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As the great apostasy that precedes the coming of Christ intensifies, believers are witness to the wildest of religious teachings and the weirdest of religious practices. All is in the name of Christ. This was foretold. False doctrines and evil practices in the churches are part of the coming of “antichrist.” The mystery of iniquity is always working. And antichrist opposes the Christ of Scripture by taking His place. The Greek word “anti” in I John 2:18 (“as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time”) combines the meaning of antagonism and replacement.

Believers tend to get used to the superstitious nonsense that parades as Christianity. We “roll with the punches.” We are no longer horrified by the boldest affronts to the majesty of God. We no longer know how to be angry at the profaning of the holiest things of the kingdom of God. We become calloused. Or we are battle-weary. This is a weakness. It bodes ill for the future. But this is not now my concern. Occasionally, something is done that outrages even the most calloused and battle-weary of Reformed believers, alerting them to the deep penetration of the apostasy into the Reformed churches.

Such a thing took place in Grand Rapids last month in celebration of the suffering of Jesus. A religious organization with a name something like Moonshine Ministry Center crucified the Son of God again. It decked some actor up as Jesus, the eternal Son of God in human flesh, and hanged him on a cross to die. There, according to his own testimony in the public press, he experienced something of what Christ endured in His final hours. He suffered something of the humiliation of the sin-bearer under the wrath of God. All this was done at a public gathering on a main highway just outside “Jerusalem” for the religious edification of the audience, for the spread of the witness to Jesus in the world, and in remembrance of Jesus’ death until He comes. Admission was free.

Merely drama?

Moonshine blasphemy rather.

A mere man, and sinful, impersonated the eternal Son of God, Mary’s holy Child. Moonshine staged a reincarnation of the Incarnate Word of God. It replayed the unique, unrepeatable atonement of the only Savior.

God was represented by a creature. A mortal man played God.

Dumb images—the pageant, rather than the lively preaching of the Word, were used to teach the people the very heart of the mystery of salvation.

Other actors screamed, “Crucify him,” playing at the sin of crucifying the Lord of glory. These knew what they were doing.

Men, women, and children gathered to remember the crucifixion of their Redeemer and to worship the Lamb Who was slain by gazing on this monstrous farce and horrendous lie.

What did a father say, I wonder, to the little child who asked, in some terror at the spectacle, “Daddy, who is that on the cross?” Did he say “That is Jesus dying for our sins”? Or did he say, ‘That is a man playing the part of Jesus dying for our sins”? It makes no difference. In either case, he said, “That is a replacement-Jesus, an antichrist.”

But the show was spiritually enriching. The actor himself testified in the press that taking the place of the crucified Jesus strengthened and deepened his faith.

Blasphemous moonshine rather.

The Holy Spirit of the exalted Christ works faith in Jesus Christ by the preaching of the gospel and strengthens it by the use of the sacraments, as the Reformed Christian confesses in question 65 of the Heidelberg Catechism. The Spirit does not use transgression of the second commandment to strengthen faith or to give the benefits of the cross of Christ. For He is holy.

The best that might be said of the superstitious shenanigans is that the sponsoring organization is, by its own seemingly proud advertisement, no church, but only a “ministry center.” The church, established by Jesus Christ and serving Him, preaches the cross as the sacrifice of Himself by Jesus, once for all. She worships Jesus as the One Who is now in heaven according to His human nature, and not on earth where He can be crucified yearly for the entertainment of Grand Rapids. Religious ministry centers, man-made and catering to the people, do whatever it takes to attract and amuse the people.

But everyone knows that in very small print Moonshine Ministry Center is a member church of the Christian Reformed denomination. The Christian Reformed Church, and every man, woman, and child in her, becomes responsible for the Moonshine blasphemy. If the CRC did the denominational discipline that Christ calls her to do, she would set Moonshine outside .the fellowship so fast the heads of the music/drama/entertainment/blasphemy department would spin.

I suspect that the arena in which replacement-Jesus suffered on the cross this past Lent was full. I would be surprised if most of the spectators did not leave the mock-crucifixion testifying, like the replacement-Jesus, to a religious experience, even a strong religious experience.

I do not doubt it.

A moonshine experience.

—DJE