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Over the years I've become increasingly concerned with one tactic of some well-intentioned ambassadors for Christ: leading a person in the "sinner's prayer." It can be meaningful, but it has a liability. The prayer goes something like this: “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins so I could be forgiven. I receive You as my Lord and savior. Thank You for coming into my life. Amen.”
Everyone has a crutch. Will yours hold you up? When people ask me, “Isn’t Christ just a crutch?” I have a simple reply. I tell them, “You’re right. Christ is a crutch. But you’ve asked the wrong question.” No one makes fun of a lame person who uses a crutch. So the real question is, “Am I lame; am I crippled?” because crippled people need crutches.
The identity of Jesus' executioners is irrelevant to Christian dogma. What's critical to dogma is that Jesus truly died and was raised, not that any particular group was responsible for His death. Indeed, from the perspective of theologyall men were responsible for the death of Christ because all sinned, and this the New Testament is very clear on.
The way the relationship between politics and Christianity is discussed in the media almost always irritates me. Often an individual is identified as an evangelical leader who speaks for Christians - and I've never heard of him. Christian political opinion is usually inaccurately portrayed as a monolith. Now, Protestant orthodoxy is a monolith defined by the ecumenical creeds; but as we begin to work out the implications of our faith in the world we start to diverge, and that's certainly true when it comes to politics.
If you vote for a pro-abortion candidate for personal reasons (like economics) that are not more weighty than justice concerns (the wholesale destruction of children), then you are doing something profoundly un-Christian. If this happens often enough, you are either not a Christian or your Christianity completely fails to inform your political life. One wonders if it informs any other aspect of your life as well, and if it doesn't, then by what right do you call yourself a Christian?
I understand that prayers at events like these can be controversial. The pressure is great to offer an invocation that everyone will be comfortable with. But since there’s a large diversity of beliefs—and non-beliefs—here, I realize that simply isn’t possible. Therefore, since I have been asked to offer the prayer this morning, and since I am a Christian, I will pray in a way that is consistent with my conscience. You are welcome to enter in if you like, or simply quietly wait for me to finish, as you wish.
It’s not only the left that expresses alarm when Christians jeopardize the “separation” between church and state when they stir from their slumber and begin to make a difference in the public square. Some Believers object, too. One Evangelical leader offered this stern warning: “There should not be even a hint of anything political in our public discourse.”
All Justices of the Supreme Court pledge fidelity to the Constitution with these words: I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. It occurs to me that no one with a “living document” view of the U.S. Constitution could make this pledge in good conscience. This oath requires that the words of the Constitution have determinate meaning; the words mean something fixed and particular.
Did you ever hear someone say, “You think God is on your side. He thinks God is on his side. You’re both wrong. God doesn’t take sides.” This, it turns out, is a self-refuting view. Listen to the way it works out in conversation: “You think God is on your side. He thinks God is on his side. You’re both wrong. God doesn’t take sides.” “Is that the view you hold?” “Yes.”
When people ask me if I believe in separation of church and state, I always say no. I believe in non-establishment. Here’s why. On January 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, in which he used the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state.” His note was meant to quell the fears of the Danbury congregation who were concerned that a national denomination would be established. Here is the text in question: