No True Christian … Part One examined what basis there is for an assertion that a true Christian would or would not do certain things or behave in certain ways. By way of reminder, those who do make such assertions commit the No True Scotsman Fallacy. Knowing right from wrong does not guarantee that one will make every decision with that view in the forefront. People are fallible, as we are all aware.
In our present time, the left side of the aisle that identifies as Christian contends that Jesus was a woke Socialist and that his followers must needs be woke socialists also. What do they offer to support their contention? Why, Scripture, of course. Both progressives and conservatives turn to the Word of God in support of their political and cultural positions, but the understanding and application of Scripture differ substantially for progressives and conservatives. For progressives, their social and political commitments sit on top of the Bible, and their preconceived “truths” inform their understanding of Scripture rather than allowing Scripture to inform their positions on a given issue to decide what is true and right.
On the other hand, the historical-grammatical context informs a Christian conservative’s understanding of Scripture. (Not all conservatives are Christians, of course, so they may very well base their choices on the way they were brought up, though those “passed down views” probably stem from “the Christian Era,” a time when society in general judged many issues of right and wrong through the lens of scripture.) As a result, conservative’s social and cultural views – and how they vote for any given position – are informed by their biblical understanding. As Dr. George Yancey, Professor of Sociology at Baylor University points out:
For progressive Christians, Jesus is primarily the model of inclusion and tolerance. For example, one progressive Christian drew a cartoon of Jesus saying, “The difference between me and you is you use Scripture to determine what love means and I use love to determine what Scripture means.” Progressive Christians focus on the actions and teachings of Jesus that reinforce their values of tolerance and inclusion, which they see as examples of love.1Who’s More Political: Progressive or Conservative Christians?, George Yancy, TGC. April 29, 2021
Progressive pastors may be dumbfounded when they quote from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) and find themselves accused of using liberal talking points. In “Jesus Was a Socialist”: Christianity in Crisis as Conservatives Finally Realize Jesus Was Woke, Russell Moore, one of the Woke, weighs in:
Moore said that some individuals are questioning the origins of these teachings and dismissing them as “liberal talking points.” Even when pastors assert that they are directly quoting Christ, their words are often met with skepticism. “When the teachings of Jesus himself are viewed as disruptive to us, we find ourselves in a state of crisis,” Moore said.
The essential key of interpretation, however, is often missing for progressive liberals – they do not take context into account. Simply because a passage is quoted doesn’t mean the application given it is true. False teachers, cultists, Eastern religions, and yes, progressive liberals and even conservatives can take Scripture out of context and give it a meaning that is not derived from the context.
For example, was Jesus identifying Peter as the literal Prince of Darkness when He rebuked Peter:
But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (Matthew 16:23)
No, not at all. Jesus was saying that Peter was “speaking as Satan would speak” when Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross. Peter was acting as a stumbling block to Jesus since it was His divine purpose to suffer and die for mankind’s salvation.2Get behind me, Satan: With a sharp rebuke, Jesus confronts Peter’s misunderstanding of the Messiah’s ultimate mission. Peter’s implicit desires align better with Satan’s aims (to convince Jesus to avoid suffering and death; 4:1–11) than with God’s plan (the cross) John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Mt 16:23 Thinking about it here, Peter was “doing unto others (Jesus) as he would want others to do for him” (according to the flesh) since Peter would not think it would be in his own best interest to die on the cross. But that would, of course, be abusing Jesus’s meaning of “doing unto others” if your supposedly “loving act” causes another person to defy the Will of God. That’s the importance of context.
We decided to answer the claims of Russell Moore and the Woke crowd by turning back a century in time to another person who fought this very same battle with liberals in his day. J. Gresham Machen’s book Christianity and Liberalism came out one hundred years ago in 1923, and his response to the out-of-context use of the Sermon on the Mount is instructive:
But may not that theology still be removed? May we not get rid of the bizarre, theological element which has intruded itself even into the Sermon on the Mount, and content ourselves merely with the ethical portion of the discourse? The question, from the point of view of modern liberalism, is natural. But it must be answered with an emphatic negative. For the fact is that the ethic of the discourse, taken by itself, will not work at all. The Golden Rule furnishes an example. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”—is that rule a rule of universal application, will it really solve all the problems of society? A little experience shows that such is not the case. Help a drunkard to get rid of his evil habit, and you will soon come to distrust the modern interpretation of the Golden Rule. The trouble is that the drunkard’s companions apply the rule only too well; they do unto him exactly what they would have him do unto them—by buying him a drink. The Golden Rule becomes a powerful obstacle in the way of moral advance. But the trouble does not lie in the rule itself; it lies in the modern interpretation of the rule. The error consists in supposing that the Golden Rule, with the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, is addressed to the whole world. As a matter of fact the whole discourse is expressly addressed to Jesus’ disciples; and from them the great world outside is distinguished in the plainest possible way. The persons to whom the Golden Rule is addressed are persons in whom a great change has been wrought—a change which fits them for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Such persons will have pure desires; they, and they only, can safely do unto others as they would have others do unto them, for the things that they would have others do unto them are high and pure.
So it is with the whole of the discourse. The new law of the Sermon on the Mount, in itself, can only produce despair. Strange indeed is the complacency with which modern men can say that the Golden Rule and the high ethical principles of Jesus are all that they need. In reality, if the requirements for entrance into the Kingdom of God are what Jesus declares them to be, we are all undone; we have not even attained to the external righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, and how shall we attain to that righteousness of the heart which Jesus demands? The Sermon on the Mount, rightly interpreted, then, makes man a seeker after some divine means of salvation by which entrance into the Kingdom can be obtained. Even Moses was too high for us; but before this higher law of Jesus who shall stand without being condemned? The Sermon on the Mount, like all the rest of the New Testament, really leads a man straight to the foot of the Cross.3Machen, J. Gresham. Christianity and Liberalism; 1923, pp. 57 – 59; E4 Group, Kindle Edition
The Sermon on the Mount is not an ethical prescription but a description of a life we are not at all capable of fulfilling in our own strength without the Spirit of God within. It is a demonstration that the wall of separation between God and us is so high we cannot possibly scale it. It is so wide we cannot get around it. It is so deep we cannot dig under it, and it is so thick we cannot burrow through it. The Sermon on the Mount is, like nearly every teaching in the gospels – and most of the rest of the New Testament – about our total sinfulness being exposed in the light of the utter holiness of Jesus and our desperate need, at the foot of the cross, to call on the One Who is the Door through the wall. With the redemption He provides, we receive a new nature, and as Machen pointed out:
The persons to whom the Golden Rule is addressed are persons in whom a great change has been wrought—a change which fits them for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Such persons will have pure desires; they, and they only, can safely do unto others as they would have others do unto them, for the things that they would have others do unto them are high and pure.
The “Golden Rule” cannot not be rightly carried out by those who reject the indwelling Spirit. That agrees exactly with what Paul says to Christians in Galatians.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:16-18 ESV
The next verses go on to list the desires of the flesh as:
sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)
We take NO pleasure in pointing out that many of these things are exactly the sins that the woke seek to “normalize” and “celebrate” – while demanding that we all do the same. Our hope is that many will truly WAKE and reject the way of death while they can.
For those who are redeemed, perhaps the greatest act of doing true good unto others is to call them to repentance from sin and point them to Jesus, to call upon Him for salvation. There is nothing more important.Ω
© 2023, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.
|↑1||Who’s More Political: Progressive or Conservative Christians?, George Yancy, TGC. April 29, 2021|
|↑2||Get behind me, Satan: With a sharp rebuke, Jesus confronts Peter’s misunderstanding of the Messiah’s ultimate mission. Peter’s implicit desires align better with Satan’s aims (to convince Jesus to avoid suffering and death; 4:1–11) than with God’s plan (the cross) John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Mt 16:23|
|↑3||Machen, J. Gresham. Christianity and Liberalism; 1923, pp. 57 – 59; E4 Group, Kindle Edition|