As a student of church history (I am not a church historian) and one who has tried to dig deep into my Christian roots so I am best able to position myself and the congregations I have influence with, I have a strong connection to both the ancient and future church since the height of the tree is limited by the depth of the roots!
While I am concerned about immigration policies that enable followers of radical Islam to take root and establish Muslim communities under Sharia law in this country (e.g. in Dearborn, Michigan), by far the biggest threat to the greatness of the United States is the proliferation of lukewarm Christianity!
During this time of year when we celebrate the advent and incarnation of Christ Jesus it is important that we think more broadly regarding the amazing ramifications of the incarnation for both our personal lives and civil society. His incarnation not only provided individual salvation to His elect but was the impetus to vast political and sociological transformation over the past 2,000 years.
(Note: This article was originally published in January 2012)
As a Christ-follower who has lived in New York City all his life, I have witnessed the increased secularization of our great city, especially within the past year. For example, not only was same-sex marriage made legal in our state, but there were also laws passed that put undue regulations on pregnancy crisis centers, laws making it necessary for churches to renew and prove their tax-exempt status annually (or face the consequence of having their tax-exempt status revoked), a policy enacted by the mayor that banned nativity scenes and Christmas trees from the Staten Island Ferry terminal, a decision by the mayor to ban clergy from participating in the ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, and most recently, the mayor and city officials have given our churches notice that they can no longer rent publically funded community facilities and public schools for Sunday worship. (Note: This past week, the New York City Housing Authority reversed course because of the pressure put on them by our churches.)
Following are the expanded notes from a speech Bishop Mattera made on August 7, 2011 to 150 political, business, and military leaders in the African nation of Rwanda, including the Speaker of Parliament.
During this election season, most have bought into the erroneous idea that society should be run purely from a secular mindset. This is a far cry from before 1954 when federal laws were changed by the Johnson amendment, which essentially made it illegal for churches to endorse political candidates under the threat of losing their 501(c)3 tax-exempt status (although the U.S. Constitution already guarantees tax-exempt status for churches, with or without the 501(c)3).
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