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This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In The News: A “More Diverse Context”

inthenewsAn article in the January 3 New York Times related the religious convictions of Tom and Claudia Riner of Louisville, KY.

Tom is the pastor of a small Baptist church, and has served as a Democratic representative in the Kentucky state legislature for the past 26 years. He is constantly introducing legislation that is designed to keep faith in God at the center of government and society. As such, he and his wife are constantly opposed by such groups as the ACLU, and have had numerous pieces of legislation overturned by the Supreme Court.

The article, written by Ian Urbina is very interesting. It details the Riner’s views regarding the separation of church and state, as well as the response of others to the Riner’s efforts. For example, Riner is quoted as saying, “The church-state divide is a line I do not see. What I do see is an attempt to separate America from its history of perceiving itself as a nation under God.”

There is some truth to what Riner says. The separation of church and state, while definitely a foundational principle of our government, has too often been interpreted as freedom from religion rather than freedom of religion. As our society becomes more secular, and more diverse religiously, outright antagonism toward Christian faith is on the increase. Remember, too, that the principle of the separation of church and state is a civil doctrine, not a biblical one. If such a principle ultimately interferes with our obligation to God, we must “obey God rather than men” (cf. Acts 5:29).

More important is the response of Riner’s opposition. The one adversary quoted in the article was state Senator Kathy W. Stein, another Democrat, who said, “Tom is as pious as he is persistent. He’s also prone to legislative stunts that are embarrassing and expensive for this state.”

While the objection to the expense seems to be legitimate, (the Kentucky legislature has been successfully sued on several occasions by the ACLU), the more interesting term used by Stein is “embarrassing.” It seems that our society is willing to put up with Christians in their place, but their place is certainly not in positions of authority and influence in our society. Alaskan governor Sarah Palin was virulently attacked for expressing her belief in the Genesis account as literal and historical. Many today believe that such a conviction alone is sufficient to brand you an idiot, and unworthy of serious consideration for national office.

Ms. Stein, the State Assembly’s only Jewish member, was further quoted, “Just because the nation’s forefathers held certain views about God does not mean that all of those views fit today’s more diverse context.”

Herein lies the danger facing us in this country at this time. The Christian faith is by nature exclusionary. This is obvious from the words of our Lord, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). If the Christian faith is true, then all other religions are fraudulent. That does not mean that men do not have the right to believe differently, it just is a valid statement regarding the relative value of the various religions.

This view is unacceptable to many in our time. Today, diversity is the rule, and no intolerant expressions of faith will be tolerated! A belief in Christ is simply not acceptable because the view does not “fit today’s more diverse context.” Christians should be aware of the changing attitudes a secular society has toward us and our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.