Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dear Brother Pastor: Dare To Be A Micaiah

by Pastor Chuck Baldwin
October 24, 2006

Today's column is a heart-felt appeal to my pastor-brethren. If there was ever a time when God's men in America needed to stand independently and courageously for that which is right, it is now. And if we, the pastors and preachers of America, will not stand for what is right, how can anyone else be expected to stand? Specifically, are we God's men, or have we become the lackeys for powerful politicians? I fear that in far too many instances, it is the latter.

Throughout history, God's true champions were stalwart, independent men. Men who could not be bought or bribed. Men who chose the life of unpopularity or even prison rather than kowtowing to kings or potentates. Men such as the Old Testament prophet Micaiah.

We all remember the story of Micaiah, don't we? Micaiah was the prophet who warned Ahab and Jehoshaphat regarding their imminent battle at Ramoth-gilead recorded for us in II Chronicles chapter 18.

What fascinates me about the story of Micaiah is that all the rest of the prophets, some 400 of them, said only what the king wanted to hear. Not one of them was willing to speak the truth. Not one of them was willing to defy the king's wishes. Not one of them was willing to put their allegiance to God above their friendship with the king. Then Micaiah entered the story.

Micaiah stood boldly before the king of Judah and the king of Israel and courageously told the truth. He did not try to curry favor with the king. He did not try to ingratiate himself with the king. He courageously spoke truth to power. And, as one might expect, he was not rewarded for it-at least not in this life. In spite of this, Micaiah stood as a true champion of God. A man among men. God's man.

Where are the Micaiahs today? Especially among our national Christian leaders, where is Micaiah?

It seems that many of our pastors and Christian leaders today are far more interested in not offending the powers that be than they are in speaking the uncompromising message of truth. This is especially true if the political power has an "R" behind his name. It doesn't seem to matter to a tinker's dam whether that man promotes policies that expand abortion-on-demand, that further legitimize aberrant sexual lifestyles, that leave our borders open to terrorists, that eviscerate constitutional freedoms, or that explode the size and scope of the federal government. Because he is a Republican, he is "good" and must not be opposed.

In such a case, have we preachers not become glorified politicians? Have we not become the servants of men?

In the story of Micaiah, it was both the "good" king Jehoshophat and the "evil" king Ahab that had made the decision to disobey God and imperil the lives of their countrymen. Both the "good" king and the "evil" king needed to hear the truth. And while they heard it not from the rest of Israel's prophets, they heard the truth from Micaiah. Both men heard the truth from Micaiah.

Whether a president, senator, or congressman is a "good" Republican or an "evil" Democrat, they need to hear a consistent message of truth from God's preachers. Our political leaders (of both parties) need to be held accountable for their misdeeds, their erroneous policies, and their unconstitutional decisions. If today's pastors would be as concerned about speaking the truth as they are about who is being elected and about not offending Republicans, our country would be much better off. Much better.

I dare say that if Al Gore or John Kerry had been elected President, they would not have been allowed to do half of what George W. Bush has gotten away with, because pastors and Christian leaders of every stripe would have shouted their disapproval from the housetops. But because Mr. Bush has an "R" behind his name, those same pastors and Christian leaders sit fat and happy-and silent. The result: George W. Bush has inflicted more lasting harm on America than Bill Clinton ever thought about inflicting. That's not an affront to George W. Bush, nor is it praise for Bill Clinton. It's an indictment upon America's pulpits.

There is another element to this discussion, one that almost everyone seems to have forgotten. When the Jewish leaders brought accusation against Jesus to Pilate, do you remember what their charge was? It was, "If you don't crucify Jesus, you are not a friend to Caesar, because Jesus is not a friend to Caesar." The fear that Pilate might be regarded as unfriendly to Caesar and that Jesus was already regarded as not being a friend to Caesar caused Pilate to consent to Jesus' death.

Forget that Caesar had enslaved the Jewish people. Forget that he was their oppressor. Forget that they labored under the heavy hand of Caesar's tyranny and taxation. They, the Jewish leaders, had formed a friendly alliance with Caesar, an alliance from which they personally greatly benefited. Therefore, they would let no one, not even their Messiah and Savior, jeopardize their friendship with Caesar.

It grieves me deeply to report that, in my estimation, this desire to be Caesar's friend has eclipsed the willingness of many of today's pastors and preachers to speak the truth. More than that, they even seem willing to join those forces that seek to silence anyone who dares challenge Caesar. Once again, especially if Caesar has an "R" behind his name.

We preachers must remain independent from the fetters of the desire for popularity or political approval. We must not give in to the temptation to become glorified politicians. As preachers, we have but one task: preach the truth, stand for the truth, and defend the truth. Whether the truth hurts Democrats or Republicans should not concern us. Whether we are considered "friends" to presidents should not matter. Who knows how Israel's history might have been changed for the better if those 400 prophets had followed Micaiah's example and not groveled before Ahab. Who knows how Germany's history might have been changed for the better if that nation's 14,000 pastors had followed the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and not groveled before Hitler.

By the same token, America's future will be largely determined by which example today's pastors and preachers decide to follow. Dear brother pastor: dare to be a Micaiah.

© Chuck Baldwin

This article is available at

Tyranny and lawlessness: Can God ordain that which He hates?

Many Christians use Romans 13:1-7 as a proof text for the notion that it is God who brings bloodthirsty tyrants, brutal dictators, and oppressive regimes to power. Yet nowhere do these particular words appear in the actual text. On the contrary, the passage sets forth the proper role of government as a ministry of justice, instituted by God for the punishment of the wicked and the protection and praise of good citizens. If rulers are supposed to be God’s servants, it makes no sense to believe that so-called “authorities” which are in rebellion against Him were established by Him.

Romans 13 does not grant rulers open-ended powers to commit murder and mayhem. It does not validate governments which break the law or engage in acts that God hates—destroying innocent human life, showing partiality to the wicked or denying justice to the poor. When a civil government oppresses good people and fails to punish evil, it is no longer “God's servant to do you good. . . an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Rather, it is an abomination that is operating in complete opposition to the Lord and His good purposes. “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 17:15, NKJ).

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 warns of a coming “Man of Lawlessness” who will proclaim himself to be God. Likewise, the prophet Daniel describes a future king who will seize power through intrigue (11:21). This usurper “will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods” (11:36, NIV). If we accept the idea that every person who happens to sit on a throne—no matter how depraved, blasphemous or violent—derives his power from God, then we are saying He is the author of evil and lawless governments. We are saying that He ordains rulers who would blaspheme Him and set themselves above Him—that He would bring into existence that which He hates.

Tyranny is essentially lawlessness. The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines a tyrant as a ruler “unrestrained by law; a usurper of sovereignty.” Since God is our Lawgiver, He cannot be the author of lawlessness. If the purpose of government is to promote law and order in society, it follows that God would not ordain a government that openly flouts His laws by committing evil and bloodshed against innocent people.

At a time when most of earth’s inhabitants were oppressed by ruthless kings and pharaohs, the Law of Moses set forth the radical idea that all people—including rulers—are subject to the laws of God ( “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens” (Exodus 18:21). Based on this verse, rulers are required to meet God’s standards of righteousness and justice.

As Pastor Weaver writes in The Christian and Civil Government,
“The jurisdiction, the authority and the power of God have no limits. But every delegated authority has certain limits. The power of God is infinite. The authority that God delegates is finite, it is limited; it is confined. There is absolutely no boundary to God’s authority, but there are boundaries to the delegated authority of man. God alone is sovereign. All kings, all princes, all governments are His vassals, His delegates.” Therefore, “every authority that exists is accountable and answerable to God” (4-5).

In the Book of Revelation, Satan is depicted as a “dragon” who “gave the beast [i.e., the antichrist] his power and his throne and great authority. . . Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast” (13:2-4, NIV). The beast also “was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation” (7).

According to these verses, who gave authority to the beast? Clearly it wasn’t God; it was Satan, the ultimate tyrant and usurper. For Christians who believe that God establishes every so-called government that will ever exist, this passage should create quite a quandary.

Satan attempted to overthrow the Lord’s sovereignty by force. It did not end well for him. He was cast out of heaven and will ultimately be thrown into the lake of fire.

Likewise, “The righteous ruler, not the tyrant, will remain in power. A tyrant will inevitably face the danger of rebellion and even assassination. A righteous administration, on the other hand, pleases the people and God, who preserves it” (From the NIV Bible Concordance).

Friday, October 13, 2006

God is not a monster: the purpose of civil government

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”—Genesis 1:31

“For everything God created is good” (1 Timothy 4:4).

If everything God made is good, then logically it follows that He cannot be the author of evil. And if God cannot be the author of evil, how is it possible that He would purposefully establish evil governments or install wicked leaders into office?

The answer, I believe, is that He doesn’t.

The first biblical reference to earthly government occurs in Genesis 9:5-6: “And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.”

Here we see that the purpose of government is to punish evil acts of aggression against innocent persons. Romans 13 reiterates the God-ordained role of government as a minister of justice:

“For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (vv. 3-4).

Likewise, 1 Peter 2:13 defines rulers as those “who are sent by [God] to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”

By its definition, then, civil government was created as God’s minister to serve humanity: to restrain evil by punishing criminals and to protect/commend law-abiding citizens. It was never intended to be used for evil or to hurt people. Bible commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “In the general course of human affairs, rulers are not a terror to honest, quiet, and good subjects, but to evildoers. Such is the power of sin and corruption, that many will be kept back from crimes only by the fear of punishment.”

“God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates … for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and the encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers”(Lex Rex, A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants, in “Of the Civil Magistrate”).

Since government was instituted by God to uphold justice, it seems logical to conclude that governments which abuse their powers and commit injustice are not ordained of God. Once a government ceases fulfilling its God-ordained mandate to be a minister of justice, it is no longer of God, because it is in rebellion against Him.

Indeed, a careful reading of Romans 13 reveals that while God ordained the institution of government, not all governments are ordained of God. This is especially apparent in the NIV Bible, which translates Romans 13:1 as: “…there is no authority except that which God has established” (emphasis mine). In other words, the only legitimate authorities are those that have been instituted by God, that is, those who uphold justice and defend the innocent from aggression.

For those who insist on believing that a righteous God would raise up tyrants such as Nero, Caligula, Oliver Cromwell, Mao Tze Tung, Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein, let’s take a look at Hosea 8:4:

“They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval.”

This verse clearly states that not everyone who happens to sit on a throne—or in the Oval Office—was put in that position by God. There is a vast difference between duly constituted authority, which is established by God, and power that has been gained illegitimately, or usurped. Tyrants always operate outside the law and see themselves as being above the law, including God's Law. In fact, one of the definitions of a tyrant in Merriam-Webster is "a ruler unrestrained by law…"

The God who sent His precious Son to die for me is not a monster. He is completely good, kind, loving, and just. If God put bloodthirsty dictators into power, it would make Him the author of evil. This is not only heresy—it is also blasphemy.

What of verses which appear to state that God raises up all political leaders, regardless of how corrupt and degenerate they are? Let’s look at some of these passages.

“By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, and even all the judges of the earth” (Proverbs 8:15-16).

“No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another” (Psalm 75:6-7).

“He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them” (Daniel 2:21).

At first glance, we might conclude that these Scriptures are saying that anyone who happens to be in political office was specifically placed in that position by the Lord. But, taken in context with Romans 13 and related passages, what they are really saying is that all legitimate authority is derived from God. As Pastor John Weaver writes in The Christian and Civil Government, “If God does not give an individual authority, then he does not have any authority” (p. 4). It is God who puts rulers in power, but just because someone claims to be in charge does not mean he has received any real authority from God.

Think of it this way: if someone other than your boss started ordering you around, would that mean this person had legitimate authority to do so? When the Nazis were sending men, women and children to the gas chambers, were they acting under God’s authority?

I think the answer is obvious.

Relevant Scriptures:

“The God of Israel said, ‘…He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:2-3, NKJ).

The queen of Sheba to King Solomon: “Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness” (1 Kings 10:8-9).

“It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, For a throne is established by righteousness” (Proverbs 16:12, NKJ).

“Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law, have fellowship with you? They gather against the life of the righteous, and condemn innocent blood. But the Lord has been our defense … He has brought on them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; the Lord shall cut them off” (Psalm 94: 20-30).

“‘Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD, she does not draw near to her God. Her officials are roaring lions; her rulers are ravening wolves, who leave nothing for the morning. . . The LORD within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame’” (Zephaniah 3:1-5).

“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless” (Isaiah 10:1-4).
“The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of the people: “It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty” (Isaiah 3:10-15).

Recommended reading:

The Christian and Civil Government, by Pastor John Weaver

A Christian Manifesto, by Francis Schaeffer

Lex, Rex: A Dispute for the Just Prerogative of King and People, by Rev. Samuel Rutherford (also known as The Law and the Prince)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Pol Pot: Ordained of God?

This question inevitably came to mind as I was pondering my answer to a question posed in the blog Under the Crimson Line.

Ever since I can remember, I have abhorred government tyranny. Perhaps this is related to my father’s description of his childhood in Nazi Germany, where my grandmother kept their Jewish ancestry a closely guarded secret—or so she thought. At the end of World War II, she learned that their names were on a list of people who were next in line for a concentration camp.

After I became an evangelical Christian, I was startled to hear fellow believers say that God places all political leaders in power—even those who slaughter millions of innocent people. Because of my family history and passion for justice, I struggled with the idea that whoever wields a nation’s military might was appointed by God. I couldn’t understand how a perfect, holy, and righteous Lord would appoint rulers who would govern contrary to His laws and destroy those who were created in His image.

In the past century, nearly 170 million innocent civilians were murdered by their own governments (Death by Government, R. J. Rummel). In many countries, Christians are suffering unspeakable cruelty at the hands of political leaders. Is this ordained of God? Since God is completely good, fair, and just, what are we to make of Scriptures—such as Exodus 9:16 and Habakkuk 1:6—which appear to indicate that He raises up tyrants and mass murderers to rule over nations? What of Romans 13:1, which seems to suggest that anyone who happens to be in power, no matter how ruthless, sadistic, or wicked, is “God’s man for this hour”? How can we explain this to people who have endured degradation, brutality, torture, and rape at the hands of their rulers? Will we reach them with the love of God by telling them that He is the author of evil in the political realm?

For nearly fifteen years, I asked God for answers. I have spoken with pastors, Bible study teachers, a military chaplain, elected officials, government agents, and police officers, asking for their insights into this issue. I have read the heartbreaking stories of people who have suffered horrible injustices at the hands of their governments—until I could hardly stand to read more. Most importantly, I have cried out to my Savior, asking Him to show me the truth in His Word and through His Holy Spirit.

In upcoming posts, I will share some of what I’ve learned as I sought God’s heart about the purpose of civil government.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Columbus the Christ-bearer

The following article was written by Tom Flannery on October 9, 2006 in World Net Daily.

"Columbus discovered America by prophecy rather than by astronomy," the New Encyclopedia Britannica quite accurately explains.

It was, after all, the Holy Bible that convinced Columbus beyond any shadow of a doubt that the earth is round. Some 800 years before Christ's incarnation (and more than 2,200 years before Columbus' own birth), the prophet Isaiah had written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: "It is He [God] who sits above the circle of the earth. ..." (Isaiah 40:22, emphasis mine)

Columbus, whom we honor in the United States today, may not have had a great deal of schooling when he first read this verse of Scripture, but he understood basic geometry well enough to realize that a circle, any way you looked at it, had to be round.

"Let God be true, but every man a liar," the Bible declares in Romans 3:4, and Columbus felt called by God to prove to the world that man had miscalculated and that God's Word had been true all along. The earth was a circumference!

Because he was unlearned and untried at sea, Columbus sought God's blessing and anointing for the mission.

"I prayed to the most merciful Lord about my heart's great desire," Columbus wrote, "and He gave me the spirit and the intelligence for the task: seafaring, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, skill in drafting spherical maps and the placing correctly of cities, rivers, mountains and ports. I also studied cosmology, history, chronology and philosophy."

His mission began when a ship that he was serving aboard was sunk in a battle off Cape St. Vincent in 1476 and he alone survived by swimming all the way to Portugal with only an oar to help him, eventually coming ashore (of all places) near one of the world's great academies for would-be sailors.

As the New Encyclopedia Britannica notes: "His arrival in Portugal, miraculously saved from the wreck ... and his landing so close to the rock of Sagres, where Prince Henry the Navigator had established his academy of seamanship, seem to justify his sense of having been chosen." So, too, did his first name, Christopher, which means "Christ-bearer."

It was in Portugal that Columbus first presented his proposal to sail west to the Indies, an idea that brought him little more than scorn and derision. As he later wrote: "It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because He comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures ... encouraging me continually to press forward."

Columbus moved on to Spain, where he was granted an audience with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1485. They decided to establish a special commission of "learned men and mariners" to study the proposal, which the commission ultimately rejected in 1490 as impossible.

In his "Book of Prophecies," Columbus recounted: "I spent seven years in the royal court, discussing the matter with many persons of great reputation and wisdom in all the arts, and in the end they concluded that it was all foolishness, so they gave it up."

However, Columbus held to the promises of God being fulfilled "from everlasting to everlasting" without fail, continuing: "In support of this, I offer the Gospel text Matthew 24:35, in which Jesus said that all things would pass away, but not His marvelous Word. He also affirmed that it was necessary that all things be fulfilled that were prophesied by Himself and by the prophets."

In 1492, the unwavering faith of Columbus was rewarded. He was recalled before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and his journey to the Indies was approved. The rest, as they say, is history.

Although best remembered for discovering America, it should also be remembered that Columbus' life was one filled with great accomplishments.

He discovered the best way to make use of the North Atlantic wind system for transatlantic sailing, began the European settlement of the West Indies, discovered the continental coast of South America, and explored the western Caribbean and revealed its landlocked outline.

Most importantly, he founded the land upon which God established a republic based on the biblical principles contained in our Declaration of Independence (where all people are endowed by the Creator with unalienable rights), a country which has evangelized the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ over the past two centuries. As it turned out, Columbus the "Christ-bearer" discovered a nation that would in time bear (bring) Christ to all nations.

And whereas many politically correct "history" textbooks produced in recent years portray him as a man consumed by his own ego and driven by personal ambition, that's not what you find in Columbus' own writings.

In his own words: "I am a most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous presence.

"The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by our Lord, but it all happens according to His sovereign will. ... Oh what a gracious Lord who desires that people should perform from Him those things which He holds Himself responsible!

"Day and night, moment by moment, everyone should express to Him their most devoted gratitude."

Click here for the URL.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Getting caught in a lie

Apparently, it is difficult for some elected officials to recognize when they have told a lie. Click
and here for more details on the Foley scandal and what appears to have been a cover-up.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Where is the outrage?

When NBC plans a program involving Madonna wearing a crown of thorns, the Religious Right sends a million e-mails to the network demanding that the show be canceled. But when it is reported that a Republican congressman has tried to seduce teenage boys, the Religious Right isn't nearly as indignant--not even when it becomes public knowledge that the Republican Speaker of the House knew about this conduct for three years and did nothing.

Where is the outrage?

I plan to blog about this in more depth at a later date but thought I'd throw this out now as fodder for discussion.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The injustice of illegal immigration

Illegal immigration is a hot-button issue for many people on both sides of the debate, but what does the Bible say about it? Would Jesus tell us to flout our nation’s immigration laws in order to love our neighbors on the other side of the border? Do Old Testament prohibitions against mistreating aliens require our government to welcome every foreigner who wants to live here? How do immigrants who come here legally feel about rewarding those who break the rules to enter our country? What about American citizens who have lost their jobs to illegal immigrants? Should we deny justice to our own citizens in order to show compassion to those who are here illegally?

Christianity Today addressed several of these questions in a recent article by James Edwards: "Seeking Biblical Principles to Inform Immigration Policy.” Click here for the full text.