Albert Mohler on How Religious Liberty Dies

Original posted here.

Albert Mohler writes:

The vast high-velocity moral revolution that is reshaping modern cultures at warp speed is leaving almost no aspect of the culture untouched and untransformed. The advocates of same-sex marriage and the more comprehensive goals of the LGBT movement assured the nation that nothing would be fundamentally changed if people of the same gender were iStock_000006371658_Largeallowed to marry one another. We knew that could not be true, and now the entire nation knows.

The latest Ground Zero for the moral revolution is the state of Indiana, where legislators passed a state version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Gov. Mike Pence then signed into law. The controversy that followed was a free-for-all of misrepresentation and political posturing. Within days, the governor capitulated to the controversy by calling for a revision of the law — a revision that may well make the RFRA a force for weakening religious liberty in Indiana, rather than for strengthening it.

Business, political, and civic leaders piled on in a mass act of political posturing. The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act became law in 1993 in a mass act of bipartisan cooperation. The Act passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and with 97 affirmative votes in the Senate. President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law, celebrating the Act as a much needed protection of religious liberty. Clinton called religious liberty the nation’s “first freedom” and went on to state: “We believe strongly that we can never, we can never be too vigilant in this work.”

But, that was then. Indiana is now.

Hillary Clinton, ready to launch her campaign for President, condemned the law as dangerous and discriminatory — even though the law in its federal form has not led to any such discrimination. Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the pages of The Washington Post to declare that the Indiana law “would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors.” For its part, The Washington Post published an editorial in which the paper’s editorial board condemned a proposed RFRA in the state of Georgia because the law would prevent the state government “from infringing on an individual’s religious beliefs unless the state can demonstrate a compelling interest in doing so.”

So, The Washington Post believes that a state should be able to infringe on a citizen’s religious liberty without a compelling interest? That is the only conclusion a reader can draw from the editorial.

The piling on continued when the governor of Connecticut, Dannel Mulloy announced that he would even forbid travel to Indiana by state officials, conveniently forgetting to mention that his own state has a similar law, as does the federal government. The NCAA piled on, as did a host of sports figures from across the country. More than one pundit pointed to the irony of the NCAA trying to posture on a question of sexual morality, but the pile-on continued.

Law professor Daniel O. Conkle of Indiana University stated the truth plainly when he said: “The reaction to this law is startling in terms of its breadth–and to my mind–the extent to which the reaction is uninformed by the actual content of the law.” Similarly, University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, a proponent of gay marriage, stated: “The hysteria over this law is so unjustified.” He continued: “It’s not about discriminating against gays in general or across the board . . . it’s about not being involved in a ceremony that you believe is inherently religious.”

Nevertheless, the real issue here is not the RFRA in Indiana, or Arkansas, or another state. The real issue is the fact that the secular Left has decided that religious liberty must now be reduced, redefined or relegated to a back seat in the culture.

The evidence for this massive and dangerous shift is mounting.

One key indicator is found in the editorial pages of The New York Times. That influential paper has appointed itself the guardian of civil liberties, and it has championed LGBT causes for decades now. But the paper’s editorial board condemned the Indiana law as “cover for bigotry.” The most chilling statement in the editorial, however, was this:

“The freedom to exercise one’s religion is not under assault in Indiana, or anywhere else in the country. Religious people — including Christians, who continue to make up the majority of Americans — may worship however they wish and say whatever they like.”

There you see religious liberty cut down to freedom of worship. The freedom to worship is most surely part of what religious liberty protects, but religious liberty is not limited to what happens in a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue.

That editorial represents religious liberty redefined before our eyes.

But the clearest evidence of the eagerness of the secular Left to reduce and redefine religious liberty comes in the form of two columns by opinion writer Frank Bruni. The first, published in January, included Bruni’s assurance that he affirmed “the right of people to believe what they do and say what they wish — in their pews, homes, and hearts.” Religious liberty is now redefined so that it has no place outside pews, homes, and hearts. Religious liberty no longer has any public significance.

But Bruni does not really affirm religious liberty, even in churches and in the hiring of ministers. He wrote: “And churches have been allowed to adopt broad, questionable interpretations of a ‘ministerial exception’ laws that allow them to hire and fire clergy as they wish.”

The ability of churches to hire and fire ministers as they wish is “questionable.” Remember that line when you are told that your church is promised “freedom of worship.”

But Bruni’s January column was merely a prelude to what came in the aftermath of the Indiana controversy. Now, the openly-gay columnist demands that Christianity reform its doctrines as well.

He opened his column in the paper’s edition published Easter Sunday with this:

“The drama in Indiana last week and the larger debate over so-called religious freedom laws in other states portray homosexuality and devout Christianity as forces in fierce collision. They’re not — at least not in several prominent denominations, which have come to a new understanding of what the Bible does and doesn’t decree, of what people can and cannot divine in regard to God’s will.”

Bruni issued an open demand that evangelical Christians to get over believing that homosexuality is a sin, or suffer the consequences. His language could not be more chilling:

“So our debate about religious liberty should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.”

There you have it — a demand that religious liberty be debated (much less respected) only if conservative believers will get with the program and, mark his language, bow to the demands of the modern age.

Christianity and homosexuality “don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere,” Bruni declared.

He reduced religious conviction to a matter of choice:

“But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing. It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras.”

So the only religion Bruni respects is one that capitulates to the modern age and is found “rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.”

That means giving up the inerrancy of Scripture, for one thing. The Bible, according to Bruni, reflects the biases and blind spots of the human authors and their times. When it comes to homosexuality, he insists, we now know better.

This is the anthem of liberal Protestantism, and the so-called mainline Protestant churches have been devoted to this project for the better part of a century now. Bruni applauds the liberal churches for getting with the program and for revising the faith in light of the demands of the modern age — demands that started with the denial of truths such as the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ, miracles, the verbal inspiration of Scripture, and other vital doctrines. The liberal churches capitulated on the sexuality issues only after capitulating on a host of central Christian doctrines. Almost nothing is left for them to deny or reformulate.

It is interesting to see how quickly some can get with the program and earn the respect of the secular gatekeepers. Bruni cites David Gushee of Mercer University as an example of one who has seen the light. “Human understanding of what is sinful has changed over time,” Bruni quotes Gushee. Bruni then stated that Gushee “openly challenges his faith’s censure of same-sex relationships, to which he no longer subscribes.”

But David Gushee agreed with the church’s historic condemnation of same-sex relationships, even in a major work on Christian ethics he co-authored, until he released a book stating otherwise just months ago. Once a public figure gets with the program, whether that person is David Gushee or Barack Obama, all is quickly forgiven.

Bruni also notes that “Christians have moved far beyond Scripture when it comes to gender roles.” He is right to understand that some Christians have indeed done so, and in so doing they have made it very difficult to stop with redefining the Bible on gender roles. Once that is done, there is every reason to expect that a revisionist reading of sexuality is close behind. Bruni knows this, and celebrates it.

Taken together, Frank Bruni’s two columns represent a full-throttle demand for theological capitulation and a fully developed reduction of religious liberty. In his view, stated now in full public view in the pages of The New York Times, the only faiths that deserve religious liberty are those that bow their knees to the ever most costly demands of the modern age.

It is incredibly revealing that the verb he chose was “bowing.” One of the earliest lessons Christians had to learn was that we cannot simultaneously bow the knee to Caesar and to Christ. We must chose one or the other. Frank Bruni, whether he intended to do so or not, helps us to see that truth with new clarity.

Comments Off on Albert Mohler on How Religious Liberty Dies Posted in Commentary Tagged

Round Up

You are Not a Superhero – You and I were created to live dependent lives, never surviving on the basis of our own strength, wisdom and control. From the moment of our first breath, we were limited, weak, and fragile beings.

Dancing With Wolves – Any literal shepherd tasked with feeding and leading a flock of lambs would be thought deranged if he regarded wolves as potential pets to be domesticated and amalgamated into the fold. Suppose he actively sought and tried to befriend young wolves, presuming he could teach them to mingle with his sheep—insisting against all wise counsel that his experiment might succeed, and if it does, that the wolves will acquire the sheep’s gentleness and the sheep will learn beneficial things from the wolves. Such a shepherd would be worse than useless; he himself would pose an extreme danger to the flock.

Has Any People Heard the Voice of God…And Survived? – A 3-part link.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Quote:

“If you are one of those who undergoes regular worldview-size shifts in your thinking. If your message changes every time a new fad, or a new bestselling book comes along. If you are by nature fascinated with new perspectives and radical doctrine, get out of the ministry. Please. People like that only sow doubt and confusion. The man of God is supposed to be like a tree planted by rivers of water — steadfast, immovable — growing in a steady, constant fashion rather than lurching wildly from one point of view to another all the time.” — Phil Johnson

The Price of Citizenship?

Al Mohler brings up some interesting points that WILL eventually effect Christians here in the United States.  Persecution, while at the moment subtle, is coming. 

Mohler writes:

Anyone who still doubts that the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage will represent a seismic shift in the culture at large needs only to look to New Mexico to see that nothing less than religious liberty is now under threat—and in a big way.

Read the rest.

 

 

Daily Roundup

iPhones, iPads, and Christian Parenting – A poignant  article that parents should read and think about.

Hatred Of Christ – I just love these deep, insightful writings of Roger Salter.

Why Doctrinal Preaching (Has) Declined – During the last two or three generations the pulpit has given less and less prominence to doctrinal preaching, until today, with very rare exceptions, it has no place at all. This was written in 1939!

Aftermath, Lessons from the 2012 Election – The American electorate is becoming more and more secular.  This is going to continue to change the landscape of American politics.

Quote:

“The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still.” – A.W. Tozer

Daily Roundup

New Theme Song for Prosperity Preachers – Courtesy of Pirate Christian Radio by way of Apprising Ministries.  If you are a faithful “Prosperity Abomigospel” follower, you will not like the implications of this song, just sayin’.

MSM Pushing It’s Own Agenda? Part 1 – John McCain on Face the Nation along with some commentary by Denny Burk.

MSM Pushing It’s Own Agenda? Part 2 – Sad that David Gregory never got back around to Carly Fiorina’s statements.  Just goes to show the depth of human depravity.

Desiring God is Making Available a Free Martin Luther eBook – Head on over and grab it in your favorite format, 3 to choose from.

The Importance of God’s Immutability – R. C. Sproul, Jr. takes a look at the unchanging nature of God.  This is the attribute of God that allows Him to be God.

The Holy Spirit and Apologetics – A message by Al Mohler from the 2007 Contending For The Truth Conference.  Well worth the listen.

Quote:

Let me grant, in the first place, that the believer cannot cite a deeper ground for revelation than its divine authority, which he or she recognizes by faith. But this is not to say that believers have nothing to say to the opponents of that revelation. True: they have no airtight proofs; they cannot move the opponent toward faith; but they have at least as much to say in defending as the opponent has in attacking scriptural authority. Unbelief, too, is rooted, not in proofs and arguments, but in the heart. In this respect believers and unbelievers are in exactly the same position. Their convictions are integrally bound up with their whole personality and are only a posteriori supported by proofs and arguments. And now, when the two parties oppose each other with these a posteriori proofs and arguments, the position of believers is not less favorable than that of unbelievers. God is sufficiently knowable to those who seek him and also sufficiently hidden to those who run away from him. “There is enough light for those who only desire to see and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition. There is enough clarity to illumine the elect and enough darkness to humble them. There is enough darkness to render the reprobate sightless and enough clarity to condemn them and to render them inexcusable.” The state of religion, theism, revelation, and Scripture is not as hopeless as science has for years wanted us to believe. – Herman Bavinck

Daily Roundup

The Heritage of Atheism – Without belief in God we not only have a crisis of morality, we have a crisis of meaning.

Revisiting Inerrancy – Al Mohler and friends sit down to talk about the inerrancy of the Word of God.

God’s Plan Before the Ages Began – An Excerpt from John Pipers message, Why Did God Create the World.

Degrees of Sin – It is not uncommon to hear Christians suggesting that every sin is equal in God’s sight.

Abortion and the Campaign for Immorality – John MacArthur rarely ever gets into the political arena in his sermons, but this election year is different.

How Jesus Made Disciples – Could our struggle to make quality disciples come from focusing so much on what Jesus said that we miss what Jesus did?

Quote:

This first promise must certainly be but dark to our first parents, in comparison of that great light which we enjoy. And yet, dark as it was, we may assure ourselves they built upon it their hopes of everlasting salvation and by that faith were saved. – George Whitefield

 

Daily Roundup

Staying in His Lane – Al Mohler takes a look at a recent interview that Joel Osteen did this past week.

The Many Motivators For Personal Holiness – A 4 minute video interview with Kevin DeYoung on his book, The Hole in Our Holiness.

Introduction to the New Testament – Louis Berkhof’s Introduction to the New Testament in 3 formats.

Conduct Worthy of the Gospel in Corporate Worship – If there is gospel etiquette for the gathered church, it starts with evaluating my heart.

What Does Sola Scriptura Mean – Just in case you ever wondered.

When Study isn’t Study – What is proper Bible study.

Quote:

We can no longer assume that just because a church is Southern Baptist it therefore genuinely understands the gospel and knows how it works to save sinners. – Tom Ascol

Daily Roundup

I Declare – An Opinion (one that I happen to agree with) on those who preach a “Word-Faith” Gospel.

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife – Al Mohler responds to the news of a fragment found declaring that Jesus had a wife.

A Job That Matters – What an incredible way of looking at our jobs.  I can certainly relate.

Getting the Gospel Right – A series of sermons on the Gospel by Dr. Derek Thomas.

A Short History of the KJV – Reverend Charlie Skrine gives a 14 minute video session on some historical aspects of the King James Version of the Bible.

Quote:

Calvin had no weapon but the Bible…. Calvin preached from the Bible every day, and under the power of that preaching the city began to be transformed. As the people of Geneva acquired knowledge of God’s Word and were changed by it, the city became, as John Knox called it later, a New Jerusalem from which the gospel spread to the rest of Europe, England, and the New World. – James Montgomery Boice