Radical Leftist Politics, Original Sin, and Carving Up the Bible
August 20, 2020 Speaker: Josh DeGroote
Topic: Church and State Passage: 1 Corinthians 15:25–15:25, Romans 5:12–5:12, 2 Timothy 3:16–3:17
Welcome to the living by faith podcast, my name is Josh DeGroote and this is episode number fourteen. Thanks for listening. This is a podcast where I take a look at some news items, theology, and history from the perspective of the Christian’s life of faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s jump in.
With the presidential election coming in less than three months, it is a good time to think presidential politics. And when thinking presidential politics, in the modern era, that means we think almost exclusively about the two major parties and their candidates. And one of the really interesting things to note this time around is the sharp leftward lurch of the Democratic Party. Now to be fair, it was to be expected that during the primary process, the Democrats would appeal to their base on the left side of the political spectrum, though it was surprising just how far left they went during the primaries as well.
But then, once Biden was the clear nominee for the Democrats and the sites are set on the general election, Biden and the Democratic platform has not (emphatically) moved to the center at all! This is even being admitted by big names on the political left.
Bernie Sanders in his speech for the Democratic National Convention on August 18 (last night) said, “Many of the ideas we fought for that just a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream.”. Let’s not forget who Bernie Sanders is an avowed socialist and has been one for a long time. It was his 10 day honeymoon in the Soviet Union with his newly married wife in 1988 that largely shaped views. When he came back, he came back praising the communistic system of the USSR.
So you have Bernie Sanders doing a “not so veiled” celebration dance about how his radical ideas are now mainstream. But then you also have the former president Barack Obama recently claiming that Joe Biden’s platform is “the most progressive of any major party nominee in history.” What issues are we talking about?
** Abortion on demand for any reason or no reason at all. And taxpayer funded. Well, Biden, who along with the vast majority of Republican and Democrat members of congress supported the Hyde Amendment - which forbids federal funds from being used to fund abortion. That is until recently. Biden has changed his mind and denounces the Hyde Amendment.
** What about economic policies? Well, that’s another set of policies that Biden seems to veered far to the left in what can only be described as a more socialistic, wealth redistribution policies, from free college, student loan forgiveness, huge increases in welfare policies (low income housing, etc)
** What about the issue of climate change? Well, on that issue too, he has fallen in line with the far left, adopting their language of climate change as an “existential threat”, with no room for debate. And if he takes advice from AOC and the policies of her green new deal, it will cost somewhere in the ballpark of $51-$93 trillion. No big deal.
** Furthermore, Biden is completely on board with the sexual revolution, even declaring LGBTQ+ rights as a civil rights movement.
** And on the issue of religious freedom. In particular as Christians the freedom for us to worship and practice our faith publicly, a Joe Biden presidency in this present cultural moment presents us with serious challenges.
It is important we understand what is at stake. Our society is incredibly polarizing right now and it shows no more clearly than in the world of politics. Politics and voting is important but they are not ultimate. Our ultimate hope is not in politics, a particular party, or a presidential candidate. It is in the Lord Jesus Christ who is reigning at the Father’s right hand, as the apostle Paul says, “until every enemy is put under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). He is not sitting idly by. He is reigning and putting enemies under his feet ---- Amen.
So as faithful Christians we engage and vote with our eyes wide open, we speak the truth in love, we pray with our souls lifted to heaven, and we trust in the providential goodness and wisdom of God whose purposes will not fail.
The next section is the catechesis section. For centuries Christians gave themselves to the practice of learning the doctrines of the Christian faith by way of a catechism. Catechesis simply means to teach orally or instruct by word of mouth. This is a practice that is sorely missed in our day and I think we would benefit tremendously by taking it up again, and so I want to do my part to promote the practice of catechesis.
All that said, I’m making my way through a modern catechism called New City Catechism, which takes the form of 52 questions and answers with scripture - so one for each week. You can buy the book online or you can download the app on your phone for free. So we are on question 14 this week:
Question 14: Did God create us unable to keep his law?
Answer 14: No, but because of the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, all of creation is fallen; we are all born in sin and guilt, corrupt in our nature and unable to keep God’s law.
When you go through the creation account, one of the clear affirmations is that God created everything good. After each of the days of creation it says God looked at what he created and said, “it is good”. Then after creating man in his image, male and female, it says “behold it was very good.” God created our first parents, Adam and Eve good, upright, holy, and capable of serving and obeying Him. But Adam and Eve did not continue long in that innocent state. When given the choice to choose listening to and trusting the words of the God who made and loved them or rebellion and listening to the serpent, they chose the latter. The effects were catastrophic!Adam and Eve fell into a state of guilt, corruption, and ultimately ruin. And all of humanity after was plunged into the same guilt, depravity, and sin. This is what theologians call the doctrine of original sin and we see its effects all around us, every day. It was the early 20th century author and philosopher GK Chesterton who said that we have “thousands of years of empirical evidence to back up the doctrine of Original Sin”, which of course is exactly right. When you look at the history of the world, the sinful actions of men loom large. And here is an important point. Original sin does not just affect our actions, but it has infected deep within, it has corrupted us to the core.
As Jesus puts it, “Men love the darkness rather than the light.” This shows the depth of the corruption. It is lodged deep within. Apart from Christ, we love to do what is evil. And therefore, from Adam and Eve’s sin to the present, every person has been born in this radical corruption, incapable of doing what pleases God and obeying his law. But God did not create us this way. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can rescue us from this perilous state. Only the redeeming work of Christ can give us new life, with a new heart, and a new desire to love and obey God.
Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.
In the history section I want to take the next few weeks and talk about early Christian heresies and I want to do so for a couple of reasons. First, it is important that we understand that from the earliest time of the church - even as the church was birthed, initially spread, and the NT was being written - false teachers came in spreading what Peter called “damnable heresies.” It was that way back then and this has continued. Faithful Christians have always found it necessary to hold up the truth AND refute error. And second, as we take a look at some ancient heresies, it become evident that Solomon’s are still true when he said, “There is nothing new under the sun…” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In other words, many of the ancient heresies have offspring still living today.
Often heresies or false teachings are named after the teacher who espoused and spread the false teaching. That is true today, let’s talk a bit about Marcionism. Marcionism. Named after the heretic Marcion, a wealthy shipowner from Pontus in Asia Minor - or present day Turkey. Even though Marcion was accepted into the church at Rome sometime around AD 135, he was excommunicated in AD 144 and an enormous gift he had given to the church was returned. What was his offense?
Marcion had many theological errors, but the main root was his refusal to believe that the God of the OT was the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. He could not believe in a God of wrath and justice. He had a distaste for a God who is angry with sin and sinners. And therefore, Marcion cut out much of the bible. And when all the cutting and pasting was completed, what was left was a god made in the likeness of Marcion. A god of who was nice and tame and full of sentimental love. A god who would never judge sinners, never show wrath, never cast rebellious people into hell.
So for Marcion, all of the OT had to go. And much of the NT too. In fact, Marcion only accepted an abridged version of the gospel of Luke and ten of the apostle Paul’s letters as scripture. His fundamental error was in his blindness (or willful ignorance) in seeing that the God of wrath is the God of love and these two seemingly incongruous truths find their harmony at the cross. At the cross, God’s righteous and good wrath is poured out on Christ. He takes the punishment we deserve for all of our lawbreaking. And at the cross, God’s mercy and love for sinners is revealed most gloriously, because he sent Christ on the mission to lay his life down. As the most well-known verse in the bible so clearly states it, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” We need all the scriptures to show us who God is. We need all the scripture to show us who we are and our great need. We need all the scripture to show us God’s wonderful provision in Christ and what we must do to be saved. And we need all the scripture to show us how we can live a life that pleases God now.
AW Tozer once said, “The whole bible makes a whole Christian.” But even more important than Tozer is to understand what Jesus believed about the scriptures. How did Jesus view the OT? Well, he saw it all - the law, the prophets, and psalms - all of it as the words of God.
But we still see this tendency to carve up the bible today. It was just a couple of years ago that a very well known author, speaker, and pastor with an enormous following, took a lot of heat for his statement that Christians need to get “unhitched from the Old Testament”. No, we don’t. We need it all. The law and prophets. The Psalms and wisdom literature. The apocalyptic texts of judgment and the poetry. The gospels and letters. We need it all. We need what Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which not surprisingly didn’t make it into Marcion’s bible. Paul said,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Thanks again for listening to the living by faith podcast. If you found it helpful, please subscribe, like, and share. Until next time, “may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you all.”