Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Every once in a while someone decides to smear those who advocate social righteousness in the practice of both the church as congregation, and the church as members, as the “Social Gospel.”

   It is perfectly fine with me to have brothers and sisters debate the extent or parameters of local churches, or the denomination, to deal with social injustices, oppression, and social moral evils.  However, with both positive and negative words and actions, public and social sinfulness needs to be confronted by somebody.  Certainly we know this is part of the role of government as mentioned in Romans 13, where we are taught that those in authority are to commend those who do right, but hold terror for those who do wrong.

   How is the government supposed to know what that is exactly , i.e., what is the difference between those two things, what is good and what is wrong?  Do we leave this for “common grace,” that we should assume any and all people who might end up in politics and government know the difference?  Do we as believers feel any responsibility to be a moral and ethical voice to secular government, based on Biblical and godly values?  Do we feel that the realm of government is none of our business?  Do we leave this for those Christians who get into government to carry that burden, if they are indeed trying to be “Christian” in their role as politicians and governors?  Do we assume that partisan ideologies are the same as justice and moral righteousness?  (God help you if you believe that.)

   Some of the “smearing” or labeling against those of us who call for the church, and its members, to live out justice and morality in society is due to a misunderstanding (ignorance) of historical theology in regard to the Social Gospel movement.  Some of the labeling I suspect comes down to which social issues are being discussed.  Conservatives tend to have their favorite social issues, which to them are seen as legitimate moral issues so they tend not to describe them as social gospel liberalism.  These issues are abortion, human trafficking, homosexuality and the gay rights agenda, and alcoholism (though we don’t hear so much about temperance these days).

    On a side note it is interesting to me to observe how “Fundamentalist” moral issues have been superseded by secular activists in realms of anti-smoking (public health), sobriety (AA and the recovery “industry”), and sexual constraint (the “me too” movement).  These public movements have probably brought more public “buy in” to concern about behavior than the legalism of fundamentalism.  This would probably make for some good research in a doctoral program.

   Debating the role of the local church versus the involvement of its members is one thing, but to confuse a call for the social application of justice and moral righteousness to society’s ills with a theology that abandoned the need for personal redemption and conversion and replaced it with a passion for societal reform, is to call fellow believers who are members by confession and vows of an orthodox religion -heretics.  It is a lie, it is a slander, and frankly seems  intended to avoid social responsibility as an obedient follower of Jesus Christ.

   People need to be saved, by the blood of Christ, who died for sinners.  The cross was a legal and redemptive transaction within the Trinity to satisfy the wrath and righteousness of God.  People need to believe in Jesus, and He transforms them.  Inner and personal transformation is a necessity for a relationship to God, and that can only happen by grace.  At the same time there is a Kingdom of God, and it is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.   We are saved unto good works, and those good works are for the good of human beings.  God, the God of the Bible, is a God of justice, who hates wickedness, and oppression.

    Preachers have to preach, teach, and model good works.  Not as a means to salvation or as a substitute for it, but as the end of it.  Any preacher who takes his stand that the local church should not be involved in works of mercy, or should stand against local, national, or international injustice, better be preaching, stimulating, and even commanding his people to do good works; or he is simply an obstacle to the Kingdom of God, if not its enemy.  The preaching of grace does not nullify the teaching or practicing of good works but empowers them, with liberty and joy.

    Most of the time teaching that the local church shouldn’t do anything in terms of social mercy or justice is a luxury of the wealthy, middle and upper class church.  Those people have the money, the education and the social networks to deal with their problems.  When the church is among the poor then widows often have to be fed by the church itself, and not given over to their own retirement funds.  One’s wealth perspective often deprives us of an adequate view not only of reality, but of Biblical application.

   There was a theological movement of the early twentieth century, led by men such as Walter Rauschenbusch, who looked upon the need for personal redemption as a mistaken view of the teachings of Jesus.  While advocating some of the teaching of Jesus he separated Jesus from his saving work to focus on a social application of love and peace. 

  Obviously those are worthy things, but not good enough for those who wish to be holistically obedient.  Men need personal salvation and redemption, they need their characters changed in order to be able to deal with both their own sins and their own eternity, and to prevent them from sinning against others.  Love can only really and radically come from the God who is love within us, and not some moral sentiment.

   We need social activists who rise up within and from the church who are saved and blood washed by Jesus, and who become advocates for love, goodness, and peace within the world.  We need activists who preach the cross, while they feed the hungry, and stand against evil.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018


“All who walk in pride He is able to humble,”
Says Nebuchadnezzar.
A proud king, if there was ever
And ever was there a tree
Quite as tall as me?
As large, as strong
So high
Whose top can touch the sky?
Where beasts find a bed
And by its fruit the birds are fed?

“All who walk in pride He is able to humble,”
Says Nebuchadnezzar,
Who called for Belteshazzer,
A wise man, clever
To discern dreams and mysteries.

What does it mean, this dream that was sent,
About whom or why and what was meant
When the messenger said, “cut it down
And let it be stripped?”

What does it mean, “live with the animals?
Imprisoned in an animals mind?”
I’m not a beast
But of the kingly kind!

“All who walk in pride He is able to humble,”
Says Nebuchadnezzar.
“Here is my tower, here is my wall
My name in gold letters
Triumphant and all.
Has there ever been such glory to see,
Is this not my kingdom, the name I have built?
This was by my doing,
An empire of me!

“All who walk in pride He is able to humble,”
Says Nebuchadnezzar.
He who makes kings eat grass like kind
Nebuchadnezzar knew,
For God took his mind.

The King of Heaven does as He pleases
Regarding the boastful,
Their claims as a tease.
Takes note of neglect
Those who will not respect
Nor acknowledge
The Most High as Sovereign.

He can give or take knowledge,
Sanity, wealth, life, and power
To the one whom he pleases.
Assigns them their hour,
And tombs,
Which remain their houses forever,
Even their dwelling place for generations;
Though they had named lands after themselves.

Randy Nabors
January, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


   I have been watching the unfolding Evangelical internecine squabble, the civil war of social/theological embarrassment.  I have been listening to the racial/cultural commentary of the “woke,’ the sometimes arrogant, condescending, and despising rhetoric from those seeking distance from the uncool part of Jesus followers.  I too have been embarrassed by my so-called brethren excusing racial, sexual, and materialistic misbehavior in the name of political moral achievement.  I was glad for the Christmas break, as people seemed to take some time off from bashing each other, separating, excluding, mocking, or excusing.

   I am looking for a cooler tribe.  I am seeking authentic, true, and reliable branding; at least until hypocrisy appears in my new self-identified group.  In the end I suppose I shall have to run away from myself, sin just seems to keep showing up in this lonely group of one known as me.

   Some of the old songs give me tags, though we have the ability to make hash out of them.  “Lord I want to be a Christian in my heart,” and “I have decided to follow Jesus!”   “I’m gonna treat everybody right!”  Right.

   Well, how can I tell you that I believe in Jesus, which means I believe the Bible to be true, but I am educated and intelligent (self-assessment confessed)  and really like science, and I really want to follow Jesus by loving people, and think he wants me to pursue justice, and mercy, and love?  Part of following Jesus means (for me) to not practice being a racist, and I see that as a very human condition of ethno-centrism but gets aggravated and complicated when we have power and privilege.  Following Jesus means for me to actually hate evil, which puts me in conflict with those who think love means having no boundaries, standards, or penalties, but only tolerance except for those who think God draws lines.  I mean, doesn’t he somewhere, eventually?

   Following Jesus for me means that I believe that the God of the Bible is big, Sovereign, King, Lord, boss, planner and disposer and as such I call myself Reformed and think that God can use even delusional, paranoid, and narcissistic presidents for his own purposes but has the ability to make kings eat grass and be diseased in their legs when they take to themselves the idea that they are a god. 

    So, I’m not afraid, but I’m also a pragmatic American and a believer that the controlling God of destiny looks for someone to stand in the gap and make a difference.  So, I’m an activist and want to struggle and fight for life, righteousness and social righteousness in the practice of equitable justice, and peace.

   I want to live my life as if the future depends on how I live it, but with enough equanimity and humility so I can enjoy my life built on the assurance that God will work things out no matter if I fail, or others fail me, or you, or all of us.  I also would like to be patient, not think so much of myself and be kind – at least on a personal level.  I keep wishing others were teachable, so I suppose I need to have that for myself. 

    I suppose all of us have relatives that don’t know how to dress, or even if dressed we can’t take them anywhere because they don’t know how to act.  It is so much fun to despise them.  I am struggling with just how much distance I can put between myself and them before one of us loses the family name.  I suppose I can always change the name, it is just the genetics I’m stuck with, and no matter my superiority to ugly relatives someone unrelated is still sure to claim there is a family resemblance.  I just wish we all looked a lot more like Jesus.