By Editorial Staff
Published April 26, 2008
By Pastor Arthur “A.J.” Johnson
THERE WAS A TIME WHEN THE CHURCH WAS VERY POWERFUL.
It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed.
In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.” But they went on with the conviction that they were a “colony of heaven,” and had to obey God rather than man. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.
Things are different now. The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.
Maybe again, I have been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Maybe I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ecclesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom [justice] …
Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been kicked out of their churches and lost support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have gone with the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. These men have been the leaven in the lump of the race. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote these words from the confines of the Birmingham jail. “The noble souls” to whom he referred were the precious ones who were willing to lay down their lives for the freedom of others. This group of warriors fought the “good fight of faith” knowing that the victory was won by “loving not their lives even unto death.” The evils of that day were conquered by their undaunted trust in God and by the cross in action. Sons and daughters, parents and grandparents were beaten, ridiculed and scorned, jailed and even killed.
Sadly enough, as Martin Luther King states in his letter, the majority of the church of that day stood by paralyzed by their need to conform to the status quo. And, I might add, paralyzed by their own fears, petty excuses and criticisms of those who challenged the unjust system of that time.
Today, once again, the church is challenged to rise up and fight the battle. Once again, Satan has waged war against the hearts and minds of God’s people. But this time the battle fields are in front of the abortion mills of America where the most innocent are being offered to the blood thirsty gods of this age, convenience and selfishness. God’s most precious gifts to mankind are being ripped apart in their mother’s wombs while the church’s silence holds back the awesome power of victory which the church alone controls.
As a pastor of a local church in downtown Birmingham, “Doers of the Word,” I work a lot with youth. We have several outreaches to the youth of the city, prison (juvenile) ministry, music ministry, etc. I minister to the worst kids in Jefferson County, Alabama. There is gang activity everywhere in Birmingham. In one recent incident, gang members came out and stood in front of our church and tried to stare down some of our young people. Several of them have come into our Bible studies. I have personally seen many of these kids come out of gangs, lay down the gun and pick up the Sword of the Spirit.
On Holy Week of 1994, I saw approximately 50 teens arrested near the University of Alabama for simply praying on a sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic. These kids are the cream of the crop. It broke my heart to see these kids go to jail for praying on the sidewalk. A few days before the arrests, we took our young people on a tour of the Civil Rights Institute here in Birmingham. They saw how the young people in Birmingham were let out of high school and took to the streets in 1963. They were willing to die to challenge the evil laws of their land. Our young people realized that it was the youth who turned the tide of the Civil Rights movement. This really impacted our young people and they haven’t been the same since. Now it’s their turn to take up the standard in the pro-life movement.
God called me to train young people to do the work of the ministry of Jesus Christ. They are the ones who are going to change our nation, not just with regards to the abortion issue, but by closing down a crack house or a pornography shop, or whatever else God has called them to do. Adults have to lead the young people. I took a survey in a youth detention center in Birmingham – I found that 95 percent of the young men don’t have fathers at home. They don’t have role models. My prayer is that God will raise up men to be role models – to be fathers for these young men.
We have begun to see black and white churches in Birmingham come together over the abortion issue. We’ve seen black and white, young and old, come together for the sanctity of human life. In the 1960s, the civil rights movement was mostly black. But today the pro-life movement in Birmingham is about half white and half black – equal representation. We see people from all races and all denominations involved in this issue. It has brought them together like no other issue has ever done in the past.
Statistics on abortion for blacks show that approximately one-third – or 10 million black babies – have been victims of abortion, but blacks make up only 12 percent of the population. Newer studies have shown that now there have been 12 million abortions among the black population and that blacks now make up only eight percent of the population. This is due to 20 years of legalized abortion. This is black genocide.
The motive of Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was genocide. Former Planned Parenthood president, a black woman named Faye Wattleton, and abortion advocates, such as Jesse Jackson, do not represent the majority of blacks. The overwhelming majority (statistics indicate over 70 percent) of black people believe that abortion is wrong. But the so-called leaders are really speaking for only a minority of blacks.
I personally went to some of the black civil rights leaders in Birmingham regarding the events we had planned for Holy Week, but we did not get a response from them. They have not come out nor have they made any statements at all in support of what our young people are doing. It is a travesty that the so-called civil rights leaders of Birmingham would not speak up on behalf of the children.
But there is a new generation coming. This generation of young people are the ones who go to school with the drug dealers and the gang leaders toting guns. They know that they are the only hope. These young people don’t have any fear. They don’t have any jobs to lose or careers to protect. When they are filled with the Spirit of God, they will lay down their lives for what is right. The elderly consider what they have to lose, but young people are not afraid. If the youth can band together; if they get a sense of belonging and unity; if they get impacted with the Spirit of God; if there is a group that loves Jesus with all their hearts, then they will believe that they can do anything.
This is the beginning of a new move of God in Birmingham, Alabama. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King was pleading for the church to just be the church – and today we are seeing a group of young people who want to be like Jesus; who want to be deemed worthy to suffer for what they believe; who will risk going to jail for what they believe. It is time for the church to recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church. I have seen more young people respond to this call than adults. There is a real difference in this generation. They are willing to sacrifice for what they believe.
The “gates of hell” cannot prevail against the church. Will we utilize the power of the cross to overcome this present darkness? Who will join the ranks? Victory will only be won through sacrifice. Who is willing to take up the cross and run toward the demon giant of child sacrifice? The victory is ours if we heed the call to battle.
Pastor “A.J.” serves as a full-time minister of a youth congregation in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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Download the Free Study Guide!
Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
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That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
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“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
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High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
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