Whenever I have the opportunity to do so I go to the worship service at Atlanta’s First Baptist Church on Wednesday evenings where senior associate pastor Dr. Anthony George preaches the Word of God. Dr. George is one of the most dynamic preachers in our whole Southern Baptist Zion. His messages are practical, poignant, pointed, penetrating, and powerful.
On Oct. 5 Dr. George preached a message titled Freedom to Believe, based on Acts 16:20-24. He concluded his message by stating: “Religious liberty is when government protects the inherent right of each citizen to practice freely the religion of his choosing according to his personal conscience and beliefs, or to practice none at all. …[O]ne of the most significant Baptist distinctives is the belief of a free church in a free state.”
Then Dr. George articulated eight lies you may have been led to believe. I would like for you to consider these debilitating and destructive lies.
Lie #1: The separation of church and state is about keeping religion out of the state.
There is nothing in the United States Constitution about the separation of church and state. The term “separation of church and state” originated in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut.
On October 7, 1801 the Danbury Association wrote President Jefferson to complain about the infringement of their religious liberty by their state legislature. The letter stated, “What religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgments, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen.”
Jefferson wrote a letter expressing agreement with the Connecticut Baptists, expressing his reverence for the First Amendment’s “wall of separation between Church & State” at the federal level. Dr. George asserted, “The separation of church and state is not intended to keep the church out of the state, but to keep the state out of the church. Inevitably, the tail wags the dog, when the state is involved in the establishment or sanctioning of a religion.”
Lie #2: Loving your country means loving your government.
Dr. Charles Stanley’s senior associate pastor elaborated, “Government is not an entity deserving of love or loyalty. Government is an institution prone to the corruption of those whose power and influence control it. Government is simply the institutional operation of delegated powers by citizens who are represented therein.
“It is not some entity capable of receiving our love or receiving our loyalty. As a Christian I love America, but I do not love our government, because they are not one and the same.”
Lie #3: Being a Christian requires you to remain silent when your rights are violated.
In Acts 16:35-39 Paul and Silas refused to be silent when they were unjustly beaten and thrown in jail, because they refused to be abused and manipulated by a corrupt and unjust regime.
In fact, the First Amendment to the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of people … to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Petition is the right to ask government at any level to right a wrong or correct a problem. Unfortunately, a petition is only as meaningful as its response, but we must not let any injustice go unchallenged or any wrong uncontested.
Lie #4: Your spiritual life and your view of citizenship are mutually exclusive.
One of our problems is that all to often we try to compartmentalize our lives. We put our faith in one box, our family in another box, our work in another box, our recreation in another box, our citizenship in another box, etc. That is utter foolishness. Our faith is to permeate every facet of our lives. As Dr. George said, “There is no area of our lives that is off limits to our faith.”
I abhor politicians who say things like, “As a person of faith I am against abortion, but as a senator or vice president I feel like it is my responsibility to uphold the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand in 1973. A politician who has faith convictions should use those convictions to change horrific laws whenever possible; and Christian citizens should be driven by their convictions to demand wise and just legislation.
Lie #5: The more a government provides for its citizens the freer those citizens become.
This lie has its roots in socialism. Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of Great Britain once said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”
Winston Churchill stated, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
But, perhaps the most disturbing quote came from Communist Karl Marx, who said, “Democracy is the road to socialism.”
Socialism highlights a clear correlation between dependence and power. Consider the relationship between the parent and a child. Children are generally inclined to obey their parents because very early on they understand that they are wholly dependent upon and at the mercy of their parents. They realize that their parents give them food and have the power to either take away or buy them clothing and new toys. They know that their parents have the power to discipline them when they disobey. Because of the power of provision the child may even stand by their parents when they are wrong.
When the governing elite, with a supreme interest in self-preservation and power, create a welfare state it is inevitable that the citizens will soon become the slaves of the state.
Lie #6: The more a government mandates, the safer the society will be.
Dr. George declared, “No, that is not true, because the more a government mandates, the more it must enforce those mandates. More legislation requires more enforcement of that legislation.
The more mandates a government issues, the more individual liberties are sacrificed. And the larger a government gets, the closer it comes to infringing upon the most fundamental of individual rights – the right to worship freely.”
Lie #7: It is the government’s role to insure equality in outcomes.
“No,” thundered Dr. George, “it is the government’s role to insure equality in opportunity. What people do with those opportunities is between them and God.”
America’s “everyone gets a trophy, everyone gets a passing grade” syndrome has become a national joke. Michael Sigman, writing for The Huffington Post, explained, “Phony advocates for ‘democracy’ like to give the impression that nobody’s better than anyone else – not on some abstract notion that we’ll be treated equally before the law, but that ‘fairness’ means we’re all the same.”
This does nothing but stifle ambition, militate against hard work, and discourage the quest to be one’s best. Dr. George added, ”God believes in equality of opportunity, but not in equality of outcome. He says everyone who believes in Jesus is going to get saved, but not everyone is going to get the same reward.”
Lie #8: It is the government’s job to keep people from getting their feelings hurt.
When the government moves from protecting rights to protecting perceptions, it is very dangerous. That is where we are today. The government then moves into the realm of monitoring thoughts and attitudes, not just words and actions. When we have gotten into thought enforcement we are walking down a very treacherous path.
Carefully and prayerfully consider these devilish lies. Don’t dare believe them. Embrace the truth and abhor falsehoods and prevarications.
Dr. Anthony George’s sermons can be downloaded here.