Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Bo Duke" on Christianity

Today, the Fox News website's entertainment section had an interview posted with John Schneider, best known for playing Bo Duke on "The Dukes of Hazzard," and for being Clark Kent's dad in "Smallville." In the interview, he makes some remarks on his version of the Christian faith that are not only revealing, but serve to perfectly illustrate what's wrong with much of professing Christianity within the United States.

In the interview, Mr. Schneider speaks of still being "born again," and that one doesn't get "un-born again." That is certainly a true statement, assuming one has been TRULY born again. But here's the elephant in the room in these kinds of interviews. You can say you're saved or born again. But your life and obedience to the Lord are barometers of your true spiritual condition. You go on to read that John doesn't go to church much, and that his faith—and how he practices it—is no one else's business. He says that other Christians don't like him because he drinks whisky etc. His statements cause me concern, but not over the whisky. It goes deeper than that.

Drinking whisky has nothing to do with whether or not you're born again. While there are many evangelical churches who preach and teach total abstinence from alcohol, I cannot agree with them because the biblical record does not bear that out. The Bible condemns drunkenness, it does not condemn alcohol consumption. (And please, spare me the comments, cuts and pastes, and arguments - I've been there, done that, and I won't argue about it. Core salvific doctrine? Yes, I'll go to the mat on that. But these days, I have little energy to waste arguing over secondary doctrinal issues such as alcohol, smoking, etc. One's salvation does not hang on these matters. And please, don't take that to mean I am endorsing hitting the bars and taking up tobacco. There are very wise reasons to avoid both, namely one's health. But let's not go beyond Scripture and put conditions on salvation that are not there. As you grow in your faith in Christ, you may well elect to eschew alcohol and tobacco through the process of sanctification. But that's another subject for another time.

Having said all that, there is the issue of obedience to Christ, and how one views the Word of God. For true, saved Christians, the Bible is the revealed Word of God to His people, and it is our final authority in faith and practice. Whether the Bible's commands come directly from the mouth of God Himself—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—or via the mouths of His apostles and prophets (the doctrine of plenary inspiration), Christians are to be obedient to Christ, and to the commands laid down in the New Testament. We are not SAVED by commandment-keeping, but our willingness to be obedient to the commands of Christ is a clear indicator that we ARE saved. Jesus Himself declared, "If you love Me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15).

We are told in Scripture that we are ambassadors of Christ to a fallen world. We are commanded not to forsake assembling together as believers (Hebrews 10:25). Matthew 18 and Matthew 5 make it clear that we are accountable to God, and to other believers, for our behavior. The Apostle Paul in his letters to Corinth, Ephesus and Colossae couldn't be any clearer that our behavior matters. Our behavior is an indicator of our love for the Lord. If we don't think our behavior matters, and that our walk with Christ is not the business of the church corporate, we are sadly deceived. In fact, we are commanded to subject ourselves to the authority structure in the church—even being subject to one another. If there is one thing that Christianity is NOT, it is NOT a solo "auto-pilot" type of faith. It is relationship to God, and relationship to one another within the church. We cannot "go it alone." Period.

But this is the spirit of the age. Antinomianism is alive and well, much to the sorrow of the Lord and to discerning Christian believers. It's especially a problem in the United States because of our history. We have fought so hard for the freedom of the individual, and in one respect, that is a wonderful thing. But that does not cross over into the church, where believers are to be accountable.

I would encourage those who have adopted Mr. Schneider's view to think again, prayerfully, in light of the revealed truth of God's Word, and return to obedience. Our lives matter, and our behavior's impact on others matters. With our lives, words, and deeds, we bring the Lord either glory or shame. Let's live to bring Him glory, and to realize that we are not on this earth to serve ourselves.

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