It is time that we return to what made us a great country.  What made us a great country was the Source of our reasoning (i.e. a creator God who was intimately involved with His people).  The Reformation redirected our minds to God and His Word.  This is what our country was built on.  This is why, I believe, the Lord blessed our nation for so long.  While the Enlightenment may be the ruler of today in contemporary American culture, I pray one day soon the heart of the Reformation will rise again within the Church, the Lord will bless the prayers of His people, and make us a great country again for His glory.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell