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TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let’s go over to Europe today. I want to cover three different stories. The first, out of Reuters, Sweden’s national Evangelical Lutheran church is urging its clergy to stop gendering their Almighty Creator by using terms such as “He” and “Lord.” It’s updated official handbook to reflect the changes, which go into effect May 20th during the Christian holiday of Pentecost.
Breitbart News: Poland’s parliament has voted to slowly begin the process of abolishing Sunday shopping to allow workers to spend more time with their families. If the law passes, Poland will start by just allowing Sunday shopping on the first and last Sunday of the month in 2018 according to The Catholic Herald.
The third story, out of The Christian Post, as many as 300 people were protesting in northwest France this Sunday against a court’s recent ruling that a giant cross be removed from atop a statue of Pope Saint John Paul the Second.
FRANCE RULES TO REMOVE CROSS FROM STATUE
DR. REEDER: Let’s start with that one, Tom. It makes me laugh because of its incoherency: So, we’re going to remove a cross atop the Pope’s statue but you’re going to leave the Pope?
Well, what is the Pope? Well, he is the head of the largest expression of Christianity in France and throughout Europe and that is the Roman Catholic Church, which is a Christian church. You’re going to leave the statue of the guy that commemorates the leadership of the Christian church but, “By the way, get that cross off the top of it”?
These battles over symbols are so, in the one hand, incoherent, and, on the other hand, so revealing. The Bible tells you very quickly, “It is the word of the cross that is a scandal.”
Well, if the word of the cross is a scandal, then the symbol of the cross is going to be a scandal and that is something that people utterly, utterly despise, I can promise you. If that was a crescent above a statue, they wouldn’t be saying a single word, but they’re going after that one.
And, in fact, part of it was it was offensive to the Muslim immigrants into France. Well, what about the crosses over the churches throughout the city? Is there going to be a law to remove those because they might be offensive?
Therefore, you see the incoherence of the secular world and life view and the loss of any sense of a protected right of the free practice of religion in various nations and, now, in France in particular.
SWEDEN’S CHURCH AND GENDER PRONOUNS
Now, back to the other one in terms of Sweden, the Swedish church is a state church and, on the one hand, the statistics look pretty good because the fact is that everyone born in Sweden, unless they have another religious affiliation, is baptized and so the attendance in Sweden is somewhere around 1 percent of the population to the state church while the membership of Sweden is something like 60 plus percent. Basically, Sweden has long surrendered to liberalism in terms of “Christianity.”
The reality is liberalism is not a subset of Christianity – it’s antithetical to Christianity – so I’m glad for its demise once liberalism is embraced. Now, what I’m not glad for is the loss of a church that actually came out of the Reformation. When it came out of existence out of the Reformation, it did not take the step of most reformed churches, which was to disengage from the state – it, like the Church of England, decided to stay connected to the state.
And this shows, I think, the wisdom of our founding fathers that the state was to protect the free practice of religion, but the state was not to pick the religion – that the religion was to function in the public square and the people could respond with liberty to where they would worship, what church they would be identified with and their relationship with it, but the state was not to prohibit the free practice of religion, nor was it to coerce people into any one religion, but to protect its free practice. Therefore, you can see the wisdom of our founding fathers.
Thus, the state now, with its pressure upon the church, and the cultural pressure upon the church and the fact that the bishop of the Swedish church, Archbishop Jackelen – who, when appointed, made no pretense concerning her embracing of full liberalism in terms of Christianity – now has just taken the step to say, “It really doesn’t matter what God’s Word says and how God reveals Himself.”
So, since “Lord” is a patriarchal term and since it is now sinful to be masculine in the secular world, then what we’ll do is remove all masculine pronouns that refer to God. But it’s in the original manuscript, so the original Bible and that’s the way God chose to reveal Himself.
Well, that really doesn’t matter, No. 1, because we don’t believe the Bible is authoritative, so we can make it say what we want to.
No. 2, the cultural elite does not want us to refer to God as He is revealed Himself, therefore, our allegiance is to the cultural elite.
Tom – this is a direct lesson to the evangelical church in America – any time the church wants to be a player in the culture, it will be played by the culture and that is exactly what’s happening. The church speaks to the culture, but we’re not culture players.
Here’s what we are: We are on a mission to make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded – and He is with us always, even until the end of the age – and we’re to love our neighbor, even as ourselves as we love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and mind.
Here is a church controlled by the state and subservient to the cultural elite and, therefore, it actually vacuums out God’s revealed word, how God has revealed Himself.
SUNDAY SHOPPING LAW
On the other hand, we’ve got Poland and, in Poland, which has had this constant movement of a Biblical world and life view that keeps creeping into the public square for the benefit of the people on the sanctity of life and on a number of other issues.
And now Poland has looked at its people and said, “You know, this notion of maybe taking Sunday off and spending it with personal rest and family, that is more important than our economy, so I’ll tell you what, we’re going to close down the economy in terms of shopping on Sunday,” – they’re not making you got to church – “but we believe that it’s good to take one day aside.”
That happens to be found in the account of the creation. “Six days you shall work and one day you shall rest,” and then God codified it in His law.
Tom, I really like that one because there was a great awakening in the United States of America before it was the United States of America and, in 1750’s and 1760’s, one of its biggest hotspots was where my family comes from, Mecklenberg County in Charlotte, North Carolina, and there was known as “The Blue Stocking Revival” – called “The Blue Stocking” because it took place among the Presbyterian churches that were there – and they passed what became known as a “Blue Law.”
The only commerce that is done and the only things that are open on Sunday are those things of absolute necessity or ministries of mercy. We’re not telling you to go to church – we’re just telling you it’s good for our city to have a day of rest and so we are shutting down except for those things of necessity.
There were no traffic jams, there were no malls, there was none of that. The only thing you might do is get in the car and go ride and see some relatives on Sunday afternoon after you had eaten your Sunday lunch.
Did everybody go to church? No, it was designed from a Christian world and life view which says, “Whether you’re a believer or not, God made you to work six and rest one so, as a culture, we’re going to embrace a day of rest for the benefit of everyone else.”
There are creation laws that are a blessing to our neighbor that we ought to support and that was one of them. I would give anything if God’s people would themselves, embrace the Lord’s Day and embrace the Christian sabbath for its purpose in such a way that it would affect the rest of society.
The world, itself, would benefit from shutting everything down except those things that are necessary.
I applaud Poland. There may be some things more important than the GNP and one of them is to live as God made you to live, which is rest one day in seven. It’ll be good for you and it’ll be good for your family.
Count me as one that says to the Christian church, “It begins with us. If we begin to embrace ‘Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy – set it apart,’ it would affect all of society and, most of all, it would honor the Lord and, through that, the Lord would honor you and bless you.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.