Excerpts from The Four Pillars of the Kingdom  by Joe Brooks (aka Immaccon)
And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take upon thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord – Hosea 1:2
It is a sad irony that the United States, a nation that has the greatest percentage of self-professing Christians of any nation in the world, may also be one of the most morally hollow nations, as well. According to a Pew Poll on Religion and Public Life, over 75% of Americans call themselves a Christian of some denomination. Yet, only 56% say their religion is an important aspect of their lives. Let that in consistency sink in for a mo me nt. large portions of people who call themselves Christians do not consider their faith to be an important aspect of their lives.
I disagree with the conclusions reached by atheists, but I see their logic. I can track their thought pattern from point A to point B. But, this statistic leaves me dumbfounded. Its one thing to deny the existence of a Supreme Being and live a materialistic life based upon the now, upon satisfying only your own needs or tending to the worldly needs of your loved ones. That behavior is consistent with one’s belief system. However, to profess a belief in God, as 75% of us claim to, but to relegate Him to an afterthought, a secondary concern, is borderline blasphemy.
I think the inconsistency is accounted for by another statistic. In that same study, it was found that only 39% of us regularly attend a church service. The sad fact is that most of us depend upon the church service for nearly, if not all, of our time spent with God. Praise, prayer, study, community with fellow believers, all of the vital aspects of our spiritual life, are too often confined to one building, on one morning, once a week. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that, with church attendance so low, that many of us consider our faith less important than our job, our friends and family, even our hobbies.
Many of us approach church in the same manner in which our children approach school: doing the bare minimum possible and complaining about any homework. And so, if we enter into God’s presence only once a week, it is no wonder that so many of us don’t consider our faith to be an important part of our lives. It is not a relationship; it is a weekly appointment.
So, why the incongruity between whom we say we are and the faith we claim to have? Simple, our “Christianity” is, to a great degree, more of a social construct than it is a personal relationship. It is the institution bequeathed to us by our parents; a responsibility to maintain and upkeep rather than a faith and relationship that we strive to cultivate. As such, for many of us, our approach to our spiritual life has more in common with standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew our driver’s license than it does with a growing and intensifying lifelong love affair with Jesus Christ.
I don’t like going to the DMV and I sure don’t want a DMV church. No one who calls himself or herself a Christian should settle for that.
You Are Not My People…
As Americans, we find ourselves very much in the same position that the prophet Hosea encountered when God directed him to speak out against the Northern Kingdom of Israel. After the death of King Solomon, Israel divided into two separate nations: the Southern Kingdom, also as known as Judah, under Solomon’s son, Rehoboam; and the Northern Kingdom, known as Israel. The tribes of the north had refused to accept Rehoboam as the rightful successor to the throne and seceded from the kingdom.
After sixty years of war between the two kingdoms, there was an alliance established that largely ended the hostilities. Israel enjoyed a time of relative peace and prosperity. However, unlike Judah in the south, their actions showed that they had turned away from the God they had previously professed to follow. The Northern Kingdom turned to idolatry; they became a nation of violence, political disputes (including the assassination of rivals), arrogance, and ingratitude. They were also financially and militarily dependent upon other nations in order to maintain their safety and standard of living. A disarmament treaty with Damascus greatly limited their ability to field an army and their tribute payments to Assyria ate away at the nation’s wealth.
God, through Hosea, called Israel to repent. Hosea married a prostitute to symbolize how Israel had become an unfaithful bride. God’s words to Israel should be a wake up call to the 44% of Americans who claim to be Christian but also fail to consider their faith an important part of their lives:
Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and committing adultery, they break out and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish with the beasts of the field…
Perhaps those words should be a wake up call to every one of us. Those words could easily be spoken to the United States of America, right now.
Once Israel had turned away from God and turned to idolatry and to their own selfish desires, the Lord spoke through Hosea by the naming of one of his sons: “Then said God, call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.” What frightening words to hear from our Lord. However, those words fell upon deaf ears. The result was the end of the nation of Israel. God used the armies of Assyria to pass judgment and the Northern Kingdom disappeared into the dust of history. About a century later, the Babylonians would conquer the people of the Southern Kingdom; however, they would maintain their identity and their faith and would be reinstated into their homeland. The people of the Northern Kingdom were scattered throughout the lands of the conquering Assyrian empire, their history, their culture, their way of life were simply no more. They were wiped off the face of the earth for having turned their backs on God, embracing idolatry and living a life of sin and violence.
But we’re the United States. That can’t happen to us; we’re a “Christian” nation! In reality, we are no t so different from the people of Israel.
Sadly, in America the divorce rate among self- professed Christians is not markedly less than it is among non-Christians. Consider the terrible irony that the covenant of marriage, the human relationship that symbolizes Christ’s relationship with His church, is just as fragile amongst His own people as it is among those who deny Him. Perhaps our infidelity to each other stems from our infidelity to the Bridegroom. If we cannot be faithful to Christ, what is the likelihood that we will ever be able to be faithful to each other? If anything, divorce seems to be the common denominator across all faiths in the United States. Protestant, Catholic, evangelical, non- evangelical and atheist or agnostic; the statistics are virtually identical. If there were a Scriptural bias against divorce, one would never know it by looking at actions of the church. The stigma of divorce, whether it is social or religious, has all but vanished.
Roughly the same percentage of young, unmarried Christians who believe that pre-marital sex is morally wrong (76%), still choose to do it with few stopping at just one partner and many, more than 25%, involving an abortion. Increasingly, children born to unwed parents are the norm.
The Old Testament tells of a certain pagan god that many peoples throughout the region worshipped: the god Moloch. The Ammonites, the Canaanites, Phoenicians, even as far away as Carthage, practiced the worship of Moloch. Moloch even finds his way into John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” Throughout the Old Testament, Jehovah expressly forbids the worship of Moloch, under the punishment of death. The worship of this pagan god is one of the practices common in the Northern Kingdom of Israel that brought down God’s Judgment upon them. Why such a strong reaction to this one of many competing regional deities? Because, the adherents of Moloch regularly practiced child sacrifice. The 12th century rabbi, Rashi, describes their ritual:
Moloch, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.
The most common reason to sacrifice one’s child to Moloch was in hopes that the pagan deity would bless the family with prosperity. In the hopes of financial gain, families would murder their own newborns. Thank God, we are so much more civilized than they…
Over 1 million (1,000,000) abortions are performed every year in the United States. Forty percent of minors who have had an abortion claim that their parents never even knew. It is estimated that, at current rates, nearly 1/3 of all American women will eventually have an abortion. Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v Wade, there have been over 50 million abortions performed in the United States. That is more than the entire population of Spain and roughly the combined population of California and New York. What is the most common reason for having an abortion: money or, to be more precise, the lack of it. We will go into debt, take on a second job, beg, borrow, and steal to be able to afford a new car, a vacation, more high-tech toys, but a child is expendable. Fifty million children, sacrificed to Moloch, the 21st century pagan God of Choice.
In Paradise Lost, Milton describes Moloch as one of the fallen angels, a demon-warrior:
MOLOCH, horrid King besmear'd with blood Of human sacrifice, and parents tears, Though, for the noyse of Drums and Timbrels loud,
Their children's cries unheard that passed through fire
To his grim Idol
Thank God, we are so much more civilized than they…
At least half of us, including a majority of laypeople in the Catholic Church, support gay marriage and are open to homosexual couples adopting children. Two decades ago, homosexuality couldn’t even be mentioned in polite conversation now it provides the premise for sit-coms and parades down Main Street. In no issue in contemporary America, do we find a better example of the deification of the Self, the usurpation of God’s authority, than that of homosexuality. Paul says as much in Romans 1:24-27
Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason, God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
With homosexuality, we see God’s abandonment of the unrepentant sinner. We all sin, but few of us approach our sins like those who practice homosexuality. Could you ever imagine adulterers, liars, thieves, etc…asking for tolerance, for acceptance of their sinful acts? Would they ever ask for legal protections for their “right” to commit adultery, to steal? With homosexuality, you see the worst perversion of one of the greatest attributes of God: love. The acceptance of homosexuality by the church is the starkest and yet most subtle blasphemies of our age: the substitution of Godless love in place of the love of God.
The line that separates acceptable from unacceptable behavior is constantly being pushed further away from Biblical truths, all in the name of a manmade perversion of the love of God; and the further it moves out, the less likely we will ever be able to pull it back. We are simply inviting the abandonment wrath of God.
We are a nation of professed “Christians” and yet, at the same time, we are a nation of criminals and potential victims. Consider these FBI statistics for 2009:
Murders – 15,000
Rapes - 89,000
Aggravated Assaults – 800,000
Burglaries -- 2.2 million
Vehicle thefts – 800,000
Larceny-Thefts – 6 million
Do you suppose that the list of the 75% who claim to be Christians and the list of people committing the crimes mentioned above overlap at any point? Maybe that’s why church attendance is so low; people are too busy committing crimes!
In a nation that is 75% “Christian”:
5 out of 100,000 of us are murdered
30 out of 100,000 of us are raped
260 out of 100,000 of us are assaulted
3000 out of 100,000 of us have our property stolen
A quote often attributed to Billy Graham, but actually said by his wife Ruth, sums up the current spiritual climate in the United States very succinctly:
“…if God doesn't come soon and bring judgment upon the United States, He's going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!"
In fact, the United States may be much closer to being a pagan nation, as opposed to a Christian nation, than many people realize. In his book Futurecast, researcher George Barna tracked religious trends among Americans from 1991 to 2011. What is his chief finding: That the United States is quickly becoming a nation of "310 million people with 310 million religions…We are a designer society. We want everything customized to our personal needs — our clothing, our food, our education” and now our religion. More people are saying that they believe in “god” and may even accept Jesus Christ and believe that they are going to Heaven, but from there things get a little convoluted. Fewer and fewer people are going to church and only 7% believe in the in seven essential doctrines as defined by the National Association of Evangelicals' Statement of Faith:
1) We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
2) We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3) We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
4) We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is essential.
5) We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
6) We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
7) We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
What has emerged is a sort of “Christian influenced” buffet approach to spirituality in which the person’s needs are paramount and they pick and choose from the various beliefs systems what ever it is that suits them at the moment. If anything, what we have is a bizarre amalgamation of the post-modern suspicion of objective truth that seeks to de-mystify Jesus by reducing him to the level of just another moral teacher, but at the same time promotes other types of personal mysticism, individualized paths to some self-defined salvation. America is less of a Christian nation and more of an “emergent church” nation with the emphasis not on Christ as Christ, per se, but on Christ as one of many examples of how to live. As such, He could easily be replaced by Gandhi or Martin Luther King or even Che Guevara in many people’s minds and they wouldn’t miss a beat. Over 500 years after the Copernican Revolution, we have succeeded in putting Man back at the center of the universe but have left very little room for the Creator.
It’s hard to say which came first: the institutional Christian or the institutional church, but they feed off each other. Our nation is defined by the a la carte Christian who seeks comfort and affirmation and by the institutional pastorate that gives it to them in a doctrine-lite message meant to offend as few as possible. By prosperity preachers whose message is that a good life is one of material success and that the size of one's bank account is a reflection of your closeness to God; pastors who are afraid to stand up for the Word out of fear of offending their "mega-congregations" and thereby reducing their own "closeness to God," aka their cash flow. We have diminished and marginalized God and His principles in order to create a belief system that is about us, that is driven by daytime talk show hosts who peddle books by the latest guru and who pad their bank accounts by adding leaven to our already bloated sense of self-worth.
We are too seeker friendly and not Christ-centered nearly enough. We have more pastors concerned about winning congregants for themselves than we have those who are driven by a passion to bring people to God. Rather than being a corporate body that takes the Word to society, we are a Society of Individuals that infuses our own priorities into our religion. In doing so, we create a God based around ourselves; a protean deity that surrenders the truth to us only after it takes on our shape.
Like the people of Ninevah upon hearing the warnings of the reluctant prophet, Jonah, can we put a stop to our own destruction? What would it take? Simply put, it takes the people of God turning to Him. We can rail against politicians all we like, we can hold crooked businessmen up to scorn to our hearts’ content, we can point the finger of shame at non-Christians until our whited sepulchres shine brilliantly in the summer sun, and we are only assuring our own downfall. Scripture tells us very clearly how to heal our land. God’s people, who are called by His name, are to humble ourselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways; then He will hear from heaven, and will forgive our sins, and heal our land. But, can we do that as Institutional Christians, as DMV Christians? Can we truly do that if we don’t even know why or what we believe in the first place? Will we also be destroyed for a lack of knowledge?
Time is short. There is much to learn because there is much to share!