Thursday, December 14, 2006

Answering Bakker & Brown

The online edition of CNN,, recently ran an article by Jay Bakker and Marc Brown Bakker, the son of former PTL Club leaders Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner, is pastor and co-founder of “Revolution Church”.

Jay Bakker and Marc Brown
Bakker and his long time friend and staff member of Revolution Church Marc Brown, severely misunderstand Biblical Christianity. While I agree with the premise that Christianity should not be co-opted by a political party, the fact that one political party adopts platform planks more amenable to Christians, does not equate to Christians be co-opted by a particular party. The other party has rather shown itself to be antagonistic to many positions Biblical Christians hold dear.

Bakker and Brown then imply that Christians supporting laws which force others to live by their standards is somehow bad. Christians do support laws which reflect the Judeo-Christian background from which the legal basis of our republic was fashioned. Every law reflects someone’s standards. The idea that Biblical Christians should not be an influence upon society is ludicrous, especially from those who purport to teach Biblical Truth. Jesus, Himself, called His followers the “light of the world”, the “salt of the earth”.

The mis-guided Bakker and Brown then attempt to explain that people are turned off by the hypocrisy and judgementalism of Christians. They seem to suggest that Christians should simply accept each person as they are, and even go so far as to imply that Christ accepted them as they were. That simply is not consistent with Biblical teachings. While The Lord Jesus Christ did indeed receive everyone who came to Him just as they were, He didn’t expect them to remain that way. In fact, to the woman caught in adultery, He admonished, “Go and sin no more.”

Jesus first message was one of repentance. Though people flocked to Him, we’re told in John chapter two that He did not commit Himself to those whose hearts were not right because He knew what was inside them. Jesus’ last message to the church in The Revelation was also one of repentance. Repentance is much more than simple acknowledgment of a truth. It ultimately means to turn from one’s sin.

The conundrum faced by those who purport such positions as Bakker and Brown is the determination of what is sin. I agree with their statement that such things as homosexuality and abortion should not divide Believers. I honestly believe that all Biblical Believers should adamantly oppose those practices as sin. However, the tenor of the article leaves me believing that they meant something much different than my position.

Bakker and Brown go on to explain that the rhetoric surrounding homosexuality and abortion is too shrill and that we should just love everyone. I agree. Those pushing the liberal agenda of homosexuality and abortion are extremely shrill in their pronouncements. They need to experience Christian love. The Biblical kind of love which confronts them in their error and calls on them to repent. Christian love is not irresponsible acceptance of error, but rather the willingness to suffer in order to communicate Biblical truth. Jesus loved those misusing the temple so much He took a whip and drove them from the premises.

We are admonished by Bakker and Brown to love people as they are, without an agenda. I contend that those who are genuine followers of Jesus Christ must have an agenda. We are commissioned to go and make disciples. That includes confronting them with the Biblical Truth and trusting The Holy Spirit to convict them of error. Convincing them of their error is not our mission. However, neither is it our mission to make such accommodation for them as to enable comfort in their error.

While Jesus did admonish His followers to minister to the poor and needy, it was a relatively small part of His message. He taught that men whose focus is on Him will act differently toward the needy than those focused on the things of this world. He vividly pointed the wrong mindedness of those who should be spiritual leaders by showing how they abused those in need. Yet, He seemed to teach that there are some things more important than caring for those in need of physical help.

Having said all this, I still think the greatest error promulgated by Bakker and Brown is the idea that the survival of Christianity is somehow dependant upon the actions of puny man. Almighty God has an agenda. It is a supernatural agenda, which cannot be overturned nor curtailed by humankind. Such belief demonstrates the exaltation of man, and the subtle denigration of God by churchmen of this age. We, who believe in the God of Creation, believe also in His sustaining power. All the events of this age are drawing us ever closer to that time when all men everywhere must give account for their actions based on a personal relationship with The Living God.

© 2006 Mike Rasberry

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Second Christmas; Post-Katrina

Throughout the last few months many of you have asked how things are developing here in Slidell. As we approach our second post-Katrina Christmas several items stand out:

1. While much progress has been made, hundreds of homes remain unlivable.
2. The business community is recovering nicely, but still suffers from a severe lack of workers.
3. Evidence is piling up that a large segment of the population mis-used their FEMA and insurance monies.
4. The temporary spiritual awakening is coming to a close. People still appreciate the efforts of churches to help in the restoration, and they still will listen to our story with courtesy, but they seem to have fallen into spiritual dullness.
5. Human personal needs are accelerating at an alarming rate.
6. Believers are growing weary of bearing an increased ministry workload due to more unchurched in the area, and fewer Believers.
7. Ministry teams and work groups seem to no longer sense an urgency to minister here.
8. Financial resources in the churches are dwindling, even as the demands are spiraling. Food, diapers, blankets, and personal care items are in continual demand; and the sources for such items seems to have almost dried up.
9. The inability or unwillingness of officialdom in New Orleans to effectively handle crime and political malfeasance seems to be affecting the willingness of people to commit to helping the North Shore, which has dealt very effectively with those issues, as this area is usually lumped in with New Orleans in the minds of most people throughout the country.

Is the situation hopeless? Certainly not! However, we are standing at a critical juncture. The true test of the will of a people is the ability to function efficiently and effectually in the midst of continuing adversity. Baptists are known as "People of the Book". They have always felt it to be a Biblical mandate to do good whenever it was within their ability to do so. Baptists have stood strong against the evils of the last century by denouncing Fascism, Nazism, Communism, Racism, and Liberalism. They have immersed themselves in the culture in such a way as to affect change. They have sacrificially given their sons and daughters to fight for freedom around the globe, to serve as missionaries to spread God's Good News, and to feed and clothe those ravaged by disaster.

The problem we Baptists seem to face is a kind of innate impatience which manifests itself when there is no measurable progress. We are not very good at "staying the course". We easily become disenchanted with projects which show little discernible progress. We appear to look for "instant gratification" and expect those we help to immediately demonstrate some sort of self-sufficiency. This attitude is demonstrated again and again by Baptist agencies and individual churches who desire such progress as will "justify" their continued support of a particular project. Little thought seems to be given to the fact that myriads of small almost indiscernible victories usually lead to large victory celebrations in the indeterminate future.

I'm often reminded of my friend, Samuel Babu, who I met in Hydrabad, India. Samuel was visited by a man from Nashville, Tennessee during the early 1970's who was leading a WIN (Witness Involvement Now) Clinic. That man shared Christ with Samuel, but Samuel did not receive Christ at that time. However, Christ's Holy Spirit eventually drew Samuel to Christ. That man never knew that Samuel became a Believer. Samuel has led thousands to faith in Christ, and that man probably would think his visit was in vain. However, when that man steps through the pearly gates to begin his first ten thousand years with The Lord, untold numbers might greet him and say, "Thank you for going to India, and to the home of Samuel Babu."

We Baptists need to rediscover the art of going where God says go, and trusting Him for the results. We need to be prayerful in our commitments, and we need to stay the course until a definite word from God tells us to change course. That is certainly true of Southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Promises of support and help which never materialize, or which are discontinued when higher profile opportunities arise create an opportunity for the Evil One to seize the moment and disparage the entire body of accomplishment, leaving immature and growing Believers with a jaded and disillusioned perspective on the value of commitments.

Perhaps, the geographical location of Southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast leads most to think those areas are part of the Bible Belt and therefore filled with mature believers. In fact, the area from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi through Louisiana via I-10 to Orange Texas bears little similarity to the traditional Bible Belt other than geographical proximity. The overwhelming preponderance of citizens of that area are old line Roman Catholics with a smathering of Island Voodoo, and other mystical religions thrown in. Their heritage is French, Creole, German, Acadian, Spanish, and Caribbean Pirate. They are intensely loyal to family ties, and often remain suspicious of outsiders. These are the people who have been impacted by the outpouring of support by Baptist and other Christian churches over the past year.

We must NOT grow weary in well-doing. Who knows but that the very next person reached for Christ will become the Samuel Babu of Southeast Louisiana. Who knows but that untold numbers will greet you and say, “Thank you for going to South Louisiana.” Please take this Christmas time, the time of selfless giving and re-evaluate your commitment to this region for Christ's Sake.

© 2006 Mike Rasberry