In recent studies in the book of Hebrews, I have been forced to think a great deal about apathy in terms of not only our commitment to teach the gospel alone, but in our defense of the gospel. Today, one of the largest costs of the apathy that has infected the church was brought to my attention. A little back story is in order:
On Monday of this past week, I was simply browsing the internet and looking at possibly continuing my education. One of the stops I decided to make was at Heritage Christian University‘s website. This was for three reasons: I have friends who are dear to me and who have or are attending that university, the congregation I attend sends financial support to that university, and my wife and I have recently looked into joining a cover school based out of HCU as part of our future homeschooling effort (more on that to come). As I caroused their website I noticed something very disturbing though. On the homepage was a link to a fundraiser with former First Lady Laura Bush. Of course, as soon as I read her name my memory went to the media storm that occurred last week when Laura Bush came out as being both pro-choice and pro-gay marriage as well as the recent “Warren-Gate ” issue that has surrounded John Piper and his Desiring God Conference. I realize that she has since said that people have mixed her words but the video below should quickly squash that lie.
Knowing personally many of the members of HCU’s board of directors and current instructors I immediately gave HCU the benefit of the doubt. My thoughts were that these things must be arranged way in advance but that surely since she made her comments, HCU had decided to call Bush into repentance and cancel the event barring a retraction of her statements. Wanting to be sure before I contacted HCU, I phoned the campus and asked “is the Laura Bush fundraiser still happening at your University?” the response was a quick “Yes.” I asked, “really, in light of her recent comments?” I was then informed that the University had sent her letters about her statements but that because of her work with reading to children, the fundraiser would be going forward. I hung up very saddened.
I have since been informed that the information I received was less than accurate and that a decision is forthcoming. Regardless, I have requested that the elders of my church and encouraged other Christians to withdraw their financial support from HCU until their final decision is made and if she is allowed to go ahead and speak, that the support be withdrawn completely. That is something the now deceased discerning Lutheran Walter Martin called the gospel of the pocket book. It has amazing results. Out of respect for individuals I care deeply for, I am withholding further judgment on this exact matter but since this has happened I have caught wind of other fundraisers (especially a judges race in the area) that are being allowed to take place on that campus that should cause every church that sends support to HCU to question what is happening with their money they send to HCU. [In the heart of full disclosure I will state that I signed up to play in a golf tournament supporting HCU tomorrow. As I committed myself to that and others I feel that it would not be right to withdraw myself from that event and will be using my own money to pay the entrance fee for that event.]
This leads me to the point of this post: when did the church of Christ and it’s members become so apathetic? I ask this question as I myself was convicted of this today. I spoke for around an hour today with a member of the board of directors for HCU. I will not disclose the details of that conversation but will say that during the conversation the individual asked me several questions that stirred my soul. “Were you outraged when we had Sean Hannity at our fundraiser? Were you upset when we had Gene Stallings last year? Are you upset that Freed Hardeman University is having George Bush this year or that they had Barbara Bush in the past?” I could only answer honestly and that answer was no. No, I could have cared less that two schools which the Church of Christ claims to be sending out teachers of the gospel allows apostates (I do not make that statement re: W or Stallings) to come and address their schools in the name of mammon. I didn’t really care that part of my contribution to my local church body was going to fund people who spread something that is not Biblical truth. I didn’t really care that in the name of money, places where my money was being sent were trading the scripture and the truth that people have died for and that Christ gave His life for in for celebrity and a big pay day. Money that I gave the church was being sent to support idolatry and I was apathetic about it. I stand and stood convicted.
I try to think about what the response to this would be by preachers I know who are now dead and gone. I try to imagine if the people in charge of this event could look their past teachers in the eyes and answer why they would even have to think twice about this matter. Yes, the school does stand to lose money by canceling the event and could even face lawsuits. Yet, should the church that claims to have a mission of restoring New Testament Christianity even weigh such an issue when it comes for standing for the gospel and the inerrant truth that is the Bible? How dare we worry about out pocket books when we know and read of the brutal deaths of Paul, Peter, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, most remain apathetic, not really caring one way or another about this issue. Have we forgotten Christ’s promise to us that if we seek the kingdom first, all these other matters that the pagan world is doomed to be concerned with, will be added to us (Luke 12:22-34). What has happened to the church? Where are those who will stand up for the gospel in spite of a paycheck? What has come of Paul’s thoughts regarding taking a financial loss in the name of being able to preach the truth where he write in 1 Corinthians 9:12 “…we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.”
As I said before, my thoughts go to the book of Hebrews where the unknown author, addressing a second century Roman church, the preacher of this great sermon of exhortations states:
“You must remember those early days when after you had received the light, you had to go through a great struggle with persecution, sometimes being actually exposed as a public spectacle to insults and violence, and sometimes showing yourselves ready to share the lot of those in that condition. For you showed sympathy for those who were in prison, and you put up with it cheerfully when your property was taken from you, for you knew that you had in yourselves a greater possession that was lasting. You must not lose your courage, for it will be richly rewarded, but you will need endurance if you are to carry out God’s will and receive the blessing he has promised [10:32-36].
Just as the church in Hebrews was under attack by others, one of our Christian universities is under attack by secular thought. Satan is literally beating down the door and while we trust in Christ’s promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church, we must remember in Hebrews 3:6 where the preacher says to the apathetic church:
“Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, IF we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.”
Is it not safe to say that if HCU allows this obvious error to go forward, which as I see it would be a faithless and cowardly move that neither holds to the courage or hope that the church is to boast of, that we can divorce that institution as no longer being “His house.” The formula for that thought process is found in the scripture above. As I said before, I reserve judgment on this matter based upon knowledge that a full decision has not been made up to this point, but having scripture on our side, the amount of time necessary to make a decision on this matter should be quick compared to the slow decision making process shown by the HCU board of directors. Every second wasted where people are allowed to believe that HCU is hosting, paying, and using a woman who holds heretical beliefs is another second that the body of Christ is given a black eye. Titus 2:7-8 reminds us that though autonomous in our churches:
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
Is HCU part of the “US” that Paul was reminding Titus of? We shall see. As I ended my conversation today with the member of HCU’s board I posed two scenarios and asked: “For which of these two will the angels of Heaven rejoice?”
- HCU decides that the risk of lawsuit and the immediate financial loss they will face by not allowing Laura Bush to speak at their fundraiser is too great. Due to these fears, they go ahead with the event and Laura Bush, although maybe muted on the matters in question, is used by HCU to raise money.
- HCU stands up and calls Laura Bush to repentance for her remarks asking her to publicly withdraw her statements or not be allowed to speak or take their money, some of which she already has. The University makes a statement to the world stating that despite facing financial loss, the risk of lawsuit, being labeled old-fashioned, and having to scramble to find another speaker, that they must stand up for the truth as laid out in scripture. They will not allow any worldly concern to cause them to stray from the truth of scripture that Christ and his apostles suffered and died to bring to us 2000 years earlier.
For which will they rejoice?
My thoughts on this matter is that this is a call to the whole church. What we see here is a fruit of years of becoming less and less discerning and particular about who we allow to address our flock. Sadly, we have allowed a precedent to be set that allows individuals to ask why one is upset about one apostate teacher but not another a few years earlier. The church in general needs to repent of this apathy. I need to repent of this apathy. From this day forward we need to remember who we are and the MULTIPLE warnings in scripture addressing allowing wolves in sheep’s clothing to prowl among our flocks. This holds especially true as the dominion theology of today is attempting to infiltrate the church. Today needs to be the day that we repent to our God and commit ourselves back to the mission that Christ set before us in Matthew 28:18-20. He is with US always.
No, this will not be easy and there will be a price to pay. For HCU it will be financial, for others it will vary. I have already paid a price today. As I stated above, my family was looking into and evaluated a homeschool cover school based out of HCU. While we had not made a decision to apply yet (and our doubts were great based on some of what we saw), today, due to my decision to end my apathy, I recieved this e-mail today:
name deleted and I feel that you would be better served with another home school program other than Heritage Christian School.
We wish you the best in your homeschooling experience.
I believe the words of my wife sum up this entire situation. She sent me this e-mail today in response to me forwarding her the above e-mail:It’s a sad state when Christians are admonished for upholding truth by other Christians all for the sake of a building in which to meet. And we wonder why the church is now in such a compromised position as to have lost all its authority and respect amongst the general public. So, when do you plan on doing that three-part series on the centrality of Christ to the individual, home and CHURCH? Regardless, I guess I have my answer now about what to do. Prayers are answered.