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Letter from Australia 69 – Is Joe Biden’s Faith the Christian Faith that will Change America?

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I’m writing to you with a heavy burden on my heart.  Even though I am writing with this lovely view (every day I get a great start – coffee, the Word, Sibbes, prayer, the Psalms and this view!) there is something has been weighing on my spirit for some time.  I share it with you here because I’m not sure that it is appropriate, or would be accepted, in some of the other publications I write for.     I have found myself understanding and empathising with Paul when he writes to the Galatians: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!” (Galatians 4:19).    Paul was so pained by the backsliding of the Galatians that he described it as being like childbirth!  Later on, in chapter 5 he says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (v. 6).   Every professing Christian would say a hearty amen to that.  But he then goes on to add “You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?  That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.  ‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough’.  I am confident in the Lord you will take no other view”.

I have seen that individual Christians stumble and fall in ‘the race’,  (and indeed had the joy of seeing fallen Christians restored), but what lies heavy on the heart is when any part of the church heads down the road to hell.   I could give you a long list of churches which have fallen by the wayside…and organisations which started off so well – as evangelical organisations, but then they.. oh, so slowly but surely… turn away from their sure foundation.  As Paul experienced, this is something that has always happened. In recent weeks I have watched as the decay in the Western church continues – especially in the UK and the USA.  Now we have to be really careful here – we are not talking about Christians who have disagreements with one another about secondary issues, or those who go through hard times, fears and doubt.  There is an extremist point of view which sees every disagreement as apostasy, and every doubt as denial;  but that in itself is a negation of the Gospel – because it adds to it.  However, what I am concerned with here is those who take away from the Gospel and turn it into ‘another Gospel, which is no Gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7).

What brought this to mind was this article on the Premier Christian website.  How Joe Biden’s Christian faith will change America.   Feel free to read the whole article, but it really shook me to see it published on an Evangelical Christian website.

Why?

It wasn’t the political bias, the mockery of Trump, the repetition of unevidenced gossip and the contrasting the good saintly Joe Biden,  with the evil, wicked President Trump.  That has become so common on some Christian websites (as is the reverse position on others), that it is unremarkable.  What really struck home was the headline and tenor of the article that a Christian president has now been elected, whose Christian faith will change America.

We are assured that ‘faith will play a larger part in Biden’s presidency than Trump’s’.     Apart from the cheap jibe about Trump, using an unsubstantiated piece of gossip, the ‘evidence’ that was offered to substantiate this claim was, to say the least, weak.

“together, on eagle’s wings, we embark on the work that God and history have called upon us to do, with faith in America and each other”

The claim is that Biden is a man of deep faith whose Catholic faith has sustained him.  The evidence for this is that he carries rosary beads around with him and cited the hymn Eagles Wings by Michael Joncas.  There is no doubt that Biden has ‘faith’ but whether it is Christian faith or not is highly debatable – at least on the evidence given in this article (and everything else I have read by and about him). The author cites this as evidence of the Christian faith that will change America.    “together, on eagle’s wings, we embark on the work that God and history have called upon us to do, with faith in America and each other” (That’s a long way from Psalm 91 – on which Eagles Wings is based)…

We are told that ‘faith’ has carried Biden through.  But it is not faith in God, Christ or his Word.  It is  “faith in America and each other”.  This is the faith he wants to spread.  A Christian faith has faith in Christ….not faith in a country (that’s what we call religious nationalism – and its consequences are usually dreadful – whether from right or left), nor in ‘each other’ (that’s a meaningless soundbite, which, if anyone actually believes it, will result in disillusionment and disappointment). In fact, the whole statement is an example of a Messianic and arrogant hubristic view which is guaranteed to end in failure.  Repentance, humility and faith in Christ have no room in this kind of ‘Christian’ faith.

Even more astonishingly we are assured that Biden’s Christian faith which will change America will have no impact upon some of his policies – not least abortion. Biden says he isn’t “prepared to impose a precise view that is borne out of my faith on other people.”  But the author tells us that it is Biden’s Christian faith which informs his other policies – and in these he is more ‘pro-life’ than Trump.  Biden also says his “idea of self, of family, of community, of the wider world comes straight from my religion”.  The author says that it is this faith which comes across time-and-time again in his major policy departures from Donald Trump. Why the inconsistency?   Why cite your Christian faith when it supports policies you hold, but ignore it when it goes against other policies you advocate?  And why would any Christian fall for this nonsense, let alone advocate it?

Doctrine from Hell

But then came the real descent into Hell.  Biden says he believes that human life is “convened at the moment of conception” but says he won’t be “ruled by his beliefs”!  This is an astonishing statement.  I can understand people who think that the baby in the womb is not really a baby saying that they support abortion – after all to them, it’s not taking human life.  (I can understand them – but deplore their fundamentalist anti-scientific, inhumane ignorance).  But what is far worse is someone who says that the baby in the womb IS human life, but they are prepared to sanction the State taking that human life because they don’t want to be ruled by their beliefs!   It reminds me of Groucho Marx’s “these are my principles, but if you don’t like them, I have others’!”    Mr Biden believes that slavery and racism are wrong – but apparently, he does not want to be ruled by his beliefs – so on what basis does he think racism and slavery should be banned?  Indeed, on what basis does he make policy – political expediency?!  Remember that Biden’s policy is to have state funded abortion on demand, for any reason, up to full term.  One Catholic priest even courageously and consistently refused him communion on the grounds that “any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching”.  Just think about what the writer of this article is commending as Christian faith – someone who believes that the State taking innocent human life is fine!  

Pro-Life?

And this is ‘the Christian faith that is going to change America’?  We are then told that Biden is the ‘pro-life’ candidate on every other issue.  Although admittedly by this point the words ‘pro-life’ have become devoid of meaning.  The author cites policies on poverty, immigration, climate change as ‘Christian’ policies.  Whilst I may agree with Biden’s policies on these issues, I don’t think I would have the nerve to claim them as having divine warrant.  Christians will all agree that we should care for the poor, look after the refugee and steward the planet – the question is ‘how’ we do that.  Someone who believes in national borders is not necessarily less Christian than someone who doesn’t.  Someone who thinks that climate change is not best dealt with by more windmills and getting rid of the oil industry is not necessarily a Christian heretic!    According to Biden there is a special preference to the poor.  If it was as obvious as that, one has to ask why did so many working-class people vote for the millionaire Donald Trump and not for the millionaire Joe Biden?   Is this an example of the middle-class paternalism and virtue signalling that thinks the poor are too stupid to know what is best for themselves?

Distorting the Gospel

My problem here is not with the politics.  Whilst I think it is unwise and foolish for a Christian organisation to endorse or support a particular political party or leader – that’s not a first order issue.  What is a first order issue is when the Gospel is changed in order to accommodate political views.  I have already argued that it was wrong to refer to Donald Trump as the Christian president.  Whilst many of his policies will resonate with most Christians – it would be foolish not to recognise that his support of these was largely a matter of political expediency designed to win votes – not a matter of personal conviction.

Yet the author of the article says that Biden’s faith is Christian faith.  And that’s what really got to me.  This is not about faith in Christ. It is at best a works religion with little to do with Jesus, at worst a horrible substitution of the Christian good news of salvation through faith in Christ,  to a George Michaelesque ‘you gotta have faith’.    It is a caricature of real Christianity (as is Paula White’s Prosperity Gospel that so appeals to Trump).

A Warning?

Twitter have taken to putting warnings on Donald Trump’s tweets with comments like “This claim about election fraud is disputed”.   I wish that we could put these articles out with a warning stamp ‘this article’s claim to represent the Christian gospel is disputed’.

If a Christian magazine published an article justifying racism and stating it was a ‘version of the Gospel’ then it would rightly be denounced.  When an article like this is published, is it not an indication of how little we value or know the Gospel?  When Premier ran an article about the ‘faith’ of Kamala Harris it was a much more balanced and Christian article. Click here to read about the faith of Kamala Harris

Who Cares?

We are back to where we came in.  Why care about this?  Why not just shut up and get on with life? The trouble is that when you write an article like this, people immediately see it as a kind of turf war – unnecessary arguing and disputes.  We tend to avoid these like the plague – and so we speak in code or just shrug our shoulders and walk on by.  But this is necessary because it is about the One thing necessary. It is about the turning of the beautiful good news of Christ into something ugly.  Of course we should care. This IS life. This is eternal life.  And we are Pro-Eternal Life!  Christ is real – everything else without him is surreal.

Christ is beautiful.  Christ is the Messiah.  Christ is the Son of God. Christ is the prophet, priest and king.  He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and the lion of Judah who rules it.  He is the one who came into the world, to give his life for the world, that we might be saved.  He calls us to repentance and faith – in Him.  When we do then we are given new life and we seek to live for him and his glory – not ourselves. The consequences and fruit of this are not just renewed personal lives, but a world turned upside down – social justice, education, family,  care for the poor, and for the planet and so much more.  When we turn the fruit into the root – and think that we can get it without the root – we distort, deceive and destroy the Gospel.  That is why Paul was so strong against the Galatians.  He praised the Corinthians – despite their tolerating sexual immorality in their church.  He praised the Philippians – despite the factional division amongst them.  The only church he does not praise in any of his epistles is the Galatian church.  Why?  Because they were deserting the Gospel.

We have been far too tolerant in the evangelical church of those who distort the Gospel (whether legalists or liberals).   We copy the world and play political power games which result in nothing but our own glory (and destruction).    We need to be much more discerning – and radical about what we support and promote.   Sometimes the Christian church, media and institutions have been our own worst enemy.    I like Premier and have benefited a lot from some of their work.  Sam Hailes is a good editor of the magazine and Justin Brierly is one the best presenters of a radio show (Unbelievable) that I have come across.  But heresy usually comes into the church through our friends, not our enemies.  As Paul warned the Ephesian elders it was from their own number that  “men will arise and distort the truth’ (Acts 20:30).  He called such men ‘savage wolves.  It is the job of the shepherd to protect the flock from such wolves – not to open the gate!    Paul felt so passionately about this, that for three years he warned them day and night with tears.  Such passion!  I wonder what we are passionate about.  I suspect that some of us have wondered so far that we have expended more passion over the election of an American President, than we have in seeking God’s elect!

Come, Lord Jesus….!

Just as many are looking for a day when we will have a vaccine and Covid 19 and its restrictions will be no more, so as Christians we long for the ultimate day, when sin, death and disease will be no more. That will be a day when the church is no longer in the agony of birth, and the pangs of growth, being attacked from outwith and within.  It will be a day when the Bride is perfect.  Until that glorious consummation, we battle on – knowing that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against Christ’s church.

See you next week,

David

Letter from Australia 68 – The  Church as a Safe Space and Jacaranda Trees

Biden, Trump and the Great Evangelical Disaster – CT

 

 

 

 

 

28 comments

  1. Thank you, David, for speaking so plainly. I despair of so many of our so-called evangelical leaders who fail on these issues. My prayer is that the Lord will raise up someone to call our countries to repentance. Oh that He might be pleased to bring a revival – though that will challenge us all. God bless you. John.

  2. Hi David, another well written and poignant article exposing the hypocrisy and a form of Christianity but without the gospel of our Lord, ultimately worthless. God bless.

    John

  3. Hi David, this may not be something you would want to post to everyone, but it relates very much to your article. It is a Catholic priest speaking of Joe Biden’s variation from the Catholic church’s teaching. I think it would be good to listen to the whole thing to understand the speakers intentions, but if time is a factor he start’s speaking about Biden at the 10:00 mark. The youtube link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi1pHExl6Ug

    On another issue, fraud in the US election, this piece was breaking news on the Fox network two days ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRiB6pO1G9s&feature=emb_logo
    Blessings in Christ,
    Layne

    1. Thanks for posting. I had missed this interview. Praying for the USA. So much deception in high places. How can we fight against it when the corruption goes all the way to the Justice Department who should be investigating cases of election fraud and other illegal activities. Pray for that truth will triumph so that liberty will not be lost.

  4. The social rage of Biden’s BLM and Antifa supporters , combined with the fact that the majority of immigrants (both legal and illegal) to the US are from Catholic Latin America are surely America – changing drivers.

    Some things will not change , e.g., the immense power of the Jewish 1.9% of the US population .

    Here’s why : the Old Testament message to Jews was solely about in – group love and concern while the New Testament message to Gentiles was solely about out – group love and concern.

    1. If only Jewish people had immense power, then we wouldn’t experience all the antisemitism that is so prevalent in the US, particularly on campuses and in the liberal news media, notably the likes of the New York Times and CNN who, like the Guardian in the UK, seem to think like Hitler that the only good Jews are dead ones.
      As our faith is totally dependent on the death and resurrection of a Jew, Jesus, who was killed by the Romans, not by the Jews, I find your attitude quite worrying. (I also find it profoundly ironic that some Roman Catholics still call Jews Christ-killers, given that it was the Roman Pontius Pilate who ordered Jesus’ execution.)
      However you seem to be setting up the Old and New Testaments as being in opposition to each other rather than both being part of God’s revelation to us. Surely what you are describing is not Christianity but Gnosticism, which was condemned as heresy by the early Church. The God of the Bible is one who has graciously used the Jewish people to exhibit His faithfulness to all mankind and their return to Him will be like life from the dead, as Paul tells us in Romans chapter 11.
      Sorry for such a lengthy reply, but you need to consider carefully what gospel it is that you are proclaiming, because all Scripture (including the whole Old Testament) is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16.

      1. The idea that the New York Times is anti – Semitic is ludicrous . Here are the company’s 12 Directors , only four of whom are not Jewish , viz, Bhutani , Denham , McAndrews and Rogers : https://www.nytco.com/board-of-directors/ Not a bad Jewish representation from 1.9% of the US population.

        As for ” anti – Semitic” CNN , it is ,for now, controlled by the widely – held Texas – based AT&T Corp , but the day – to – day running of the channel is the responsibility of this Jewish gentleman : https://edition.cnn.com/profiles/jeff-zucker-profile

        Re the execution of Jesus , Pilate doubtless regarded the whole sorry business as a threat to the ideal of a well – ordered outpost of Empire and was content to acquiesce in the Sanhedrin’s decision.

  5. “We are told that ‘faith’ has carried Biden through.” David, I think you are leaving out crucial information here. And this means that of course you will be disappointed with what you think the article says. The article says that ‘faith’ carried Biden through something — what was it?
    I confess to a certain disappointment as well — that in a “Letter from Australia” you didn’t mention Naidoc Week, bushfire in South Australia and the coronavirus situation in Victoria.

    1. I also didn’t mention the trade war with China, the UK coronavirus situation, the war in Nagorno-Karbkah, murders in Sydney, domestic violence in the NT, Covid in New Zealand, ABC and its expose of sex scandals…..what do you want? Blood? Its called letter from Australia not book from Australia – and I usually only deal with one subject. Meanwhile here is a dictionary definition for you – which will help explain why post such as this in the future will not be posted. I don’t have the time! “nitpicker – someone who makes small and unjustified criticisms critic – someone who frequently finds fault or makes harsh and unfair judgments”

  6. David ,still processing your heart felt words …
    Jesus wept ,the shortest verse in the Bible ,correct me if I’m wrong?
    We need to know which side we are on now .
    There can be no more lukewarm Christains .
    It’s a clear choice now :Repent,Return or Run….
    Have Mercy Lord!

  7. We don’t have to worry about whether Trump or Biden is a saint or an unrepentant sinner. To the extent that the POTUS is like a king, the Lord, in his “providence”, directs his thoughts, in that capacity, like a watercourse directs water. (A watercourse is like a pipe, but without a top. A pipe makes water go where it is wanted by ensuring that there is nowhere else for it to go. A watercourse, in contrast, is designed by somebody clever who understands physics, to make water go where it is wanted, along the watercourse, always downhill, never splashing out of the channel, because there is nowhere else the water can “choose” to go in its circumstances, because water doesn’t have a mind of its own, it behaves predictably.)

    Whatever God thinks of Biden or Trump, we ought to be concerned with truth.

    The office of POTUS dates from the 18th century. POTUS isn’t a job that is still fit for any good purpose in the 21st century except maintaining the illusion that the masses know who wields power over them, that the powerful in this world are the politicians whose faces they see on telly and for whom they are allowed to vote occasionally (or against in some countries), and that the most powerful man in the world is one of these politicians, the present POTUS, whoever that may be.

    Trump, whilst he is still the POTUS, has recently faced a situation in which the mythical, mighty POTUS of the illusion (as opposed to the real, feeble POTUS whose reflection Trump sees in the mirror), would have ordered an investigation on the part of non-partisan police officers and expert statisticians, aimed at discovering scientifically, to any required degree of accuracy, the extent to which the recent election in which he had been a candidate had been free and fair, and who had won it, if all genuine votes were counted, and no fraudulent votes were counted. The findings of such an independent, professional and scholarly investigation would either inform a decision on Trump’s part to concede defeat to Biden, letting the premature coronation of Biden as vice president by the media stand, or they would prove to the courts that the true winner had been Trump after all.

    As far as I know, and despite some nagging from me, Trump hasn’t ordered the necessary investigation or asked the courts to order it. There are several possibilities that I can see.

    (1) Perhaps Trump has discovered that he cannot order such an investigation. If so, so much for “the most powerful man in the world” theory. If the POTUS cannot order an investigation aimed at discovering to what extent an election in the USA has been free and fair and whether any fraud discovered would be capable of perverting the outcome, then who can?

    (2) Perhaps he has not thought of ordering, or asking the SCOTUS to order, such an investigation. If so, good riddance. He’s obviously not up to the job.

    (3) Perhaps Trump has all the power he needs and knows what he could and ought to do, but he simply doesn’t *want* to ensure that the election of the next president will have been free and fair. I hope not. I wonder why he’d want to lose, and for American democracy to fall into such disrepute.

    (4) Perhaps Trump has ordered the necessary investigation and announced this, but the media and those who censor internet content aren’t letting us discover this.

    (5) Perhaps Trump sees no point in publicising what he is doing.

    (6) Perhaps Trump has already ordered an investigation and announced this and some of the press have already published this, but I haven’t read about this yet.

    Those are the only possibilities that I can think of.

    1. As the law firm President Trump chose to work on the election fraud issues took the job and then backed out, it would appear difficult as the Democrats are saying they are compiling a list for punishment of those who help him! He is also being blocked on Twitter, Fox News deserted him and are paying the price by Republicans withdrawing their subscription. Rudy Guiliani is dealing with court issues. However, a huge number rallied in Washington to support him at the weekend. Newsmax is picking up Republican customers from Fox.

      1. There is a body of evidence that could in theory be accessed that would establish scientifically which candidate won the election (if either), on the balance of probabilities, if all valid votes are counted, but no fraudulent votes. I shall await the final outcome of all the lawsuits, including any that (your link implies) have been dismissed at first instance, but which I expect to see appealed.

        I disagree with the narrative that says that Joe Biden is already the President-elect and that there is no evidence of electoral fraud.

      2. John, I’m just interested in knowing which of your 6 possibilities the piece from Politico represents.

  8. America has healed its divisions in previous decades when wars such as Vietnam and Iraq bifurcated political opinion. Of course these divisions were not as overtly racial in nature.

    President Trump surely deserves credit for keeping the USA ( and by extension UK ) out of wars which he inherited, thus adhering to a Christian principle , however absentmindedly.

  9. David,
    I think that your heavy heart over the Premiere Article is a reflection of the risk Christians run when they enter the sphere of politics, or at least political commentary. It can reveal the stance of the authors/ editors to matters of substantial Christian concern which might otherwise be hidden, and may open up their deeper Christian convictions on Augustine v Arminius schools of TULIP.
    In short, we then start to weigh and them and their Christianity by their politics.
    My assessment of Brierly is as yours, but I’d not be surprised if he didn’t have reformed convictions.
    But now, I’m starting to pigeonhole people.
    As for any politician of any stripe, it is almost impossible for them to be consistent across all spheres, for them to carry as it were, a whole grande master chess game in their heads. To mix metaphors, there are always threads of fallacies that when pulled unravel a carefully crafted patterns based on a mess of potage of principles.
    It seems that the US and the West are always looking for Saviour Heads of state.
    I recall NHS colleagues being cock-a-hoop at the election of Obama as a dawning of a new age for the west and the world.
    All our idols have feet of clay.

  10. A little off-topic but this just caught my eye on the news tonight: it is interesting the Vic state government is now doing this:

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-16/victoria-certificates-to-recognise-early-pregnancy-loss/12886850

    After all, if abortion isn’t murder as these liberals like to claim and foetuses aren’t human, why would people grieve a miscarriage? There is so much in the way of double standards and blatant hypocrisy these days. 🙁

  11. Thank you, David, I do agree, and also thanks for posting the link on your twitter feed to Fr Ed Meeks’ very sobering homily. Well worth listening to..

  12. As a citizen of the U.S. and a Christian, I could not in good conscience vote for Joe Biden because of his stand for abortion, his stand to support homosexuality and his general corruption which has been proven even though the MSM won’t report on it. I am still praying for the outcome of our election and hope that you will do so as well since there were a great many shenanigans going on and the MSM called the winner before the outcome in the contested states was resolved. I pray for our nation, regardless of the outcome, because the left thinks that they can always get their way by burning and looting and destroying. The latest election has us looking like a banana republic with the winner declared before there is a real winner.

    1. What exactly would you like homosexuals to do I wonder?

      Renounce their sexual attraction, live lives devoid of sexual expression, to be quiet?

      1. To behave the same as hetrosexuals who are not married – don’t have sex outside marriage and remember that, contrary to our cultures philosophy, sex is neither recreational nor necessary to have a fulfilled and happy life.

  13. Thank you for this David it is spot on, it is so frustrating that such an article could be published by Christian media. How anyone can state that they believe that life begins at conception but that they are ok with people having the right to kill that life while it is in the womb is beyond comprehension. I hear this argument all the time, that what matters is policies that look after the “born” from people (sometimes even Christians) who refuse to face the fact that abortion is murder.

  14. Long before President Trump or President Elect Biden appeared on the scene, the Bible and subsequent church history is jam packed with flawed leaders and out and out scoundrels.
    The one thing they all have in common is that they have their place in God’s plan. If He found a use for the likes of King David, He can find a use for Joe Biden.
    I have lost count of the number of times my dudgeon has been heightened by things you have said in “The Weeflea”, only to find God speaking to me through your words a couple of days later. Perhaps, if he can find a use for you…………. 🙂

    God bless and keep up the flawed work.

  15. I love the good kindly (genuinely benevolent) tone in this article. We must remember that God allows governments to be led by folk of no faith, and by folk who love Him and want to serve Him.
    We are urged to pray for them anyway!

    Even when a person’s faith is in Christ alone, and when they seek to serve the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and their orthodoxy is closely aligned to Scripture plainly interpreted – even then, sadly we may disagree over some issues.

    You are right, I think, to want to distinguish between “Faith” and “Faith in God, through Christ”.

    In a fallen world, would any politician in a democracy be able to create an ethos completely congruent with Christian Faith? Apart from what Biden may believe, it is unlikely hat he can construct a New Jerusalem, A Reformed Geneva or a benevolent Vatican in a democratic USA – or anywhere else.

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