It is not our intention to turn the editorial department into one of lifting quotes from other sources, offering brief comments on them, and so keep our readers informed about what is happening all around us. We realize there is another SB rubric that satisfies that requirement. But in this editorial I have decided to depart from the norm and do just that. There are a couple of items I have read recently that I think are worth bringing to the attention of our readers along with a few brief comments.
They are items I would label as ‘Signs of the Time.’
The first item I quote is a letter of reflection sent by an acquaintance of mine, an acquaintance with whom I have stayed in contact over the years and who sends reflections on biblical and spiritual matters to a number of friends he has on an e-mail list.
The brother’s comments have to do with drinking coffee during the Sunday worship service. Note, not drinking coffee in a church building, perhaps afterthe worship service has concluded, which is one thing, but being invited to do so duringthe service, which is quite another.
We deem this worthy of space in the SB not because we see signs of this becoming a practice in the PRC anytime soon, but because what the brother ran into is a growing trend in churches that want to be known as “user friendly” (a label adopted by more and more churches these days, sad to say). And sooner or later we or our young people are going to have conversations with acquaintances (maybe even relatives) who talk about starting just that practice in their own congregations, and when we express surprise mixed with disapproval are sure to be asked that all too common question, “Well, what is wrong with that?” After all, they may point out, “Your minister can take a drink from his glass of water during the service, can’t he? And you pop a peppermint or two, don’t you? So, then, what’s wrong with others taking a few relaxing sips of coffee?”
(We leave it to the reader to come up with an answer that explains the difference, something to be discussed around the dinner table, perhaps. To be forewarned is to be forearmed).
The conclusion my friend came to when faced with this growing and disconcerting practice in a church he happened to be visiting one Lord’s Day is, we judge, most helpful in answering that inevitable and self-justifying question.
His letter of reflection is entitled “Go Ahead and Have Your Coffee.”
I was at a church recently, when it was announced that the congregation would be able to drink coffee during the worship service.
That makes me wonder what worship has become. Singing songs is worship. Singing songs with a cup of coffee in your hands is also worship, I guess, because churches serve coffee to worshippers and don’t discourage coffee drinking during the service. So the expectation is that Christians, for whatever reason, cannot do without coffee for an hour or more to be totally focused on worship to the God to whom they claim to have dedicated their lives.
The thing that disturbs me is not that practitioners like me might be confused, but [that] those in leadership are apparently confused. The Bible clearly states that we are to show reverence to God and to the things that represent His person and presence. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably for my sanctuary. I am the Lord”,
The passage is interesting because the sanctuary at that time was a tent, not the great temple that was later built. Yet the presence of the Lord makes even the most commonplace setting very special and deserving of our reverence, even an auditorium.
I guess I could wash people’s feet with a latte in my hand or serve the poor or work with the homeless while I am sipping coffee. [But] imagine standing before a judge or meeting with an important person like the President and walking in with a cup of coffee in your hand. That would be considered disrespectful because it in some ways trivializes the interaction. But imagine even more if those in leadership encouraged you to do so. [That they should do so] when it comes to worship tells me a great deal about who they think God is. God is trivial, not to be taken entirely seriously. “Go ahead and have your coffee while you worship the God of the universe.”
By the way, this absolutely corresponds to my responsibility to my neighbor. If worship is trivialized where I need not respect God, why should I not also trivialize the needs of my neighbor? Or ignore them, for that matter?
This is further evidence of the Christian church’s malaise. Muslims pray to Mecca repeatedly in a totally humbling position. Other faiths go through rigorous preparations in order to even enter the presence of their gods. But, hey, for Christians, worship is really no big deal. Grab a latte and while you are sipping it, maybe give God a nod or a wink because it will make him happy. He likes it when people take a few seconds from their totally self-absorbed lives to notice him during the worship service!
Are we really so dependent on coffee that we can’t leave it alone for just one hour a week in order to give God the respect he deserves?
I guess I actually do care….
The brother’s observation is ‘spot on.’ Even the heathen know that for worship to be worthy of the name “worship,” it must involve a display of reverence and humility. The contrast between the heathens’ honoring of their idol gods, which are no gods, and contemporary Christianity’s absolutely shabby, disrespectful treatment of Jehovah God, the one true and living God, could not be greater. What more and more of Protestantism is involved in these days is not worship at all, but sacrilege.
In biblical times believers were known to fast for days, and even weeks on end, as an evidence of their sincerity and to underscore what was at that time their one consuming concern. In our day church-attendees cannot be required to fast for even one hour or put aside their precious creature comforts. After all, the impression might be left that this church is actually requiring the worshiper to stand consciously before Almighty God and to put Him before self. How ‘user friendly’ would that be?
How a church that cannot even bring herself to require of those who attend to leave their Starbucks at home for an hour or two on Sunday morning can yet imagine that she in all seriousness can confront these same ‘sippers’ with the call to Christ-defined discipleship, namely, the call to deny oneself, take up one’s cross, and to follow Him, we leave to the reader to assess.
Indeed, symptomatic of Christendom in our day—sipping one’s Starbucks while one prays.
The other item of interest deals with a matter that, if anything, indicates to an even greater degree how advanced the work of the Spirit of Antichrist is these days. It is an item lifted from the on-line site LifeSiteNews.com(January 9, 2009). The article, written by a John Jalsevac, deals with modern-day language dishonesty, something our ungodly and anti-Christian society increasingly resorts to in the interests of covering over what otherwise would be exposed as transparent wickedness and might, I saymight, even trouble the practitioners’ sleep.
In no arena is this attempted cover-up of wickedness by language manipulation more common than that of the hot issue of abortion.
Jalsevac entitles his article “Abortionists As Euphemists,” with the sub-title “The curious case of the shifting language.”
Most abortionists are euphemists, by which I mean merely, to quote [G.K.] Chesterton, “that short words startle them, while long words soothe them. And they are utterly incapable of translating the one into the other, however obviously they mean the same thing.” If, for instance, you say to an abortionist, “The excessive burden upon the mother, particularly in light of the rights to autonomy, privacy and reproductive freedom, of an unplanned pregnancy precludes any ethical objections to surgically removing the products of pregnancy post-viability, but prior to completion of delivery,” a gentle, indeed a radiant smile will cross his face, and he will dose off as if to a lullaby.
Note well, no reference is made to a baby developing in the womb, but rather to “products of pregnancy,” a phrase increasingly found in pro-abortion literature. Jalsevac continues:
Say, on the other hand, in a forceful, straight-forward way. “Crush the skulls and suck out the brains of your children!” and he will leap from his seat, startled and full of objections.
But the two sentences mean precisely the same thing.
Or, if you were to say, “An analysis of the cost-benefit ratio of carrying to term a fetus found via amniocentesis to have non-disjunction of the 23rd chromosome (i.e., a down-syndrome child—KK) invariably leads to the conclusion that medical resources would be better allocated by discontinuing the pregnancy,” your average abortion supporter will sway like a child borne carelessly upon the waves of a warm summer sea.
But unapologetically bellow forth the declaration, “Save the money! Kill all disabled kids!” and you will get a very different reaction indeed. But, once again, cold logic says that the two propositions propose precisely the same thing.
Abortionist literature is chock full of a million similar instances. Pro-abortion writers keep a whole stash of such long words at their disposal, which are ushered forth to carefully hide the tracks of any stray meaning that might have crept into their sentences….
Indeed, the abortion industry has developed a whole dictionary full of euphemistic phrases to disguise the evils they are seeking to justify. The very name chosen by its practitioners, “pro-choice,” is a euphemism, when in reality they are “pro-abortion”—the killing of the unborn. But that they will not acknowledge. They do not kill the unborn, they merely “terminate unwanted pregnancies.” They do not practice “partial-birth abortions,” no, they practice “D&E”—that is, “Dilation and Extraction.” You know, something like pulling out a troublesome tooth. And so it goes—detached, clinical language to salve the conscience of all involved and to disguise the evil.
This cover-up of wickedness by euphemism and ‘double-speak’ is nothing new, of course. It is similar to that used by the Nazi propaganda machine to cover its evil and soft-pedal its deviltry as it pursued its ‘solution’ for the ‘Jewish problem’—masters of euphemism and double-speak, to hide from the world what it was up to and to salve the conscience of a nation that tried its best to pretend it did not know what was really taking place. The Jews were not being taken to “Concentration Camps” or to “Death Camps,” but to “Detention Centers.” And the nation was not involved in exterminating all Europe’s Jews, but going through the difficult but necessary process of “ethnic cleansing.”
So it is today. And not just in the abortion industry, but in big government as well. Politicians do not acknowledge that they flat out lied. No, they apologize for providing “disinformation.” And on the ecclesiastical scene, no one is guilty of adultery or fornication, but merely of “engaging in an improper relationship.” Sin is no longer sin, it is rather an “inappropriate response” in difficult circumstances. Lawyers do not lie under oath, but now and again they are forced to acknowledge that they “inadvertently misrepresented the truth.”
And so it goes. Great evils considered and committed by those dominating society, and soothing words spoken to minimize the wickedness as well as to help all and sundry to filter out the criminal actions too few really want to acknowledge. “We are basically good people, after all.”
And with the erosion of truthfulness in language goes the erosion of morality and sensitivity of the conscience.
The longer this goes on, the greater the aversion of a society to words that may prick its consciences and maybe even trouble men in their sleep. In other words, there develops a growing aversion to all truth, to the truth of God’s Word and law in particular. And those who dare to utter these truths and confront society with these troubling truths about itself are considered divisive and disturbers of the peace. And then it is but a small step to begin to justify not only muzzling this troublesome lot but to begin talking about the need for “detention” and “rehabilitation centers” lest they ferment sedition and acts of terrorism next.
All in the name of public safety and the larger public good.
Our own country has at present a party in power that shows every indication that it would not mind at all if it could pull the plug on every channel of criticism (the exercise of free speech) against its policies and a “big brother” control of every facet of life. After all, such denouncing of present government policies may stir up random acts of violence; and that, all agree, must not be.
All underscoring what? That the spirit of the Antichrist stirs with increasing vigor. And once the Father of Lies and his agents control the defining of the very meaning of words themselves, accepted ‘truth’ becomes whatever the great Liar wants it to be.
We may be sure that in such a society there will be no room for those who yet are governed by the Word and His Truth. The truth is too powerful in exposing liars for what they are.
The thing about liars is, they do not like to be reminded of the fact.
Regardless, God’s truth endures and is eternal, and those who speak it with conviction will triumph in the end.