The foregone conclusion is that our nation and our churches have adopted a pluralistic view of values. Some say it’s time to be more tolerant, more open minded, and more accepting of all views – as long as they aren’t too extreme, of course. We’re seeing time-honored ideas and foundational principles being set aside. In no way has this been more dramatically demonstrated than by the present redefining of marriage in our country and the blatant attacks we are witnessing against our constitutional rights. The traditional Biblical definition of marriage has been tossed aside through intimidation and manipulation of public opinion, and our religious freedom has been trampled.
Perhaps it is true, as some historians indeed suggest, that when nations “mature” the core principles are viewed as less important, less valuable, or simply irrelevant to the times. Therefore societies judge the old principles to be less sacred and subject to historical drift, or, as philosopher Isaiah Berlin put it, “historical inevitability.”
Many things do give way to historical inevitability. But must all things? Modernity has demanded the disuse of the telegraph and the typewriter, but only because something superior replaced it. It doesn’t mean that we should throw out the mores and principles that have stood the test of time. We must resist the urge to embrace change for change’s sake – to launch ourselves into some great experiment that is untested and untried.
Let us ask what it means when America disregards our constitution’s basic premise that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Has this idea become irrelevant, indefensible, or outdated? Of course not! Those words ring more true today than ever before and remain fundamental to our future. They are the cornerstone of our national identity. Indeed, “all men are created equal.” We must be forever prepared to defend this truth, because liberty is incompatible with dictatorship and individual freedom is an anathema to socialism.
We fight this philosophical shift both in our country and within the Church. It is interesting how often discussions come along about the inevitability of modern sophistication and how it requires us to rethink our position on this or that. The positions on holiness issues, Bible translations, doctrinal essentiality and ecumenism that once united our fellowship now seem to be points of contention. “It’s a new day. Time for open mindedness,” they say. In resignation, they grab hold of beliefs that shift their hearts away from absolutism as if this were all just ultimately historical inevitability. But, is it really?
The Church is challenged to “be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16). We cannot live in two worlds, because our mission conflicts with the world. In addition, we cannot build two kinds of churches at the same time, because there is but one foundation. A light that shines upon the world clearly is inherently in opposition to darkness. So too must we be in opposition to the world. Our ability to shine demands our separation from the world. Historically the people of the Upper Room were unique to the world. They were unique because they had received the new birth experience evidenced by speaking in tongues. This experience instantly became part of their message (Acts 2:38), their lifestyle (2 Corinthians 5:17) and their mission on this earth (Matthew 28:19). The disciples of Christ were not called to concede or compromise but rather to challenge the whole world to come to Christ.
I do not believe that the church is designed to submit to the world. If the church is to shine as the light in the world then it cannot be in partnership with the darkness of the world. Present day Apostolic ministers and saints need not be intimidated by the world or the worldly among us. We are obligated to think deeply before we allow ourselves to submit to so-called historical inevitability. We are not up against an unavoidable event called historical compromise. Becoming a weak, fearful church without convictions and without power, without boldness and without true anointing is not inevitable, nor is it acceptable! We are built and empowered for overcoming the world.
People do not turn from truth because it is historically inevitable. They may drift, or give up their values. They may deviate from righteousness. But it does not “just happen” and it is not inescapable. It is a decision. It may be, historically speaking, a fact that people often give up their values and turn from righteousness, but it is not inevitable. Spirits may move away from the light. Hearts may wax cold, but this is not unavoidable. It is a choice. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Always remember, the world has no power to stop the moving of the Spirit.