The Rev. Lou Tiscione Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“I can’t believe I just heard that!”, a refrain that we used to hear more often. Lately, I find myself thinking it, but remaining silent. I thought that I would take some time and reflect on, what I call, “Ridiculous Things.”
A recent one, “In order to heal our nation, we must take down “offensive monuments.’” The assumption is that historical monuments cause people to have evil thoughts and subsequent actions. As a Christian, I understand that men are not basically good. The Fall of Adam, recorded in Genesis 3 is inherited by every human being born of a man and a woman. As a result, all men are born dead in sin. The surprising thing, surprising is used sarcastically, is that men are not more evil than we experience. It is only by God’s grace that He puts bounds around evil behavior. Monuments don’t cause men to be evil. Men do evil things because they are evil. We all sin because we are sinners.
Continuing to think about recent ridiculous things, I heard (I paraphrase) “Let’s form a special investigation group to find something illegal!” All along, I’ve been under the mistaken idea that we live in a land where one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Yet, there is currently a so-called special prosecutor whose sole purpose is to find something illegal in the absence of any known crime. This approach is evidently only used for those who are members of the Republican Party. I find this exercise reminiscent of the statement, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help you.” I might be naïve, but I have always thought that the best thing for government to do to help law-abiding citizens is to “get out of the way.” I foolishly believe in our founding principle, that government is by the people and for the people. More often it seems that citizens are here to serve the government.
One final politically incorrect assessment of a culturally damaging philosophy, “Multi-culturalism is good.” The first time I heard a leader promoting the goodness of multi-culturalism, I thought he was right. Upon further reflection, in my view, our current application of multi-culturalism is erasing American Culture. I’m not some bigot, xenophobe, or minority hater. My heritage is important to me. I am a descendant of Italian immigrant and Polish immigrant grandparents. Yet, I remember best my paternal grandfather always emphasizing his American citizenship. My grandparents, fluent in Italian mainly spoke English. We seem to be losing our sense of what it means to be American, without any additional adjectival specificity.
There is a religious statement that I believe has been and continues to be destructive to the visible church. “Protestants need to heal the rift with Rome because Jesus wants us to be unified.” The Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century recovered vital biblical doctrine that Rome had hidden in mystery. The truth of salvation was jeopardized. Diminishing Reformed Doctrine is damaging to the health of the church and removes the hope that our sovereign God has given to His people. The so-called “rift” between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism is as deep and broad as it was in the 16th Century. The doctrine of justification by faith alone is the essence of the gospel. God must declare a sinner right with Him because sinners can do nothing to gain His favor. We depend upon the sovereign grace of God to be able to “see the Kingdom” John 3:3. This is not an issue that can be resolved. Protestant theology is diametrically opposed to Roman Catholicism at the point of justification. We either receive the Bible’s teaching that justification is an act of God’s free grace by which He imputes the perfect righteousness of Christ through faith alone or we believe Rome’s teaching that justification is an infused work combined of good deeds and God’s grace. There can be no compromise on this issue!
My purpose in writing this article is not to belittle people. It is to cause men and women to think critically about what they hear. Certainly, I would advocate viewing everything that you not only hear, but also experience in light of the word of God. To do that, you must be a student of the Bible. To be a student of the Bible you must be engaged in a local church committed to teach the Bible. Commit yourself to the study and application of God’s word!