by Bill Lockwood
The people of Isaiah’s day said to the seers, “’See no more visions! And to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right. Tell us pleasant (smooth) things, prophesy illusions. Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” – Isaiah 30:10-11
The Jews of Isaiah’s day (approximately 730 years Before Christ) were God’s chosen people, but they had grown rebellious. The prophets checked them in these pursuits, but they did not wish to hear of God’s commandments and especially His hatred of sin. Remind us not any more of these things!
Instead, they wanted flatteries—things agreeable to their own wishes. Their desire was to be entertained, not instructed and certainly not corrected. Illusions and deceits is what they wished for. As Matthew Henry comments, “But as they despised the word of God, their sins undermined their safety. Their state would be dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Sounds like today’s pulpits, doesn’t it? No spirited edge, only milquetoast and honeyed words. What occurred? Socialism.
Max Eastman (1883-1969) was a prominent editor, political activist and “prominent radical” who, like many in Woodrow Wilson’s “progressive” America, became infatuated with Marxism. Eastman traveled to the Soviet Union to learn firsthand how to be a good socialist and became friends with Leon Trotsky. Years later, when Eastman became convinced that socialism is void of validity, he reflected upon his time as a Marxist. “I sadly regret the precious twenty years I spent muddling and messing around with this idea, which with enough mental clarity and moral force I might have seen through when I went to Russia in 1922” (Reflections on the Failure of Socialism).
Eastman commented on socialism this way.
Marxists profess to reject religion in favor of science, but they cherish a belief that the external universe is evolving with reliable, if not divine, necessity in exactly the direction in which they want it to go. They do not conceive themselves as struggling to build the communist society in a world which is of its own nature indifferent to them. They conceive themselves as traveling toward that society in a world which is like a moving-stairway, but walking in the wrong direction. This is not a scientific, but in the most technical sense, a religious conception of the world. (Max Eastman, Marxism—Is It Science?)
Eastman knew whereof he spoke.
Socialism is not normally classified as a religion, but when its doctrines are examined, it more closely resembles a religious concept than anything else. The only difference between socialism and Christianity is that the latter is grounded upon historical fact while socialistic faith is founded upon unproven assumptions. Communism particularly is a philosophy of faith in the dialectic—the zig-zagging of history onward and upward to a more perfect society.
Because socialism is in reality an implicit religion, Spargo & Arner, who virtually wrote the textbook on Socialism, called Elements of Socialism (1912), tell us that not only is a “future life” such as heaven an “invention of man” but that God Himself is a “construct of the human mind.” They present socialism as an “alternative to Christianity” which infuses a passion for perfection “without God” and “without heaven.” Further, it is based upon the general theory of evolution (p. 63, 75, 111, 206, 222), which itself is a theory designed to replace belief in God.
This brings us back to the churches of today. Far too many Bible classes, pulpits and church groups have bought into the lie that one needs to keep separated “politics” and “religion.” To frame the issue this way is to make like some preachers are running for political office themselves in sermon material. The real issue is: Do social ideas have any input from the Bible? Should the church and Christians have any interest in social ideas for the community and the family? Do biblical principles have any say on the social issues of the day?
In truth, the social issues plaguing our society today are born of the alternative religion: socialism. Welfare, government housing, government schools, government manipulation of the free market, government intrusion into farming, businesses, health care, family planning, and the list goes on.
Should Christians be interested at all in maintaining a free society by which they may, without reprisal, worship God? Or, shall we capitulate to the social justice warriors such as the Barack Obama’s and Joe Biden’s who wish to force their godless worldview on a free people? When Marxist BLM declares its intention to rid society of the “nuclear family,” should biblical Christians have something to say?
Is it in the interest of Christians to be able to defend private property and enjoy the fruits of our own toil as biblical principles teach? Does “thou shalt not steal” not imply the concept of private property? Or, shall we endorse government plunder in order to provide medical care, housing, education, food, services and you-name-it for those who do not have these things? Should I not show the difference between freedom to be charitable and government confiscation and squandering? Or, should we ignore these crucial distinctions?
Frederic Bastiat, the 19th-century French economist, made this crucial point: “Socialism … confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to it being done at all….It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
Shall pulpits insist upon the freedom to teach our children the way of the Lord in homeschooling (Deut. 6:4-9); or must we capitulate to government schools with its full display of hedonistic life-styles in the halls and Marxist propaganda in the classrooms? Is it not within the scope of this topic to remind congregants that there are political operatives that wish to remove this God-given liberty?
Am I, as a preacher, out-of-line to remind churches in sermonic material that some political candidates support the strong arm of government confiscating your own monies to pay for ungodly abortions? For redistributing your earnings to those who refuse to work? For giving your money to those who deal in drugs and wander the streets lawlessly looking for more stores and innocents to loot?
In preaching against homosexuality am I not within my God-given boundaries to remind people that some politicians not only support this wickedness, but use the strong arm of the law to coerce it within your houses of worship and private businesses? Shall preachers not “mark” those in apostate pulpits who endorse this lifestyle? (Rom. 16:17). And does not consistency demand we also “mark and avoid” the devil’s legions in the political ranks who are doing the same?
R.C. Foster, a Christian Church preacher of yesteryear, commented on the anemia that had already begun affecting the pulpits of his day. He commented that things will change in America only “when Christian martyrs, instead of craven cowards or selfish worldlings, stand in the pulpit.” The pulpit remains powerful when the gospel is preached and the church refuses to “substitute theatrical performances, pie suppers, and pool-tables for the preaching of the gospel.” But when “the husks of philosophical and scientific speculation, modernism, and infidelity are substituted for the gospel, God’s people are starved and the kingdom suffers defeat.”
Preaching the gospel includes more than merely speaking the “smooth things” (2 Tim. 4:2-4). Corruption in the pulpits is caused, in part, by the siren-song of socialism which has infatuated the unsuspecting and unlearned and caused multitudes of preachers to preach merely the illusions of the day.