Issue #149 -------
September 23, 2004
Upon this battle depends the survival of
Christian civilization. ... If we fail, then
all that we have known and cared for
will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age.
Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Speech, House of Commons - June 18, 1940
Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) once observed, "Perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart." James talked very bluntly about the dangers of yielding to such perverse passions of the heart and mind, declaring, "Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren!" (James 1:14-16). The apostle Paul spoke of a time, prior to his own spiritual union with Christ Jesus, when he "walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest" (Eph. 2:2-3).
There is tremendous darkness in the world about us; the lost stumble about, engulfed in the countless perversions that are so common to a world given over to sin. The sight sickens those who are spiritually-minded. Lot, for example, when he was rescued from the impending doom that was to befall Sodom and Gomorrah, was "distressed by the unrestrained behavior of the immoral -- for he lived among them, and that righteous man was tormented day by day with the lawless deeds he saw and heard" (2 Peter 2:7-8). Even though such godless behavior sickens us, yet we know intellectually that such is the nature of "the course of this world" and of the "spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience." It is the nature of the present darkness that surrounds us, therefore it is all the more imperative that we who profess to be the disciples of Jesus Christ seek to "walk in the light as He Himself is in the light" (1 John 1:7), for "what fellowship has light with darkness" (2 Cor. 6:14)? "In Him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). "Therefore, do not become their partners. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light .... Don't participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead, expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret" (Eph. 5:7-8, 11-12).
Yes, it is distressing to behold the pattern of perversion that permeates the darkness in the world about us. But what is even more distressing is witnessing these godless actions and attitudes creep increasingly into Christendom. No part of the One Body, no particular faith-heritage, is exempt from the ravages of this spreading darkness. Yes, it is even being felt within the Church of Christ fellowship. No group or movement or gathering of believers is outside the range of Satan's evil scheming. He has us all in his sights ... and, sadly, he is scoring some direct hits as he fires his flaming arrows of deceit into the midst of God's children.
In this present issue of my weekly Reflections I want to focus on two such efforts to promote perversion and prejudice within Churches of Christ. I will warn the readers now -- some of what you are about to hear will be offensive in the extreme. It will turn your stomach, but, as Paul declared, we must "expose the fruitless works of darkness" (Eph. 5:11). That charge will be carried out in this article as we examine two very different, but equally repulsive, manifestations of the Devil's darkness that have infested the House of God, eating away at this spiritual sanctuary like a swarming nest of termites. In exposing these pernicious doctrines and practices, may we all become aroused to take steps to exterminate them from our midst, sweeping them back into the depths of the darkness from which they came.
The Homosexual "Church of Christ"
In the winter of 1985-86, while serving as the minister for the Church of Christ in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I received a publication in the mail titled "The Holy Kiss." The name, the publishers declared, had come from Romans 16:16, where the apostle Paul had written, "Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you." The group that produced this little publication came from Houston, Texas. They introduced themselves as "Church of Christ Gay Men and Lesbians." The lead article in the tract was titled, "Out of the Sackcloth" by Jimmy Maynard, a graduate of Harding University. These "Gay Christians" were "coming out," and they believed their actions were not in the least shameful; they were abandoning the "sackcloth and ashes" (signs of repentance) and were proudly declaring themselves to be Gay for God. Maynard stated that facing his own sexuality and coming to accept his homosexuality "has drawn me closer to Christ, but caused me to withdraw from the church." He declared that Jesus "feels our pain," and "He does not ask us to be something we cannot be." Thus, Jesus works "through gay people to reveal more about Himself to the church." I literally could not believe what I was reading!
But it got worse ... a whole lot worse. Immediately following Jimmy Maynard's article was the following plea to the church -- "Brecheen and Faulkner's Marriage Enrichment film series can be enhanced with a follow-up by the congregation listening to GOOD SEX with Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Elders, are you listening? Sunday school attendance would soon surpass worship services. Your members would feel great about inviting friends to church." Well, if the point of assembling ourselves together is to learn "good sex," then I suppose they may have a point.
There was a rather lengthy interview recorded in this publication with Lee Harrington, a businessman and gay activist in the Houston area .... and a member of the Church of Christ. He was introduced this way: "Lee Harrington, 44, is a leading businessman of Houston's vast homosexual community. Brother Harrington has held positions on the staff of the Bible Chair at the University of Alabama, he founded the Bible Chair at Michigan State, started a travel business in East Lansing, Michigan and Houston, Texas, and held positions of Vice-President and President of the Gay Political Caucus in Houston." He grew up in Scottsboro, Alabama and was a member of the Broad Street Church of Christ.
In the interview he admitted, "During my tenure at the University of Alabama's Bible Chair, I was having sexual relations with another guy and he was on the staff." The querist asked, "So you met your lover at the Christian student center?" "That's right," he replied. "And we raised money together." Harrington mentions a five year period where he essentially didn't engage in any kind of sexual activity. "Oh my word!," said the shocked interviewer. "I look back now with horror that I put myself in that kind of misery, which is very unhealthy mentally and every other way." The person who was conducting the interview spoke of "elders, deacons, preachers, and youth ministers who are actually homosexual and who find themselves cruising tea rooms" secretly, but who hide their true identity from those around them. Harrington responded, "Sure, I know many of them, and what they do is that they live a miserable unfulfilled life."
The final article in that particular issue of "The Holy Kiss" was by James Henry, who did a travelogue on the city of New Orleans, from gay bars to the local Churches of Christ. The article was titled: "New Orleans -- From Fun to Worship." He talked about some of the "better" gay establishments in the French Quarter and about which bars were best to hang out in for those gay men and women visiting the city! Then he transitioned to a review of local Churches of Christ with this comment: "On Sunday morning, when the playing is over, we gather in the house of the Lord to worship." This would be a good point to lay this article aside for a moment and go throw up!!
Brethren, it is later than we think! There is EVIL among us ... and it parades itself proudly ... and I fear too many of us have been too silent for too long. The time for "political correctness" is past. These people are perverts, and God's people need to begin calling evil by its true name! Frankly, timidity is unbecoming to those who profess the Christian faith. In society today ... especially today ... we need bold disciples of Christ; individuals unafraid to stand up for Truth and speak out against evil, no matter the cost. Living for Jesus is not for the cowardly. It certainly won't be popular with the darkness dwellers, but Christians cowering in closed cathedrals is not going to push back the corruption and perversion that threatens to overwhelm us. It is time for Christian men, women and young people to "come out" of those church closets, get into their communities, and begin visibly professing Jesus before others and leading them to the Lord. Battles are not won by armies sleeping in barracks; they are won by armies on the field of battle, taking the fight to the enemy. Slumbering saints must awaken to the danger, arise from their padded pews, and start behaving like courageous soldiers of the cross!
The Bible is filled with the thoughts of our God with respect to the practice of homosexuality. It is aberrant behavior; godless perversity. It is not an alternate lifestyle ... it is an abominable lifestyle! "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination" (Lev. 18:22). "If a man sleeps with a man as with a woman, they have both committed an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood is on their own hands" (Lev. 20:13). Are these the callous words of some "homophobic" religious fanatic? No! These are the words of the Creator of this universe!! Thus saith the LORD! If the "gays" are offended, then they can take it up with Him one day! My guess is they won't get far!
In the book of Revelation we are informed that the New Jerusalem is for a select group of people, "and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination shall ever come into it" (Rev. 21:27). God has declared homosexual practice an abomination, thus those who practice this perversion are thereby forever excluded from Heaven! Rev. 21:8 informs us the fate of "the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars" will be "the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." That seems a rather high price to pay for a few fleeting moments of unnatural self-gratification. Paul refers to them as "degrading passions" (Rom. 1:26) and the actions of a "depraved mind" (vs. 28). In that same chapter of his epistle to the saints in Rome he speaks of "females who exchanged natural sexual intercourse for what is unnatural. The males in the same way also left natural sexual intercourse with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty for their perversion" (vs. 26-27).
There are a couple of stomach-turning accounts within the OT writings of prowling perverts, and the punishment of God upon them for their detestable actions. I would simply refer the readers to these two accounts for further study and reflection: (1) The perverts of Sodom -- Genesis 19, and (2) the perverts of Gibeah -- Judges 19. Neither of these deviant groups got away with their misdeeds. They paid a fearful price!
The Racist "Church of Christ"
We now turn from homosexuality to racism. Both are abominations in the eyes of God and decent folk, and both are gross perversions of God's natural design for human relationships. Ruth Benedict (1887-1948), a noted anthropologist, once observed, "Racism is an ism to which everyone in the world today is exposed." She went on to state that this was a societal sickness against which "we must take sides, and the history of the future will differ according to the decision which we make." I believe she was absolutely correct in her assessment. Racism is not something to be ignored; it must be addressed .... and how it is addressed, and, indeed, whether it is addressed, will impact us all during the course of future events. I'm not a big fan of Jesse Jackson's politics, nor even of some of his personal stands, but he definitely hit the nail on the head in an interview with David Frost when he characterized racism as "a form of skin worship." It is little more than the prideful promotion of the primacy of pigmentation (or the lack thereof) ... and it is wrong.
The world about us is filled with racial prejudice. It has always been there and probably always will be. What breaks one's heart, however, is when this godless perception of others is discovered within the Body of Christ. A racist Christian is a contradiction of terms! There is no such thing. If you are a Christian, you are not a racist; if you are a racist, you are not a Christian. Jesus Christ purchased for God with His blood "men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Rev. 5:9). In the church He bought "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). Our Lord has broken down all walls of separation and exclusion, "making the two into one new man, thus establishing peace ... reconciling them both in one body to God through the cross" (Eph. 2:15-16). God's love was for the whole world, and thus He sent His Son to die for all, so that "whoever believes in Him should not perish" (John 3:16), for God "does not wish for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). If we do not have this same attitude within us, which was within the heart of deity (both Father and Son), then how can we possibly profess to be "Christian"?
Yet, some do! Let me give you a disturbing example. Peter J. Peters is the minister of the LaPorte Church of Christ in LaPorte, Colorado. He is also the head of an organization known as Scriptures for America Ministries Worldwide, which, by his own definition on his web site, is "an international outreach ministry dedicated to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to revealing to the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, and kindred peoples of the world their true Biblical identity." For those who may not have grasped the intent of his wording here, he's talking about the "biblical teaching" that the "elect" of God are WHITE! People of "color" need not apply for entrance into the kingdom! God's special promises are not for them!
Other than the above somewhat cryptic statement, there is little on this web page to suggest the true teaching of this man. The list of beliefs of the LaPorte Church of Christ, as listed, seem very biblical. We would find little to argue with. It is when one looks deeper into the real message of this man that one begins to encounter the darkness within. Peters has written a 44 page booklet titled: The Greatest Discovery of Our Age. In it he lays out what he believes to be a critical, but long neglected, "truth" contained in the Bible. That "truth" is that God's blessings are for the WHITE race! I have a copy of this booklet in my possession, and it is disturbing reading!
Peter J. Peters begins his Introduction to his little booklet with this admission: "The discovered truth contained in this book was not taught to me in grammar school, in high school, in the University, in Bible College or in the churches I attended. I was a Christian minister when first introduced to this truth and reacted to it as most ministers do at first. I soundly rejected it, labeled it and considered it cultish and contrary to Christianity" (p. 3). The author then proceeds to lay out his case for his ultimate conclusion, much of that case being little more than lifting a handful of passages out of their contexts and forcing them to do duty as "proof" of his theory. For example, in Gen. 22:18 we see Abraham given this promise: "And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." Peters then asks, "What race of people have not only formed a multitude of nations, but has blessed the world? What race has done this?" (p. 18). Well, certainly not the black race, or yellow race, or red or brown races. Only the white race!!
The name of his booklet is: The Greatest Discovery of Our Age. On page 31 he finally declares to the reader what that "great discovery" is (although by the time one gets that far one has pretty well figured it out) -- "You see, the greatest discovery of our age is that we, the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Scandinavian, Celtic and Kindred People are the chosen covenant people of the Bible known as the Israelites. This is the picture few see in Scripture today. This is the mystery story so many have failed to read and understand. This is the Greatest Discovery of Our Age." Peters ends his study by observing, "There is much more to be said, but with what has been said you have a key that will unlock the Bible and make it an applicable, understandable and meaningful book to the race for which it was written" (p. 33).
This is nothing new, of course. Such scoundrels have always existed. Racists and perverts didn't suddenly appear on our doorsteps in the last few years. However, I fear many have turned a blind eye to them. We hide our heads in the sand and pretend not to see them. They won't go away, brethren; indeed, their numbers are increasing. What is worse, they are infiltrating the ranks of the disciples of Christ. It is time ... past time ... for the children of God to awaken to the danger that not only surrounds them, but is now in their very midst. The wolf is not only at the door, he is in the fold. Pretending he isn't is not the solution to the danger we face. Exposing and confronting the danger is.
I'm not politically correct! To me, homosexuals are not "gay." Tolerance? Not from me! "I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel" (Rev. 2:20). Toleration of evil in one's midst doesn't elicit the approval of deity. Jesus did commend the church in Ephesus, however, because "you cannot tolerate evil" (Rev. 2:2) and because "you hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate" (vs. 6). There is a time to be accepting of others, and then there is a time to stand firm and immovable against that which is opposed to our God. Racism and perversion have no place in the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. It must be stamped out wherever it may be found. In this article we have examined an example of each. Countless additional examples exist throughout Christendom. Brethren, let us stand united against such evil. As Winston Churchill so aptly observed, "If we fail, then all that we have known and cared for will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age." With God's help, let us strive not to let this happen!
From a Reader in Tennessee:
Al, your Reflections article "Tale of the Tossed Token" was great! I read the book "The Fool of God" several years ago and really enjoyed it. I think everyone who is seriously committed to Christ Jesus reaches that point in life where they have to "toss in the token" and stretch forward. Thanks brother!
From a Reader in Florida:
Brother Al, your article "Tale of the Tossed Token" was a very excellent treatise involving some of the early days leading up to the Restoration Movement. In years past, I have done a good bit of reading and studying of Restoration history. However, that part about Alexander Campbell and the Communion Token is something that I had never before come across. It certainly fits with what I had come to know about Alexander Campbell; about his personality and convictions.
From a Reader in Oklahoma:
Al, Such a thoughtful article about the communion token! I see now why you call your articles "Reflections." How on earth do you find the time to research and write with such depth?! May God truly bless you!
From a Reader in New Mexico:
Thank you, Al, for that wonderful historical lesson, and how well-timed. We were studying Mark 7 today, and the "Tale of the Tossed Token" was a great addition to our discussion of the traditions of the elders (the ancients). It was easy to empathize with the young Alexander Campbell as he agonized over his decision. I pray the Spirit will continue to guide your writings.
From a Reader in Edinburgh, Scotland:
I enjoyed the latest Reflections. Good job, Al, as usual. I'm currently reading Richardson's "Memoirs" about Alexander Campbell, and I was pleased to see that while he was in Scotland he preached in Edinburgh. In fact, in an area just "up the road" from where I live, and from where the local Church of Christ is situated. As a Scot, I am very familiar with the idea of communion tokens. I'm very glad to see that this corruption of God's Word worked on Campbell's thoughts and beliefs to the extent that he rebelled against it. May we all stand up today for what Scripture actually says, rather than fall down at the feet of Tradition.
From a Baptist Pastor in Texas:
Moved, inspired, awed. These are the emotions that accompanied my reading of your Reflections article "Tale of the Tossed Token." This is one Baptist that would love to have known and spoken with Alexander Campbell. How did that deep sense of grace and reformation turn into a church tradition that has, or at least had, a reputation for the opposite?! Another question I have is this: "How did Baptists get so sideways with this man?" He certainly seems to have had all the hopes and dreams of a "good" Baptist.
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