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Social Justice – Is Barack Obama a Heretic?

January 18, 2012 by Christianity No Comments

 

ABSTRACT

As a Christian, I suggest that President Obama is a heretic.

There is a direct theological connection between the Inquisitors during the 350 year duration of the Spanish Inquisition, and the Social Justice, Social Gospel, ‘Christian’ liberals of today.

Before you laugh, let me say that no Social Justice liberals I know about are advocating burning heretics at the stake for heresy (they actually prefer denial of free speech, public denunciation, and social ostracism).  They are motivated by a their version of Christianity to create a welfare state in America because of a heretical theology.

What I am saying, and will prove in this post, is that the theology by which both the Inquisitors and the Social Gospel liberals – like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Jim Wallis, and others – arrive at their conclusions and positions is one and the same; and it is a clear violation of what Jesus taught.

Jesus taught (Luke 20:22-26) that the realm of God and the realm of civil authorities are two separate realms, each with its own authorities and responsibilities. Each of their spheres of authority differs from the others; and our responsibilities to each of them differ.  (I elaborate below.)

Since this is true, it is also true that Christians have obligations and responsibilities to each, but because their authorities are very different, our obligations and responsibilities are very different.

Both Church and state are created by God, but they serve different purposes; and Jesus in Luke 20:22-26 taught that those purposes must be kept separate.

When the Catholic Church, or any other Christian Church claiming to descend from Jesus gives the civil government any of the powers or responsibilities of the Church of assumes powers only given to the state, they are in violation of the teaching of Jesus and those Christians who engage in it are heretics.  If the civil authorities usurp any of the authority of the Church, they are in violation of the teaching of Jesus, and the Church must resist.

This separation of spheres of authority does not mean that the Church will not influence the disposition of the state.  This is where the separation issue gets muddled.  The church has every right to humanize it the state; lead it to recognize the infinite value of individuals, lead it to government by consent, presumption of innocence, and a number of other principles that are Christian in origin and that the state would never have invented on its own.

The separation has to do with what God authorized the state to do, and what He authorized the Church to do.  The state may not interfere in what only the Church is authorized to do; the Church may not enlist the state to participate in what only the Church is authorized to do.

Both the Inquisitors and the Social Gospel liberals have turned their back on the clear teaching of Jesus because it serves their purposes to do so.  Both of these groups advocate that the state carry out mandates given only to the Church.  What each of them desires the state to do was quite different, but the heresy – the departure from the teaching of Jesus is exactly the same.

The Inquisitors allied the Church with the civil authorities to carry out non-biblical, criminal responses to perceived heresies, and in doing so, engaged in heretical actions.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say the Church can use the state to punish heresy.

The Christian Social Justice crowd allies the Church with the civil authorities to carry out a strictly Christian mission of providing relief for the poorNowhere in the Bible does it say that the mission of the church to provide relief applies to anyone who is not a member of the church.

Erasing the clear line between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world always ends in the hegemony of the state over the Church; and it is always wrong.  This gets the Church involved in activities distinctly secular and unchristian, and it always makes the state unworthy of allegiance.  When this is done, the Church becomes merely a political arm of the state and because it has a god before God, it ceases to be the Body of Christ.

Day to day Christians are by this means taken by their leaders into perdition.  By diverting the mission given to the Church by Christ into other directions, many are permitted to believe they are carrying out the mission of Jesus when in fact they are not.  When the blind follow the blind, Jesus taught, they both fall into the ditch.  (Matthew 15:14)

I know the political leaders and pastors who promote this heresy think they are doing something really good – that’s the evil of it, heresy supplants theology.  They think enforcing a mission given to the Church by Jesus using the coercive power of the state is a wonderful thing, and that sacrifice (taxes) is what we must do to make the world a better place.

Jesus, though, echoed his Father – “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1Samuel 15:22) – when he said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments,” (John 14:15) and, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.  Whoever says, ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.  By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”  (1John 2:3-6)  Obedience to the theology taught by Jesus in Luke 20:22-26 is much better than sacrifice.

True Christians do what Jesus told them to do; Social Justice, Social Gospel, welfare state ‘Christian’ liberals do what they think is good.  In doing this, they reduce Christianity to a squalid, copycat salvation by works facsimile of all false religions in the world.

Though their goals are different, both the Inquisitors and the Social Justice advocates choose to violate the teaching of Jesus regarding the separate spheres of authority and responsibility of the church and the state.

There have been numerous instances of the state desiring to use the Church for its own purposes (Soviet control over the Russian Orthodox Church, English Monarch control over the Anglican Church; the exploits of Charlemagne and many others).  To the degree the Church acquiesces and cooperates with these hegemonic actions it becomes secular and not Christian.  To the degree Christians resist, they keep the faith.  (Acts 5:27-32)

For both the Inquisitors and the Social Gospel liberals, it is the Church desiring have the state carry out activities reserved for the Church.  In both instances the advocacy and practice is heretical.  Note that it is always this liberal crowd who bring the mission of the Church to the state and ask the state to carry out the Christian mission; and it is always the same people who howl the loudest if a child somewhere, somehow, thinks a silent prayer on public property.

[They remind me of those to whom Jesus said, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence…first clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean…Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones...”  (Matthew 23:25, 27)]

So, yes, if Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Jim Wallis are Christians, they are heretics.  If they are not Christians, they should just say so and admit they are socialists or communists.  By claiming to be Christians and seeing the Christian mission as being fulfilled through the welfare state, they display their heresy for all to see.  They are heretics because they ignore a clear critical teaching of Jesus preferring instead to use his moral voice to have the state carry out the mission of the Church, while they shift the blame and loudly denounce conservatives for trying to legislate morality.

Some years ago I interviewed Jim Wallis in studio for my radio show.  In the course if the hour-long interview, I told him that the problem I have with people like him is that they don’t distinguish between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world.  He had no answer, simply because he no longer believes there is any difference.  That is a heretical view.

The only people today that are desperately attempting to have the government establish a church, and who are legislating morality, are Social Gospel liberals like those I have mentioned and many more. They think it’s doing Christ’s work to use government powers of taxation to carry out a bureaucratic mission of mercy in the name of Jesus.  If you don’t like the message, take it up with Jesus; he’s the one who taught it.

 

Exposition

Jesus was asked by some desiring to trap him, “Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?  But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, ‘show me a denarius.  Whose likeness and inscription does it have?’  They said, ‘Caesar’s.’  He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.”  Luke 20:22-26

This story provides a clear theology for the church.  There is a God realm with its authority, and responsibilities to the members of the church; and there is a Caesar realm with its authority and responsibilities to all the citizens of the state; and these are not the same authorities nor are they the same responsibilities; and they must never be confused.

Further, it is the clear teaching of Jesus that as his followers, we have one set of responsibilities to the God realm with its authority; and a difference set of responsibilities to the Caesar realm with its authority.

Therefore Christian theology requires us to understand that Jesus was teaching that those who would be His disciples are required to give to the state what belongs to the state as a condition of being a disciple of Jesus.  This is stunning:  The Founder of Christianity requires his followers to acknowledge and obey the civil authority we live under as a spiritual service; and this is a condition of our good standing before God.  His statement, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” is an imperative; it is a command not a suggestion.  Failure to do this is to fail in our moral obedience to Christ.  There is nothing like this in any other religion in the world:  Jesus himself recognized his own obligation to obey the authority of the state unless doing so would lead to disobedience toward God.  (Matthew 17:24-27)

We know that paying taxes even to a leader who believes himself to be a god is required for Christians because this was the condition during much of the Roman Empire during the early days of Christianity.  (c.f. Romans 13:1-7 written in AD 57.  Nero was Emperor from October 13, AD 54 to June 11, AD 68, and Nero followed the example of Caligula in proclaiming himself a god.)  But we also know that when there is a clear conflict between a divine command and a human command, we are to obey the divine command, defy the civil authority, and then be prepared to pay the price of disobedience.  (Acts 5:29-30)  We do this because we are commanded to fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell rather than the civil authority who can only kill the body.  (Matthew 10:28)

Authorities Created by God

There are three earthly realms of authority created by God in the Bible, the family, the church, and the government.  Each of these realms of authority has responsibilities and powers.  The authority and power belonging to one do not and cannot belong to another.  Below, I will expand on the concept, but as examples; the power to carry out punishment for crimes belongs to the state and cannot belong to the family or the church; spiritual authority and discipline belongs to the church, not to the government.

Family

Let us mention first that God created the family.  We see his observation in Genesis that it is not good for man to live alone (Genesis 2:18) and so God created Eve as Adam’s equal. (Genesis 2:21-23)  Then we see God making the first statement about family in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

This is not a complete treatment of the authorities and responsibilities of families, but let us note some of them:

        Authority:

  • Parents should teach their children about spiritual things. (Eph. 6:4; see also, Prov. 22:6; Deut. 4:9, 10; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15)
  • Parents are to discipline their children so they act responsibly. (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Responsibilities:

  • Mutual submission between husband and wife. (Ephesians 5:21, 25-33)
  • A husband should see that the family is provided for. (1Timothy 5:8)
  • Wives should love their husband and their children. (Titus 2:4)
  • Parents must not provoke their children to anger. (Eph. 6:4)
  • Children must obey their parents. (Eph. 6:1)
  • Children must respect their parents. (Eph. 6:2, 3; Proverbs 6:20)

Church

Since we live in times subsequent to the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, I will address the church created by Christ, not the Old Testament Jewish economy.  It is important to know that Jesus Christ founded the church; it is not and cannot be the creation of anyone or anything else.  (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:11-22)  Jesus chose its founding members and leaders.  (Luke 5)  Jesus taught them about the nature of his church (Matthew 5, 6, 7; et al.)  Jesus commissioned the work they were to do.  (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15, 16)  Any church or religion not founded by Jesus is false.  (John 3:36; 1John 5:11, 12; John 14:6; John 10:1-10)  Jesus remains in the midst of his church, (Revelation 1:10-13) and has promised to remain with us throughout all ages.  (Matthew 28:19, 20)  There can be no doubt that the only true church is founded by Jesus; and is that church in which Jesus remains.  This will be true so long as the church obeys the commands of Jesus.

Again this is by no means an exhaustive list of the powers and responsibilities of the church, but it will give some shape to our discussion.  The church has the power to:

         Authority:

  • Preach the gospel to every person and baptize those who convert. (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47)
  • Exercise spiritual authority within the church in all things.  (Matthew 16:19

 Responsibilities:

  • Serve the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of Christ’s death. (1Corinthians 11:23-26)
  • Ordain the various ministers of the church. (Acts 6:1-6; Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23; 2Corinthians 8:19)
  • Discipline members of the church with teaching and admonition when correction is necessary. (Matthew 18:15-17; 1Corinthians 5:1-13; 2Timothy 4:1-5; 1Thessalonians 5:11 and others)
  • Examine those would work in the church. (1Thessalonians 5:12)
  • Set, and ensure that the qualifications of ministers are kept. (1Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)
  • Care for the poor who are part of the Church. (Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 6:1-6; Romans 15:25-27; Acts 9:36 Acts 20:34, 35; 1Timothy 5:16, 6:18; James 1:27; 1Corinthians 16:1, 2)
  • Retain the unity of the spirit until we all come into the unity of the faith.  (Ephesians 4:3)

 

Government

God demanded an order for civil conduct first in Genesis 9:6.  Then we see that God gave The Law to accomplish the rules for worship, but also regulations regarding marriage, children, personal conduct, hygiene, and more.  (Exodus 19-31, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy)  As history moves forward, God gave Israel a series of Kings to execute the legitimate powers of government – Saul, David, Solomon.  Then in the New Testament Jesus commanded his followers to obey the civil authorities – Luke 20:22-26 – and Paul addressed Christian obedience to civil authorities in Romans 13.

         Authority of Government over Citizens:

  • The civil authority has authority from God to mete out punishment to violators of the law.  (Romans 13:4, 5)

Responsibilities of Government to Citizens:

  • Civil authorities are constituted to do what is good not bad.  (Romans 13:3)
  • Civil authorities must exert their power treating every person equally.  (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17)
  • Civil authorities must preserve the maxim that every person – even heads of state – are under the law; the law is supreme, no person is exempt.  (2 Samuel 12)
  • Civil authorities must not abuse their God-given authority to demand that Christians disobey God.  (Acts 5:28, 29)

Responsibilities of Christians to Government:

  • Christians are to obey the governing authorities, because no authority exists unless it is from God.  (Romans 13:1)
  • Christians who resist civil authority will incur judgment.  (Romans 13:3)
  • Christians are to pay taxes owed to civil authorities.  (Romans 13:6, 7; Luke 20:22-26; Matthew 17:24-27)
  • When obedience to the civil authority means disobeying God, Christians must obey God and defy the civil authority.  (Matthew 2:12; Acts 5:29)
  • Resistance against authorities is resistance against what God has instituted (Romans 13:2)

Blurring the Kingdom of God with the kingdoms of this world

Both the elements of the Catholic Church involved in the Inquisition; and the liberal, Social Justice, Social Gospel liberal crowd of our time fail in their obedience to this basic theology of obedience that Jesus clearly taught.

The Inquisitors

The Inquisitors became so motivated to retain the purity of the gospel they were willing to completely disregard the teaching of Jesus that the church has different authority and responsibilities than the state.  The result was that they obliterated the distinction between the two realms, confused the purview of each, and engaged in widespread, long-term disobedience to God.

Apparently they thought that preventing heresy from metastasizing in the church was so important that they could completely ignore the teaching of Jesus on the subject as well as Apostolic history.  First, any Christian knows that the church can not engage in capital punishment – there is no ordination of it whatsoever in the New Testament; no example of it in apostolic history.  Every example given among the Apostles having to deal with heresy in the scriptures is one of persuasion not coercion.  There is no example of leaders of the church engaging in any kind of corporeal punishment.

Example: Corinth

When Paul wrote to the Greek Christians in Corinth in First Corinthians he had to correct a serious moral problem brought on by doctrinal heterodoxy.  The leaders of the Christian community in Corinth apparently believed that they should be so tolerant of sin that they should applaud themselves for tolerating a man who was sleeping with his stepmother (or perhaps even his own mother.)  (1Corinthians 5:1)  The church leaders responded to this situation by approving it; and they were so proud of themselves they became arrogant and were bragging about it. (1Corinthians 5:2, 8)  Yet there is no mention at all of physical punishment for the offender or the leaders who approved his sin.  No mention of an inquisition to find out how far the heresy had penetrated the church.

Example: Thessalonica

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians how had become convinced that the resurrection was already past.  (1Thess. 4:13-18) This is not an orthodox view, but what was Paul’s response to them? Write a letter teaching them the correct doctrine.  Again, there is no mention of any inquisition; no mention of torture to get to the truth.

Example: Galatia

Paul wrote to the Galatians who considering returning to certain practices of Judaism thinking that circumcision conferred some kind of sanctity.  For a Jewish Christian to return to keeping the Law for justification before God means that they consider the blood of Jesus and his vicarious death for them is insufficient.  This is certainly a blasphemy.  But what was Paul’s response to the Christians of Galatia: an Inquisition engaging in torture if necessary to force confession?  Of course not, the great Apostle wrote and corrected their heresy.

It is important to note that this heresy was adhered to by Paul’s longtime friend Barnabas, and even the Apostle Peter.  (Galatians 2:11-21)  What is the response of the church to a heresy:  admonition, correction, and reason; not corporal punishment, trials, torture and the like.

In addition, Paul said for Christians to keep the unity of the spirit until we reach a unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:3) giving us a model of how to treat another Christian with whom you disagree.

The Inquisitors ignored these facts:

  • Jesus taught that the role of the state is a different role from that of the church, and these roles should never be blurred.
  • New Testament history shows how the Apostles handled heretical dispositions when they occurred, and the response was always admonition, correction and reason; never trials, torture, fines, incarceration, or burning at the stake.

What the Catholic Church did during the inquisitions in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France was a horrible aberration and a serious departure from the theology of the New Testament; and was wholly without Divine support, or biblical precedent.  Having said that, there were many Catholics as well as Priests, Bishops, and even Archbishops who disagreed with what was going on.  At times, even Popes were against certain actions taken by the Inquisitors but were powerless to stop them.

Promoters of Social Justice/Social Gospel

What today is called “Social Justice” is espoused by most mainline Protestant churches, and much of the American Catholic Church as well

Unraveling “Social Justice” – Kobe Bryant and Me

What those who use the term “Social Justice” mean must to be analyzed.  First, it is not about any kind of justice you are familiar with.  Social Justice as its proponents see it can be illustrated in this way:  if I am to play basketball one-on-one with Kobe Bryant, a “just game” is not that we both play by the same rules on a regulation court; that each of us has the same number of timeouts, the referees call the game fairly, and so on.  That kind of fairness is not at all what the Social Justice, Social Gospel crowd have in mind.

A game like that can’t be fair in their view because Kobe Bryant will block all my shots, and score every time he shoots the ball.  That would happen because Kobe and I are not equal in our abilities.

The rules are the same for both of us, the referees call the game equally, and most of us would say under any concept of real justice it is fair that Kobe scores all the points and blocks all my shots if he can do so.  We would say that because he is just that much better than me; that the rules were equally applied, and that I should never consider a career in basketball.  We both had “equal opportunity,” but the game was completely one-sided.

Adherents of Social Justice, and the Social Gospel would see the game differently.  They do not consider “equal opportunity” to consist of equal rules for everybody, because if we follow that path, some of us can’t compete with the big dogs.  Social Justice isn’t about “equal opportunity” (although it uses that term to mislead).  It considers the game between Kobe Bryant and me as inherently unjust because Kobe is taller than me, his hands are bigger, his arms are longer, he can jump higher, he is faster, he has much more training, and so forth.  The disadvantages I have are not of my doing because: I was born this way.

Social Justice, Social Gospel adherents see my inability to excel at basketball as “injustice.”  The fact that I was not born tall, fast, and so on, are disadvantages that must be corrected or society is not just.  Social Justice seeks to provide me with more than equal opportunity; it seeks to give me an equal result.  An equal result cannot occur unless the government rigs that game.

To continue the basketball metaphor, if adherents of Social Justice were to correct the disparity between Kobe and me, they could fudge in a number of ways.  They could require that I get to play unmolested by Kobe’s defensive moves – I get a clear path to the basket.  Perhaps I need to be spotted bunch of points before the game begins; or the scorekeeper could give me 20 points for each basket I score against his 2 point baskets, and so on.  Only if we have an equal chance to score the same number of points would such a game be considered socially just by the levelers – the Social Justice, Social Gospel liberals of our day.

Those who espouse Social Justice deny that equality of opportunity in a formal legal way is just; they say that this is not genuine equality.  John Rawls one of their champions writes that “undeserved inequalities call for redress.”  He is a philosopher and writes like one; but what this means is that any limitations I have as a consequence of birth or even disposition that prevent me from doing as well as any other person in any pursuit demand that I be given an advantage.  They don’t really apply their theories to basketball; they apply it only to the economic sphere.

As an example, the New Haven, Connecticut Fire Department had 15 positions open for advancement in the department.  There were 118 people who took the test including 27 blacks; but no blacks and only two Hispanics passed the test.  The city knew that if only white guys were promoted, the black firefighters would have standing to sue, and the city would be sued for because of an “adverse impact” (the best guys won) on minorities; so it threw the test out.

Of course this was a Hobbesian choice for the city because on the other hand, if they throw out the test, the white guys who qualified would file suit saying that they were being discriminated against (which they were) so the city had no real choice but to make a decision and be prepared to defend itself in court.

They did throw out the test, and the guys who passed the test filed suit.  In court, Sonia Sotomayor (now a member of the U.S. Supreme Court) ruled against the white firefighters and in favor or throwing out the test because she believes in Social Justice, not real justice.  It is her opinion that members of one group must be discriminated against if they outperform the members of a different group.  Lew and Kobe in a tie game!  This is how justice is turned into injustice.  (Her decision was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I mention all this about Social Justice and Social Gospel because the motivation for many who adhere to this game – like the Clintons, the Obamas, the Catholic Bishops, most United Methodists, most Presbyterians; people like Jeremiah Wright, American Friends Service Committee, Catholics and protestants promoting liberation theology or black liberation theology who are followers of Karl Marx rather than Jesus Christ; and many others promote this as an extension of the Gospel of the New Testament; or worse, they say this is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

They always use the language or morality to describe what they do, and the language of immorality to describe what everyone else does.  They frequently invoke the language of Jesus to promote their heresy.

The originator of the Social Gospel, Walter Rauschenbusch promoted progressivism – the “Social Gospel” (today’s “Social Justice”) because as he understood it, the Gospel, the mission of the church, was to make the world in general more godly.  In his book, “Christianizing the Social Order,” Rauschenbusch said, “To concentrate our efforts on personal salvation, as orthodoxy has done, or on soul culture, as liberalism has done, comes close to refined selfishness…Our religious individuality must get its interpretation from the supreme fact of social solidarity.”

What he said was that for the church to focus on personal salvation is “refined selfishness;” that our religious, individual salvation must be interpreted only within the confines of the social group!  Here’s a guy who undertakes to correct Jesus with regard to the gospel.  For any student of the New Testament, Rauschenbusch must be considered a heretic, because he taught a much different gospel than that taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles.  (Galatians 1:9)

The Social Gospel has been described as “the application of the teaching of Jesus and the total message of Christian salvation to society, the economic life, and social institutions…as well as to individuals.”  Here, individual salvation is an afterthought.  Jesus weeps again.

Conclusion

Christians who promote the leveling of economic status coercively plundering the wealth of some to give it to others because they think that’s what Jesus taught are heretics; those who promote it who are not Christians are communists.  Either way, they should just be honest about it.

Erasing the boundary Jesus set between the responsibility of the church and the responsibility of the state always leads to heresy on the part of the church.  We must never let the state assume to name our pastors and bishops, we must never let the state define the limits of what we preach; and we must never use Christianity to promote the state as the enabler of elements of the Gospel of Christ.  To preach this is “another gospel,” and those who preach it are to be “accursed.”  (Galatians 1:8)  Those who seek to persuade us that we should take our eyes off Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) and focus them on the state as the instrument of God to carry out the Gospel must be denounced, resisted, and opposed.  If they hold office, they must be removed.