Moral culpability of the Church

(Michael Christian Lague) #1

Concerning Prov.24:11-12 & Matt.25:31-46. When the Church body helps make up a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” that guarantees legal rights for all to include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, is She not bound by such law under God to act as Prov.24 describes to end up on the bless-ed side of Matt.25?

(SeanO) #2

@Mike_Lague The Church is not governed by the Declaration of Independence or the Gettysburg Address - the Church is the Body of Christ who is exalted above every human authority. We see this truth in Ephesians.

Are you asking what role the Church should play in bringing about justice for the oppressed? The Sheep and the Goats passage from Matthew teaches us that we serve Christ by serving the least of these and is not directly related to government.

Ephesians 1:18-23 - I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

(Michael Christian Lague) #3

Good point, and that being said, as the Church that is a governing body that outranks any temporal governance (yet subject to it under God as Paul explains in Romans), should we not therefore out-shine the dictates of the law and by the Spirit save the lives of those referred to in Proverbs 24:11-12?..What of the moral culpability of the church in Germany during World War II?

(SeanO) #4

@Mike_Lague I understand your point about moral culpability now - but I think the idea of the Church as a governing body is a bit off. The Church is governed by Christ and each Church may have a system of government with elders and deacons. But the Church is not intended to govern in this world - as Jesus said:

John 18:36 - Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

Regarding moral culpability, I agree that all people will be held responsible for not coming to the aid of the oppressed - if we are to follow Christ we must take up our cross as He did or we are effectively denying Him. I am thankful that there were Christians who boldly did the right thing and protected Jewish lives, sometimes at the cost of their own - like Corrie Ten Boom and Dietrich Bonhoffer. I have provided some links below that are inspiring and sobering reading - I really like Eric Metaxas’ book on Bonhoffer and ‘The Hiding Place’ by Corrie Ten Boom is also very good.

Book on Dietrich Bonhoffer by Eric Metaxas

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

(C Rhodes) #5

This is a fascinating topic. I may be jumping in a little behind. Still I would like to expand the thought by saying; nor is the church governed by the Constitution of any social government. The laws of GOD are shadowed by our social laws and documents, but history proves that our social declarations are wholly insufficient. If for no other reason than the tendency we have to hold righteous things in wholly unrighteous hands.

Like authoring the Constitution of the United States while slaves tolled in our personal and public lives. Or marching for civil rights while advocating sexual impropriety that ushered in wholesale physical and moral destruction. Gripping us in sexually transmitted diseases and drug additions that now toll our entire populace with death. It must be a human dilemma, we fix one thing and break three more at the same time.

The church cannot follow a mandate that seeks to protect the idea of legal right to ““life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It does not go far enough. In fact, the world has never accomplished this idea. It may be a noble idea, but it has never been a functioning reality. That makes sense to me.

In order to fulfill the mandates Proverbs and Matthew and all scripture establishes; it often requires the relinquishing of rights we believe are ours by birthright. That evidence I see happening all about me, there is more going on than the evil that mankind does. It is not a sign of culpability in the church because we live in a fallen world. That’s similar to conclusions that there is no GOD because of the evil that exist in the world. Its much too elementary.

The beauty of GOD’s mandate is its concern with the disenfranchising that occurs throughout our world, even in our homes. The challenge for us is to be guilty of extending our efforts to all GOD directs us too. Not ones our society or mediums decide we should. Our effectiveness comes only when we are divinely directed in a manner that addresses the whole person. The social law and politics are incapable of that effectiveness.

As inheritors of grace, we are able to share grace. That goes far beyond any social concept. Just doing a good deed is not enough. We know you can give your body to be burned and it would not be enough. 1 Corinthians 13:1-9. Grace is personal, relational, continuous and far beyond legal laws or definitions.

(Michael Christian Lague) #6

Thank you on those links. Yeah, I’m not a specialist on Church government obviously…could’ve stated a few things better. Just wondering, when I or any of us stand before God on Judgement Day if we’ll have any cogent reason for allowing a Holocaust on babies…I can just imagine my knee jerk response like “well, it was there ‘choice’ not mine” sitting with Jesus about as well as His response to me, “since you didn’t ‘choose’ to save them, depart from Me, I ‘choose’ in the same fashion”…isn’t the Lord trying to warn us, that as we have measured…it will be measured unto us? Though my concern goes beyond just myself to millions of ‘christians’ who will be stuck in that scenario. Which millions will He save? Us, who name Him, or the aborted brethren who we did NOT save? Heavy.

(SeanO) #7

@Mike_Lague Yes, it can be a very heavy weight when we think of all of the injustice in our world. Personally, it can be overwhelming at times. I really like what Andy Stanley says:

Do for the one what you wish you could do for the many. - Andy Stanley

Each of has a certain sphere of influence and certain God given abilities. We cannot be activists for every social issue or cause and we cannot help everyone needy person we encounter, but we can pray for those we encounter and intervene in a few specific issues or help a few specific people. I think it is a matter of discernment on the part of each Christian and Church to understand which issues / needs / people God is calling them to meet.

So, for example, say that Christian A feels called to serve the poor in Bolivia and Christian B senses a call to stand up for the rights of the unborn. Christian A’s focus will be on the work they have been called to do, but they may still help someone struggling with the issue of abortion when they encounter them. And Christian B will focus on the ministry they are led to, but they may still send a little money to help the poor in Bolivia if they feel led to do so. And they can both pray for one another’s efforts and the work of the universal Church. Our capacity as individuals and as even as local Churches is limited.

(Michael Christian Lague) #8

Should churches take action in the cases where people are slaughtered and trampled under foot? If the Church body in the English colonies had not, then we would not be a preserved people today debating whether we should act on behalf of others…What action do I propose? Well🤔, not taking up arms as we did in the American Revolution…it is not an army that sets against us. Instead, could we not do as Esther for her people? Simply protest standing as MLK did in the 60’s in front of buildings would physically stop entry of murderers. Esther petitioned govt to back her first.

(C Rhodes) #9

I don’t think either of us believes no action should be taken, perhaps we only differ in what is considered proper action. What brings real relief. My people were not helped by the church as a entity in the Colonies. I am sure there was help, but there is no record of the church being the instrument of preservation. Instead many times the orthodox church sanctioned many conditions that were unjust.

Again, I think we might not agree on what action is needed. But we do agree action is a part of the life of the Church of JESUS CHRIST. But what that looks like has never been honestly defined by society.

In whatever our positions in life than we move within the sphere of our lives to action. That could be as simple as making an unscheduled appearance before someone who loves us to prevail upon them to act. Or it could be burning at a stake for refusing to NOT share the Gospel. Or perhaps just giving more time and attention to someone holding a sign up on the side of the road. Being led of GOD to action does not mean you do not act, it does mean you act with the greatest effectiveness.

I feel your despair regarding infanticide and abortion in our world. I share that with you. But how to stop that practice I think is not a question for me. It is something in which I am consistently engaged. Even more so after the children are born. Things are so hideous for little people these days. Will standing in front of buildings in protest be effective, I have no doubt it will sometimes. Other times it will rest in the Church developing and maintaining a support system that supports the unborn and continues to do so, acting as life–long supporters. As in Esther’s day, government may make it possible for us to fight for the unborn, but how to best do so, has to be GOD led. It has never been guaranteed by laws.

(Michael Christian Lague) #10

Merry Christmas, the day we celebrate The birth of our salvation…Not to dampen the holiday of any but to respectfully remember the over 60k people that died in the last few weeks, I’d like to counter the last point made concerning a guarantee by law. I agree, there is no guarantee against any sin on this side of eternity in a fallen world. What think you of what God instructed to Noah concerning murder? Does the ineffectiveness of the law negate mankind’s responsibility to carry it out in restraining evil? Should mankind no longer punish sin and so bear the sword for nothing? If the Church is not charged with the carrying out of Justice as govt is described in Romans by Paul to do, will it not at least cry out until Justice is done for the least? Is it permissible for me to allow a thief to break in and murder my family without resisting him? When did we go from carrying 2 swords fror self defense after Jesus’ garden prayer to His Father to protect us, to explaining away why we would allow millions to perish under our watch? Do we not follow the Jesus who spoke against the soldiers in warning them to “leave these alone”? If greater things we will do because Jesus went to the Father, then it’ll be more than just 12 we save! Amen?

(C Rhodes) #11

Merry Christmas Mike!
Does the ineffectiveness of the law negate mankind’s responsibility to carry it out in restraining evil?

Should we give to Caesar what is due Caesar? Absolutely so. But the laws of Caesar are not able to restrain evil. Never have. Matthew 22:17-21, Mark 12:14-16, Luke 20:21-25 KJV. My obedience to the laws of the land is about respect, as long as it does not challenge the law of GOD.

By your words, I sense a fire deep within you that burns for the unborn, for the disenfranchised. That’s understandable, that is a fire that dwells within the people of GOD. But deciding the leading of GOD is evidenced in the Church’s admonishment to social law, still presumes that the law of the land is the law of GOD. Or that social law is somehow superior. In most cases that is not accurate.

Unlike the law of the land. The Church is not called upon to exact punishment. GOD made a body and sent His son to be the ultimate sacrifice for us all. CHRIST gave the ultimate sacrifice and ushered in Grace.

What is different for us since the cross, is how succinctly judgment and grace walk side by side. Yes, we are called to heal the oppression of the oppressed. But at the same time, we are called to heal the oppressor of their oppressive ways. That is the unique nature of Grace. There must be healing at the cross for all who desire it. Our social laws, nor our social remedies provide that balance. Our social laws know how to punish, but not how to heal. The corruption just shifts its intake and outtake positions.

I also have a passion and yearning for the unborn and the young. That is truly a call upon my life. There was a time my grief was overwhelming for the children I felt that no one could possibly understand the depth of my grief. Especially sending children back to homes that were more torture than loving. Many evenings found me weeping with despair and praying desperately for the means to deliver the children. One evening I cried out in anguish, “Lord, why did you give my children to those people!”

With such love and patience, the Lord asked; “did you really intend to presume that somehow you love the children more then I do? Are you intimating that unless you are there or the children under your field of influence they can not be properly cared for? Or properly loved?” “And what of my other children?” He asked. “Do you get that my love for them is just as great as it is for their victims?” Later he asked me; “how do you not love whom I love?” For me, there was only one conclusion to reach. The love and care for the children is not a challenge for GOD. Nor for His people. We just need to refrain from deciding what that looks like. That’s only a question that can be answered in prayer, evidenced by the fruit that is born in individual lives not the keeping of social laws. We can obey all of Caesar’s laws and still be sinful.

We just need to remember that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. And that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. When the dish being served is healing, then all options are on the table. Because living and loving according to GOD’s law means the battle being waged is already won when it is won on our knees. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 KJV. Ephesians 6:12-18 KJV. That will not fully convert a fallen world, we can’t dismiss ‘free-will’. But we can be consistent in our commitment to point others towards CHRIST and walk deliberately towards that healing for ourselves and our world.

I am not sure what you reference when you speak of Noah’s outlook regarding murder as GOD instructed him. I would need you to be specific. Likewise in your reference of “two swords” for self-defense. Not sure what commandment or scripture you are referring too. Can you give me those references?

(Michael Christian Lague) #12

Gen.9:5-7…prior to this, murder was not punishable by death via the hand of man and the pre-flood world from Adam to Noah evidenced the violence that mankind begets under such conditions.

Lk.22:35-38…Jesus directly instructs the purchase of self defense weapons as times were about to become more intense for them. Obviously not for offensive means, per His correction to Peter shortly thereafter.

I am not advocating a reversal of grace, but advocating grace to victims through the presence of such laws to protect life. We have become a people that care more for the life of the murderer than the victim. Such is the outcome in an environment of lawlessness, and the Church in America continues to advocate in that direction. Instead, God has instructed grace not to negate justice but that the presence of law to the victim is a grace in preventing injustice. Why do we always focus on the law being a negative against murderers instead of a positive grace to the victim in preventing murder? Because the mind of the Church has largly become antinomian.

(SeanO) #13

@Mike_Lague What evidence do you have that the Church has become antinomian? I have visited many Churches that still teach the importance of obedience to God’s laws and the importance of obedience to governing authorities.

(Michael Christian Lague) #14

We claim to follow Jesus who laid down His life out of love, yet while we boast of our love for Him we allow millions to be slaughtered without laying down our lives for them. John said that if we do not love those who can be seen, how can we say that we love God who we do not see? He concluded that such boasters are liers and they are not His. Jesus said the greatest commandment (singular) are these (plural), to love the Lord God with all you are and our neighbor as to ourselves. Then He also defines that love for us further by laying His life down for us in an example to follow. Yet…the professing Church today, by n large, has a better record of explaining away apologetically why we are still who we claim to be…contrary to the scriptures’ warning and Jesus’ claim…that those who do not relieve the suffering of the “least of these my brethren”(Matt.25:30-40, I think) do not do so “unto Him” and will be cast away since He does not “KNOW” them. And so I am simply but unfortunately concluding as Jesus has warned, how could we possibly think that the God who laid down His life for us and judges us based on whether our lives reflect His example to the least “as unto Him”…how could THAT God violate His OWN Word and save us who are perishing? Seems too likely a rerun of the rich man and Lazarus, and we know how that ended. We violate the fundamental “law” of love and allow children to be slaughtered…children…while we claim to be the very children of God. What a dangerous claim…considering the God that judges those claims as He has said He will. It’s simply an eternal open book test that’s coming and dare I say that God has said that we are failing it presently…

(Michael Christian Lague) #15

Allow me if you will, to further add…
Since God has taken on the form of Man in Christ, we no longer have the choice of loving God apart from man. The very means that God has used as a vehicle to save us, the body of a man, has changed everything as it relates to how a body of any people could or would define their love for that same God. The ontological reality, if I’m using that term correctly, is that the Incarnate Word of God cannot violate His own word. Therefore, if we who are His have lives that PROVE, according to His standard, that we ARE His…then He cannot deny us, lest He would deny Himself. And so, Prov.24:11-12 & Matt.25:31-46, are to me more than just a little disturbing when applied to the context of our day and She who claims to be His Bride. Our hope remains, yet hope does not save…only the Object of that hope will save, as He defines. Such is the ecstasy and the agony of our reality.

(C Rhodes) #16

Genesis 9:5-7

Not sure of the significance of your choice of scripture here. It seems you are saying that the instructions to Noah and his sons were the first of their kind. But that does not follow when considering the punishment handed down to Cain for the death of his brother Abel. Nor does it track when I consider that even in his punishment there was protection given for Cain. I can’t assume that the conversation with Noah represents the first occasion when mankind was called upon to punish one another for murder. If for no other reason than knowing that scripture only reveals some of the details not all that was occurring at that time or even today.

In Luke 22:35-38

Though you reference this scripture as if to give sanction to the idea of taking up arms to protect the unborn; by your own exclamation this scripture comes with its own rebuke to the disciples for doing so.

Matthew 26:51-53 expounds this idea in further detail. “And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? “

There is no call to physical arming in these scriptures, just evidence of the misunderstanding by the disciples of what JESUS tried to tell them.

The weapons of our warfare are not found in social law. 1 Corinthians 10:4. We can only hope that social laws and the Church will properly decipher the intended purpose. Never-the-less we are enlisted and commissioned to follow the law of GOD. And despite of our failures, the will of GOD is always accomplished.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” Ephesians 6:11-18.

(SeanO) #17

@Mike_Lague I agree we need to lay down our lives for others - but I think we need to be wise in how we approach issues like the sanctity of life. Not everyone is called to advocate for the same cause - we each have limited time and resources. In my immediate circle I know at least half-a-dozen people who have worked with pro-life ministries to help the unborn and, as the following article notes, thousands more do so on a daily basis. Even more give to help these organizations and many pray. People are doing what they think is wisest to help - so we should let them stand or fall before Jesus. It is not our job to judge their motives.

Romans 14:4 - Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

The real heroes in the fight for the unborn may not be the politicians or the preachers but the nearly 40,000 volunteers around the country who work tirelessly with young, unwed mothers. I’ve worked with a few of these volunteers in our local community and have been impressed by their heart for the welfare of the young women who come into their care.

(C Rhodes) #18

Brief note. The laying down of His life has unheard of impact and proportions. It was not just a matter of dying on the cross. Don’t forget there were two other men who died that same day and in that same manner. But their deaths did not set a World free, nor provide a bridge of the gap sin caused, by making it possible to return to GOD. It may seem noble, the notion of laying down your physical life, but beyond the news report such an act would generate, how will it resolve the murder of children? Our natural death is beneficial only to us. That’s not the true challenge for us. What is much more difficult is dying daily to ourselves, to our thinking and wills. To do so is what is needed to save our World. To save the babies. It was not the willingness to die that provided the solution, we all die. It was the resurrection after that death that robbed sin of its sting and affords us redemption. That is a gift we can accept and share with others. It is not one that we can deliver to a fallen World. Nor is it needed again.

(Matt Western) #19

Forgive me if this is a very simplistic post.

I like theBibleProject videos - they mention in a lot of their videos an ‘upside down kingdom’ - which is basically saying that Israel was looking for a conquering Messiah. Israel wanted someone to free them from the brutal Romans and return them to the good old days of King David. Jesus came onto the scene - God with Us!! - and it was not what they were expecting.

I love all the Bible Project videos, but this one on Justice has an interesting clip in it, where it shows how a Christian overcomes injustice by using Love -

The Way of the Exile video also has some interesting ideas to ponder - How do we life in a culture which is exactly like Babylon - greed, violence, worship of money. Like the nation of Israel in exile, who were told to seek the welfare of the city and in it’s good even though it was the most corrupt and violent regime in ancient Babylon under King Nebuchanezzar. (One of my favourite books is ‘Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism’ by John Lennox. )

Also, your initial subject ‘Moral culpability of the church’ - I search for the definition of culpability and it is where the blame falls? I don’t believe I will stand before God and be judged because I didn’t do anything about huge issues outside of my control. I cannot fix the entire world - only the love of Jesus can do this by coming into a person’s heart and ‘fixing’ us from the inside. I can however do a little bit in my little corner of the world with what I have available to me - and I leave the big issues of the world to God to take care of in his Sovereignty. I can’t solve the 4 year civil war in Syria - it’s such a big mess.

I have heard the notion of a ‘Just War’ whereby if a nation has the defence capability to stop a brutal regime and it stands by and does nothing, they they are perhaps morally culpable as a nation. I’m glad I don’t have the responsibility for those type of decisions. We are instructed to pray for our leaders in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 - both Christian and non-Christian - so that we may life quiet and peaceable lives.

Back to a personal level: we could consider the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14–30 - it’s about stewardship - the two good servants did what they could with what they had available and were commended for it.

I enjoyed a Tim Mackie message from the podcast ‘Exploring my Strange Bible’ on this passage recently entitled ‘Gold, Dwarves and Darkness’ as I have found this a challenging parable to understand in the past - he pointed out that the servants got to keep not only their initial talent but also the profits they had made - who wouldn’t want to serve such a generous Owner… The one servant who did nothing with his one talent (the opportunities or resources he had) was judged and his opportunity was given to another…

I’m sorry if this doesn’t address any of the questions - just musing out loud I suppose and sharing some things that come to mind.

(Michael Christian Lague) #20