Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dealing With Intolerance

A day after I post on the incident in Florida, I found an incident which hit closer to home in which an individual thought he would take a none too subtle swipe at Catholic beliefs in response to an article by another blogger (who is innocent here… let me make that clear).

The comment was none too insightful.  It was the usual hysterical claims from an ex-Catholic that Catholic practices are really barely disguised pagan worship contrary to the Scripture.  Ironically, this individual failed to notice that what he was calling pure Christianity was in fact a heavily culture-influenced version of early 20th century Fundamentalist Protestantism which he adopted.

I suspect such individuals tend to be converted because they do not understand what they believe, and then when confronted with an anti-Catholic challenge they assume that because they do not know the answer there is none

The question which comes to mind is how does one deal with this type of uninformed intolerance?

It cannot be silence.

One of the minor saints whose memorial is today (the major memorial is for St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine) is Saint Poemon, who once said “Silence is not a virtue when charity calls for speech.”  This is a very real issue.

There are times when I just want to throw up my hands and say “To hell with this, it isn’t worth it…”  But when calumnies are made, we must speak out for the truth, lest someone think that our silence means there is no answer.

The hysterical anti-Catholic belief holds that Catholics follow a corrupted Christianity introducing pagan customs in and making them into doctrines and dogmas.  They will make use of the post hoc fallacy, claiming that because a certain pagan culture followed certain forms and the Catholic Church followed certain forms the Catholic Church must have adopted these things from pagan culture.

In contrast, they claim they follow the Bible pure and simple as it was meant to be followed.

Now sometimes, when dealing with an individual of reason, even if disagreement remains, they will be respectful and say that even though they disagree.  The bigot will assume that everything contrary to his belief is wrong, and if you knock down one point, will move on to the next, and will never consider the possibility he misunderstands what he hates.

Quiet and reasoned discourse is the optimal response.  However, this won’t work with a verse slinger.  They operate under the principle that pagan belief X is similar to Catholic belief A.  Therefore they apply Bible verse Y to Catholic belief A and say this proves Catholic beliefs are false.

Against such a mindset, one will not convince an individual to reconsider.  All you can do is to point out the errors and hope others will not follow the anti-Catholic into the ditch.

Most importantly we can pray for them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reflections on Truth and Charity in Gainesville, FL

Source: More children from Dove World Outreach Center sent home for wearing Islam is of the Devil shirts | | The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville, FL

What are we to make of the case where students were sent home from school for bearing a shirt reading “Islam is of the Devil” on it?

The question is whether this is a violation of the student’s rights or whether the school is justified.  There are two perspectives on this: From a perspective of “do unto others…” and a perspective from the belief of the truth of Jesus Christ.

From the Perspective of “Do unto others…”

I would not want to see a shirt, worn by a Fundamentalist student reading “The Pope is the anti-Christ.  Nor would I want to see one worn by a skinhead saying “Kill all Jews and Blacks.”  I would not want relatives of mine to be in a school who permitted such shirts to be worn openly

In Northern Ireland, from time to time there is some rioting which is done by certain Orangemen who march through Catholic neighborhoods posting virulently anti-Catholic invective.  The rioting of course is to be condemned.  However, there would also be no cause for riots if such behavior which sought to be offensively confronting — and it is legal for these Orangemen to march.  I think that I have a right to follow my religion free of harassment.  Now, if we would not want our faith attacked, it follows we must be charitable in how we treat people of other faiths. 

This does not mean we are being religiously indifferent of course.  Nor does it mean we cannot speak to the truth.  I believe Islam cannot be from God because it contradicts what Christ has taught us and the prophets before Christ.  However, I can be civilized and charitable in my opposition to the error of Islam.

From the Perspective of Believing in the Truth of Christ

My thinking is in whatever we do, we ought to bear witness to what we believe.  If we believe that Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth and Life we must not hide that faith but proclaim it.  However, how we proclaim it will affect how others receive it.  If I reasonably point out the errors of Islam and why one cannot hold it without denying Jesus Christ was who He said He was, and do so in a civil manner, trusting in God to touch the individuals He wills with grace, any rejection of the truth is no fault of mine.


If I should go “AAAAARRGGHHH!  ALL YOU NON CHRISTIANS ARE GONNA BURN! BURN FOR YOUR EVIL DEMONIC HEATHEN WAYS!” I have not shown the truth of Christ.  I have not borne witness to the truth of Christ.  I have just provided proof of one Christian being an ignorant, bigoted idiot.  In doing so, I have perhaps turned people who might have listened to a civil discourse into thinking that this is a product of Christianity.  Doubtless I will be judged before the Lord on the last day for driving people away from the faith.

Have these youths made any converts with their shirts?  Do we think a Muslim will see this and think “Oh my!  I had better change my mind based on what I read on a T-shirt”?  Or will they decide “Christians are bigoted idiots.  We have to try harder to save them”?

So from the perspective of “doing unto others” and from the perspective of believing Jesus Christ is the way, I think the back half of that T-Shirt was a mistake.  It will not spread the Good News to others.  It will merely cause others to deafen themselves to the Good News.

When we go to spread this Good News to the world, let us remember that how we witness will have an effect on the message.

Bishop D’arcy on Notre Dame

Source: America Magazine - The Church and the University

Several months after the debacle event at Notre Dame, Bishop D’arcy has written an article in America magazine bringing forth the actual issues as concerns the Catholic Church.  He starts by demolishing the claim that it was an anti-Obama in nature, saying:

It is not about President Obama. He will do some good things as president and other things with which, as Catholics, we will strongly disagree. It is ever so among presidents, and most political leaders.

It is not about Democrats versus Republicans, nor was it a replay of the recent general election.

It is not about whether it is appropriate for the president of the United States to speak at Notre Dame or any great Catholic university on the pressing issues of the day. This is what universities do. No bishop should try to prevent that.

The response, so intense and widespread, is not about what this journal called “sectarian Catholicism.” Rather, the response of the faithful derives directly from the Gospel. In Matthew’s words, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good works, and glorify your heavenly Father” (5:13).

In short, the opposition to the visit of Obama was not about being opposed to Obama, the person and president, but opposition to the message Notre Dame was sending to the world.  Bishop D’arcy recognized that Obama as president has set forth a view which stands in opposition to the Catholic teaching, and asks what sort of witness do we show in this invitation?

Bishop D’arcy reminds us what witness a university attached to the Church is supposed to bear witness to:

Pope Benedict XVI, himself a former university professor, made his position clear when he spoke to Catholic educators in Washington, D.C., on April 17, 2008:

“Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church’s magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution’s life, both inside and outside the classroom.”

In its decision to give its highest honor to a president who has repeatedly opposed even the smallest legal protection of the child in the womb, did Notre Dame surrender the responsibility that Pope Benedict believes Catholic universities have to give public witness to the truths revealed by God and taught by the church?

This was the key portion of the opposition to Obama at Notre Dame, and was certainly the center of my own opposition to the invitation.  Obama was invited as an honor, not as an opportunity to discuss issues.  This honor either ignored or accepted as tolerable the fact that Obama actively supports things in contradiction to the Catholic Church.  With this in mind, it follows that Notre Dame failed to live up to its obligation to Christian witness.

The bishop also brings up another point: the failure of Notre Dame to acknowledge the role of the episcopacy… the successors of the apostles:

The failure to dialogue with the bishop brings a second series of questions. What is the relationship of the Catholic university to the local bishop? No relationship? Someone who occasionally offers Mass on campus? Someone who sits on the platform at graduation? Or is the bishop the teacher in the diocese, responsible for souls, including the souls of students—in this case, the students at Notre Dame? Does the responsibility of the bishop to teach, to govern and to sanctify end at the gate of the university? In the spirit of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which places the primary responsibility on the institution, I am proposing these questions for the university.

Notre Dame, being within his diocese, is subject to Bishop D’arcy — who is a successor to the apostles.  Yet Fr. Jenkins did not consult with the bishop on an issue involving the Christian witness of a Catholic institution.  This too is a witness to the lack of respect Notre Dame holds for the Church it professes to be a part of.

He then goes on to talk about the Board of Trustees and how they failed in their role.  They did not discuss what this meant in terms of Catholic identity.  They did not discuss it at all.

In the midst of the crisis at Notre Dame, the board of trustees came to campus in April for their long-scheduled spring meeting. They said nothing. When the meeting was completed, they made no statement and gave no advice. In an age when transparency is urged as a way of life on and off campus, they chose not to enter the conversation going on all around them and shaking the university to its roots. We learned nothing about their discussions.

I firmly believe that the board of trustees must take up its responsibility afresh, with appropriate study and prayer. They also must understand the seriousness of the present moment. This requires spiritual and intellectual formation on the part of the men and women of industry, business and technology who make up the majority of the board. Financial generosity is no longer sufficient for membership on the boards of great universities, if indeed it ever was. The responsibility of university boards is great, and decisions must not be made by a few. Like bishops, they are asked to leave politics and ambition at the door, and make serious decisions before God. In the case of Notre Dame, they owe it to the Congregation of Holy Cross, which has turned this magnificent place over to a predominately lay board; they owe it to the students who have not yet come; they owe it to the intrepid missionary priest, Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and the Holy Cross religious who built this magnificent place out of the wilderness. They owe it to Mary, the Mother of God, who has always been honored here. Let us pray that they will take this responsibility with greater seriousness and in a truly Catholic spirit.

If an institution is to consider itself Catholic, those who are trustees should act with the faith in mind, not prestige.  It should be worthy of what it considers itself to be affiliated to.

The bishop ends his article with a challenge, saying:

As bishops, we must be teachers and pastors. In that spirit, I would respectfully put these questions to the Catholic universities in the diocese I serve and to other Catholic universities.

Do you consider it a responsibility in your public statements, in your life as a university and in your actions, including your public awards, to give witness to the Catholic faith in all its fullness?

What is your relationship to the church and, specifically, to the local bishop and his pastoral authority as defined by the Second Vatican Council?

Finally, a more fundamental question: Where will the great Catholic universities search for a guiding light in the years ahead? Will it be the Land O’Lakes Statement or Ex Corde Ecclesiae? The first comes from a frantic time, with finances as the driving force. Its understanding of freedom is defensive, absolutist and narrow. It never mentions Christ and barely mentions the truth. The second text, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, speaks constantly of truth and the pursuit of truth. It speaks of freedom in the broader, Catholic philosophical and theological tradition, as linked to the common good, to the rights of others and always subject to truth. Unlike Land O’Lakes, it is communal, reflective of the developments since Vatican II, and it speaks with a language enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

On these three questions, I respectfully submit, rests the future of Catholic higher education in this country and so much else.

The truly Catholic institution will put forth truth in Christ as its mission.  It will not consider the faith to be apart from the truth as if truth was something which nothing possesses in full.  Nor will it consider truth and error to be equally valid.  If the Catholic school is to provide a Christ-centered education, it must bear witness with its actions.  The Church has been emphatically pro-life.  Notre Dame has invited one of the proponents of the culture of death.  What sort of witness have they brought witness to here?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where’s a Millstone When You Need One…?

Source: - U.N. Agency Calls for Teaching Children 5-to-8 Years of Age about Masturbation

1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. (Luke 17:1-2)

In what sounds like it belongs in the pages of The Onion, CNS reports that UNESCO is calling for the teaching of children that masturbation is good, contraception is good, abortion is good, homosexuality is good… calling for children as they get older to have more and freer access to these things.  It does not matter if the parents think such things are sinful.  It does not matter that such things are contrary to Christian teachings.  According to UNESCO, your children have a right to this knowledge.

The UNESCO report said it is:

“essential to recognize the need and entitlement of all young people to sexuality education.” An appendix backed that claim by pointing to a 2008 report from the International Planned Parenthood Federation that argued governments “are obligated to guarantee sexual rights,” and that “sexuality education is an integral component to human rights.”

Let’s review what the Catholic Church teaches about sexuality: It is intended for a man and a woman who bind together for life in marriage with the openness to raising whatever children come along.  It teaches that the unborn child is a human life with the inviolate right to life.

In contrast, UNESCO wants to teach 5-8 year olds:

“Touching and rubbing one’s genitals is called masturbation” and that “girls and boys have private body parts that can feel pleasurable when touched by oneself.”

It wants to teach 9-12 year olds:

  • “specific steps involved in obtaining and using condoms and contraception, including emergency contraception” and the “signs and symptoms of pregnancy.” That “legal abortion performed under sterile conditions by medically trained personnel is safe.”
  • Discussing the ideas of “homophobia, transphobia and abuse of power.”

It wants to teach 12-15 year olds “access to safe abortion and post-abortion care” and the “use and misuse of emergency contraception.”

Once you hit fifteen, UNESCO feels adolescents should be exposed “advocacy to promote the right to and access to safe abortion,” according to the guidelines.

Thus we see the dangers of separating sexual relations from reproduction.  Everyone has a “right” to pleasure, and a right to avoid the “consequences” of this pleasure.

In contrast, Pope Benedict XVI has laid out the difference between rights and license.  The difference is obligations:

3. “The reality of human solidarity, which is a benefit for us, also imposes a duty”[105]. Many people today would claim that they owe nothing to anyone, except to themselves. They are concerned only with their rights, and they often have great difficulty in taking responsibility for their own and other people's integral development. Hence it is important to call for a renewed reflection on how rights presuppose duties, if they are not to become mere licence[106]. Nowadays we are witnessing a grave inconsistency. On the one hand, appeals are made to alleged rights, arbitrary and non-essential in nature, accompanied by the demand that they be recognized and promoted by public structures, while, on the other hand, elementary and basic rights remain unacknowledged and are violated in much of the world[107]. A link has often been noted between claims to a “right to excess”, and even to transgression and vice, within affluent societies, and the lack of food, drinkable water, basic instruction and elementary health care in areas of the underdeveloped world and on the outskirts of large metropolitan centres. The link consists in this: individual rights, when detached from a framework of duties which grants them their full meaning, can run wild, leading to an escalation of demands which is effectively unlimited and indiscriminate. An overemphasis on rights leads to a disregard for duties. Duties set a limit on rights because they point to the anthropological and ethical framework of which rights are a part, in this way ensuring that they do not become licence. Duties thereby reinforce rights and call for their defence and promotion as a task to be undertaken in the service of the common good. Otherwise, if the only basis of human rights is to be found in the deliberations of an assembly of citizens, those rights can be changed at any time, and so the duty to respect and pursue them fades from the common consciousness. Governments and international bodies can then lose sight of the objectivity and “inviolability” of rights. When this happens, the authentic development of peoples is endangered[108]. Such a way of thinking and acting compromises the authority of international bodies, especially in the eyes of those countries most in need of development. Indeed, the latter demand that the international community take up the duty of helping them to be “artisans of their own destiny”[109], that is, to take up duties of their own. The sharing of reciprocal duties is a more powerful incentive to action than the mere assertion of rights.

It is ironic indeed that UNESCO is silent about the right to clean water, food and safety in the third world countries, while promoting that 5 year olds have the right to be taught about masturbation in a positive way.

It seems that when we see such proposals, groups like the UN stand opposed to what we hold to be good and decent.

I find it interesting that on Sunday (8/23) the first reading had Joshua challenging us, saying:

“If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Will we serve the Lord?  or will we bow the knee to the god of pleasure and self indulgence?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Circular Argument: Interpreting Scripture from Scripture

One of the curious things I come across with those who give primacy to Scripture and deny the role of Sacred Tradition is the explanations given in order to defend their belief.  Generally summed up, the statement of “Interpreting Scripture from Scripture” means one needs to take the Scripture as a whole and reject any readings which are contrary.

As one site put it, citing 2 Timothy 3:16 (All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness)

So all scripture is useable for doctrine. However, if we take the view scripture is inspired and that God is Holy, we then can know that there will not be any contradictions. If we see a contradiction then it is our understanding that must be changed. We also must realize the differences between the Old Testament and the New. While the Old is still profitable for doctrine, we must realize the New says the Old is a shadow.

The problem is that this does not answer the question.  If I and another study Scripture as a whole, and another draws from Scripture a conclusion which is contrary to mine, to what shall we both appeal to?  John Wesley, in his Sermon 136, shows the limits of the appeal to Scripture while trying to justify the appeal to Scripture alone when he says:

[III. 1.] If, then, we have spoken the word of God, the genuine unmixed word of God, and that only; if we have put no unnatural interpretation upon it, but [have] taken the known phrases in their common, obvious sense, — and when they were less known, explained scripture by scripture; if we have spoken the whole word, as occasion offered, though rather the parts which seemed most proper to give a check to some fashionable vice, or to encourage the practice of some unfashionable virtue; and if we have done this plainly and boldly, though with all the mildness and gentleness that the nature of the subject will bear; — then, believe ye our works, if not our words; or rather, believe them both together. Here is all a Preacher can do; all the evidence that he either can or need give of his good intentions.

Of course, we have to start with that first IF: what guarantee do we have that one has met these requirements?  How can we be assured that one has taken a less known verse and explained it by Scripture as opposed to committing eisegesis?  If there is a small error in the beginning, a great error will be at the conclusion (to paraphrase St. Thomas Aquinas).

In other words, how well can an inerrant scripture lead when it is interpreted by erring people.  John Wesley again seems to struggle against the human inadequacies, when in Sermon 64 [68] says:

2. It must be allowed that after all the researches we can make, still our knowledge of the great truth which is delivered to us in these words is exceedingly short and imperfect. As this is a point of mere revelation, beyond the reach of all our natural faculties, we cannot penetrate far into it, nor form any adequate conception of it. But it may be an encouragement to those who have in any degree tasted of the powers of the world to come to go as far as we can go, interpreting Scripture by Scripture, according to the analogy of faith.

So, the question is this: Can we say for certain that when we interpret Scripture by Scripture, that our understanding of Scripture is adequate to so interpret what is meant.

Then there is the meaning of “the analogy of faith.”

Calvin, in his introduction to his Institutes writes:

When Paul declared that all prophecy ought to be according to the analogy of faith (Rom. 12:6), he laid down the surest rule for determining the meaning of Scripture. Let our doctrine be tested by this rule and our victory is secure.

The problem is that in context, Romans 12:6 tells us:

1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

3 For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

In other words, the appeal to Romans 12:6 is to claim that those ministers have the prophecy in proportion to their faith.

The result is a circular argument:

  1. The minister in question has the ministry proportion to faith.
  2. We can tell this because his interpretation of Scripture by Scripture
  3. His interpretation of Scripture by scripture shows his ministry

The problem is if we reject the interpretation of Scripture by Scripture as expounded by a minister, we no longer see his authority to interpret.  Ultimately this is a subjective test of whether or not one approves of what the interpreter of Scripture has to say.  When we consider the number of Christians who contradict each other on matters of the faith (Baptism is a symbol vs. a saving sacrament; John 6 is literal vs. John 6 is symbolic), all of them claiming to interpret Scripture by Scripture, there are two possibilities:

  1. Either Scripture is not Inerrant or
  2. “Interpreting Scripture by Scripture” is not a sound principle because it fails to take into account how men may be misled.

Jesus Christ is the way, truth and life.  However, there is one way, one truth and one life.  Not many contradictory ways.

So how did the early Christians handle it?  Numerous groups, such as the Sabellians, the Adoptionists, the Arians, the Nestorians and so on all appealed to Scripture to show that their view was acceptable within Scripture, denying it contradicted Scripture.

The Christians did so by appealing to the Teachings of the Apostles.  Scripture was not to be interpreted by any individual who came along, but through the consistent teaching of the Apostles passed on within the Church.  When something cited Scripture in contradiction to the constant sense it was understood as, it was a warning sign.

The problem with “Interpreting Scripture by scripture” when faced by this is that anyone can argue that an interpretation contradicting their own is, well… contradictory to Scripture.  (As an aside, this is also a No True Scotsman fallacy.  Essentially arguing that the Bible is clear, and putting down opinions different than ones own by saying they are not true interpretations of the Bible this makes anything one says “unchallengeable.”)

When one considers how the early Christians handled it, the idea of Interpreting Scripture from Scripture, while ignoring the fact that the individual is still interpreting the Scripture he uses to interpret Scripture [is this confusing anyone?] is essentially spiritual anarchy.  Only when we consider a Church given the power to bind and loose can we understand how we can have a consistent faith for 2000 years

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sinister: The Attempt By the State to Co-opt Religion

Sources: Army of the Lord? Obama Seeks Health Care Push From Pulpit - Political News -;;;

Seeking to bolster his health care plan in the rising objections from Catholic Bishops and other pro-life religious groups, who have pointed out that — despite White House claims — the Health Care reform is indeed a sanction for paying for abortions, fetal stem cell research and a denial for the rights of conscience; Obama has sought to reach out to certain groups of pastors and rabbis in order to push for support for his plan.

I find this to be rather chilling.  When a church speaks out against abortion and candidates who support it, it is labeled a violation of the separation of Church and State.  However, when Obama wants to bolster support for health care, it is suddenly all right for the state to enlist the churches to promote a partisan view.

The church which is the puppet for the state is putting man over God, and is an intrusion both against the freedom of religion, and a violation of the separation of Church and State so often invoked when religion speaks out against evil in the state.

If it is illegal for a church to say that a vote for a pro-abortion candidate is a sin, then it stands to follow that it must be similarly illegal for the state to seek to sway the churches in supporting a partisan political agenda.

The fact that it is set aside at the convenience of the government shows it is not the rule of law we live under, but the injustice of arbitrary enforcement of rules to benefit one’s allies and punish one’s opponents.

Without the just enforcement of the law with equality for all, we do not have a Republic where the rule of law is supreme, but a government of oligarchy (rule by a few self-interested men).  America is now ready for a government which sets aside the constitution at its own convenience and hides behind it when it wishes to justify its actions.

Under this action, we do not have pure despotism, but as Lincoln warned, despotism with the base alloy of hypocrisy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Caesaropapism: Tyranny in America Has Come

Source: Belmont Abbey Head: Washington Instructed Officials to Pursue Discrimination Charges

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."

—attributed to Martin Niemöller


Last week, I had written about the attack on Belmont Abbey College by the EEOC.  Today, Life Site News (LSN) writes about some interesting information revealed by the Charlotte division of the EEOC.  It seems that the decision to reopen the case did not originate at the local office, but was insisted on from Washington.

It seems that this could be linked to the denial of conscience protections from the Obama administration when it comes to religious run hospitals and individuals who oppose distributing abortifacent contraception and the like.

So here is the dilemma: To be obedient to the demands of the state, a religious institution must abandon its fidelity to the moral teachings of the religion it belongs to.

So, the question is, how did we allow ourselves to have our freedom of religion taken away from us?  How did Christians sacrifice their values to vote for a government which violates our First Amendment rights?

It seems that for now, believers are in a situation where they must either choose between their faith and their nation.  We will be called to choose between obeying the state and obeying God.  The answer we must choose of course is to serve God, rather than the state when the state demands of us to disobey God.

This may mean we will need to abandon things like Accreditation.  We probably will need to renounce the tax exempt status of the Church if this is to be used as a gag to prevent the Church from speaking out in America.

Belmont Abbey College has stated that they would rather close down than to abandon their fidelity to the Church.  This is the right attitude of course.  However, the problem is that it should not have to be in this position.  Nor should Christian doctors and pharmacists be forced to choose between arbitrary government edicts and their faith.  Again, Christian hospitals and orphanages should not be forced to choose between compromising their beliefs and closing their doors.

The fact that the current administration in Washington is forcing through its ideological agenda and demanding compliance with these laws indicates a profound disrespect for religion.  The so-called “wall of separation” between Church and State has been shown to be a one way barrier: religion is forbidden any access to the state, but the state may meddle in religion in any way they choose.

This is Caesaropapism: The state placing itself above the spiritual authority of the Church, and insisting that loyalty to the state take precedence over the obedience to the Church.

So what are we to do?

First of all, we must serve God rather than men.  If the state insists on something contrary to the will of God, we must be faithful to God rather than to men.  However, we must not behave as lawless ones.  Where a law is just before God, we are to show that we are faithful to doing what is right.  If we behave as rebels and the state punishes us for defying a just law, then what credit is it to us?

So even if the state forces us into a state where we must stand up against it, we must always do so in a way which is Christian, blessing those who curse us and loving those who hate us.