Over the past week, I have been doing some reminiscing of my high school days—in particular, I’ve been posting some of my artwork from the high school art classes I took back in the mid-80s. Now, as I was rummaging through my old high school things, I came across a paper I had written for my 11th grade Bible class. Ready for the title? It was Christianity 1986 A.D.—Rotting from Within.
My Christian Militant Phase
Catchy title, isn’t it? I wrote it during what I call “my young Christian militant phase.” I had read a number of Francis and Franky Schaeffer’s “call to Christian action” type books like The Great Evangelical Disaster, and Bad News for Modern Man (heck, even the Christian singer Steve Camp had a song by the same name), and I was convinced that the culture war was raging, that the church was apathetic, and the only way to get on fire for Jesus was to criticize and condemn any-and-everything that smacked of “liberalism,” “secularism,” and any professed Christian who wasn’t willing to criticize and condemn these things as vociferously as me.
My Bible teacher was so impressed that she arranged to have me read my paper during one of the last chapels of that year. And read it, I did. It was a call to action, and I was convinced that God had called me to be a leader to raise up a new generation of Christians who would refuse to “compromise” with those liberals. After I read my paper, I even essentially had an “altar call,” and challenged my fellow students, if they were prepared to “get serious” about their faith, to come down to the front and sign their names on a piece of paper. I was planning to then form various “student action groups” over the summer, so that come my senior year, we’d be ready to take back the world for Jesus…and conservatism.
Without going into details, as it turned out, though, God pretty much tapped me on the shoulder that summer and said, “Joel, you have no clue what you’re talking about,” and I begin to re-examine my faith. By the end of the summer, I had come to two conclusions: (1) that Christianity really was true, and (2) that Christian activist stuff that I had blathered on about in my paper and in that chapel was dangerous and reactionary nonsense.
Déjà vu, All Over Again…with AiG
Let’s now skip forward about 25 years to around the time I started to get acquainted with the writings of Ken Ham and the Young Earth Creationist movement. When I wrote my book, The Heresy of Ham, one of the things I noted was that, as strange as it may sound, arguing for a young earth (or a historical Adam, or an actual worldwide flood 4,000 years ago) is actually not the real concern for YECism. The real focus is that of “fighting the culture war.” Thus, a literal-historical reading of Genesis 1-11 is really just the weapon used to fight that larger culture war.
Over the past few years, I’ve read more than my fair share of books by Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, most recently his book, Already Compromised, in which he takes aim at Christian colleges that in his estimation are (you guessed it) compromised. In any case, as I read his books, there was often a voice in the back of my head saying, “Man, some of this culture war stuff sounds familiar—where have I heard it before?” And then I came across my old paper, Christianity 1986 A.D—Rotting from Within. Ironically, I had not only heard much of Ham’s “culture war” pronouncements before, I had actually written much of the same kind of things, back in 1986 (a full year before Ham wrote his book, The Lie), when I was a 16-year-old kid who didn’t know what he was talking about.
What Is Coming Up Over the Next Week or So
I share that story as a way to introduce my next series in which I take a look at Ken Ham’s book Already Compromised. In many ways, it is pretty much par for the YECist course: a lot of “culture war” fear seen solely through the prism of a YECist (mis)interpretation of Genesis 1-11. As a way of leading into my critique of Already Compromised, though, I thought it would be interesting, humorous (and yes, gut-wrenching!) to share my infamous paper from 11th grade Bible class—or at least major portions of it. So, allow me to share…Christianity 1986 A.D.—Rotting from Within. Perhaps you can play a little game, and note all the instances that you feel Ken Ham himself could have written. But above all, please remember, what follows is the mindset I turned away from once I started to really think through my Christian faith.
Enjoy, if that is even possible—I must warn you, it is painful to read. (Note what I’ve highlighted in bold…yikes!)
Christianity 1986 AD: Rotting from Within: April 28, 1986
Many liberals, under the name of Evangelical and Christian, have twisted and molded Christianity into some fashionable, non-controversial religion that anyone can join without giving up one shred of immorality. The greater Christian community, on the other hand, has refused to speak out against these so-called Evangelicals, and has even said that staying uninvolved is biblical and loving. These two groups make up the majority of today’s Christian church. Because these two groups compromise the Word of God and cop out, the secular liberals, in the meantime, are tearing down every wall of morality, and even are attacking the church directly. The time has come for a new generation of Bible-believing young people to choose either to be the Christians that God wants, or to get out of Christianity altogether. There can be no more gray areas for Christianity anymore.
The present day Christian church in America is weak and apathetic. It has fallen back on lies called excuses that allows it to compromise and dilute the Bible. Why has the church done this? For two reasons. First, the liberal Evangelicals want to appear fashionable to the world. Second, the Christian community is afraid to get involved in the war against secular humanism. Franky Schaeffer points out that this is the same passive attitude that the European counties had when Hitler was on the rise.
The Evangelical movement is getting larger because going to church is fashionable, not because of its strong stand on the Bible. Who wants to bother with the judgment of God anymore when there are fashionable controversies to talk about such as social injustice? The Bible does warn about this, though. II Timothy 4:3-4 says: “For the time will come when men will not put with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
Francis Schaeffer points out that in Jeremiah’s day, the religious leaders were held responsible for Israel’s fallen state. The religious leaders of today are also responsible for this country’s, as well as the church’s, falling away from God. Here are just a few examples of what the liberal church leaders are doing.
A professor from a California seminary, probably Fuller Theological Seminary, said that he believed the Bible, “despite all the mistakes in it.” Also, professor John Hick was accepted into the Presbytery of Claremont, California as a “minister in good-standing.” Hick called the incarnation of God a myth. There are also many liberal pastors who do not hold to the inerrancy of scripture, and rely on an “inward feeling” that Jesus lives.
“Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do those very things, but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). This verse is a perfect description of the World Council of Churches. The vice-president of the WCC, Jose Miguez, persuaded it into supporting terrorism, on the grounds that it was a Christian witness. Miguez also views Marxism as “a neutral method of analysis that any fair-minded person can adopt.” At the WCC’s sixth assembly in Vancouver, a certain Dr. Dorthee Solle spoke out against the biblical concept of God and his Lordship. She even encouraged the writings of new Bibles. Francis Schaeffer points out that as a whole, the WCC has a pro-abortion, pro-Marxist, pro-feminist theology.
Another outspoken Evangelical is Ronald J. Sider. In a July 15, 1983 articles in Christianity Today, Sider urged Americans to disarm, knowing full-well that the Soviets would invade and slaughter thousands of innocent people. He then gave his plan, inspired by none other than Gandhi of all people, to save the world: “If hundreds of thousands of committed, praying Christians died in a non-violent campaign, I predict we would see the most rapid expansion of the Christian faith the world has ever known.” What is even worse is that Christianity Today agrees, and makes Sider look like a great, Evangelical orthodox leader.
Other groups, such as the Evangelicals for Social Action and the Christian Legal Society, are also drifting rapidly to a more liberal, anti-biblical point of view. The ESA, according to their own newsletter, believes that before the poor can hear Christ, they must be lifted from poverty. The CLS even says, “The CLS insists that it does not want to impose its values on others.” The CLS went on to say that to impose biblical principles in the courts would be improper.
With all this obviously going on, it would be expected that at least the Christian colleges would be speaking out about it, right? Sorry, Christian colleges are not doing anything to stop the spread of compromise in the church. In some instances, these institutions are themselves drifting off their biblical foundation. A professor of history at Calvin College, George Mardsen, testified on behalf of the ACLU and against fellow Christians in an Arkansas creation case. The second example is of Wheaton College—it does not even take a stand on abortion. According to Franky Schaeffer, Wheaton College chose pro-abortion John Anderson to speak in chapel over Jerry Falwell.
It seems that many Christian colleges know what is right and wrong, but the fear of looking unfashionable has gotten the best of them. But when Christian institutions fail to take a stand on basic moral issues, they are not being open-minded; they are denying their Christian faith in Jesus and fail to be the salt of the earth. Instead of taking a stand against the immorality of this nation, the Christian institutions have chosen to take a stand on how a Christian should look. After all, we all know that Jesus did not come to bring a sword, but a dress code.
It should be made clear that it is the leaders of the colleges, not the students or the families who support them, who are refusing to take a stand. The students are the last hope for true Christianity. This is where a revival must start. The students cannot fall into the same trap of compromise that the previous generation has fallen into. What needs to be exposed now, though, is what has happened to this country as a result of the liberal Evangelicals and the sleeping giant of Christian beliefs.
Defilement in our Land
Like Israel in Jeremiah’s day, God has given this country a rich and fertile land. And just like Israel, this country has misused it. The government leaders have rebelled against God and have allowed detestable things to happen in this country. The first way American has defiled this land is in the area of abortion. In 1981, the Oklahoma supreme court allowed a 12-year old girl to have an abortion over her mother’s religious objections. The court ordered that the mother not even speak to the daughter about it. The second area of defilement has come in the area of infanticide—the killing of babies after they have been born. In the case of Baby Doe of Bloomington, Indiana, Baby Doe was allowed to starve to death because it had Downs Syndrome, and the parents did not want a defective child.
Romans 1:26-27 tells about the people who knew God but refused to acknowledge him. God then gave them over to homosexuality and unnatural relations. In a September 7, 1981 article in Time, titled “Cradle to the Grave Intimacy,” “sexologists” encouraged children to have full sex lives for their own good. This, along with the spread of homosexuality, only confirms that this verse is true.
The last defilement of America is its direct attack on the church. The Kentucky supreme court, for example, said that the phrase, “One nation under God,” was a historical misconception. In the town of Zion, Illinois, an atheist is preparing to take the town to court and try to force it to take down the Christian symbols on their town seal. If this is not enough to rouse the sleeping religious communities of America, this next incident should. Francis Schaeffer tells about a San Francisco Presbyterian congregation that was taken to court for breaking the law of discrimination because the practicing homosexual organist was told to leave the church. Why do Christians allow this sort of persecution?
Christians Need to Get Involved
There can no longer be nice Christians who smile and say nice things anymore. Satan has fooled Christians into believing that being nice is what God wants. Christians are not called to be nice, but to be loving. When Jesus threw out the people in the temple who were cheating the poor, it was out of love; by no means was Jesus being nice. This writer believes that orthodox Christians should have a hand in every area of the media, arts, and the government. God did not just call pastors and teachers. He also called apostles and prophets. Today’s apostles and prophets need to be journalists, politicians, and any other occupation that can influence America.
The secular liberals argue that Christians cannot impose their morality. Christians have just as much a right to impose their morality as the liberals have to impose their immorality. Congress made the first amendment for freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, as many atheists might lead us to believe. Christians should not be timid weaklings. Hebrews 10:39 says, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” If Christians believe Jesus when he said, in Matthew 10:34, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword,” they will use the sword for deadly opposition against hostile principles.
So what about Christians who do not speak up? They cannot truly be following Jesus. These passive Christians are mentioned in Isaiah 30:9-11: These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!”
God also has told passive Christians the consequences if they continue not to speak out, even though they know the truth. The writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 10:26-27, 31: If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
God calls these people “enemies of God.’ God said in Jeremiah 15:6 that he will destroy the backsliders. Revelation 3:15-16 tells us that God is about to spit lukewarm Christians out of his mouth. And in Jeremiah 2:19, God tells passive Christians, “Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me.”
Jeremiah 23:1-4 tells us about shepherds who have not cared for the flock. As a result, the flock has scattered. The present-day church is scattered because of the leaders, and God is calling us to be the remnant. Why does this have to happen? Because the present-day church has not seized the opportunities God has given it to change the deteriorating situation around it. If we want to be the ones God is calling back, we must influence our society with our Christian convictions and beliefs. We must obey Jesus. Peter and John defied the religious and government leaders and confronted society with the truth they were given.
The bottom line is this: Jesus is calling for a new, alive church that is not infiltrated by the world, but instead, infiltrates into the world. We must challenge ourselves today either to have some guts, follow Jesus, become part of the new church he is calling for, and be ready to die for him, or get out of Christianity altogether.
People who fool themselves by playing religious games will go to hell. So if we are not serious about Jesus, we should go out into the world and grab everything we can. Let’s have a party, because that is all we are going to get. We will suffer sooner or later. It is better to suffer here on earth for Jesus than to suffer for eternity in hell. It is time to draw a definite line between Christians and non-Christians. So-called Christians who do not put their faith into action are not Christians at all. There is no such thing as riding a fence. Get right or get left. Become a child of light or darkness. Make a choice today.
There you have it: little, militant 16-year-old Joel, parroting the propaganda of a few reactionary books. In my next post, as a way to introduce my series on Ken Ham’s Already Compromised, I’ll share some of my reflections on my 11th grade display of ignorance and arrogance.