Whatever the State can license or regulate, the State will weaponize to the benefit of the State.
Whatever the State can control, the State will use to secure and expand the power of the State.
Whatever the State is allowed to oversee or manage, the State will oversee and manage in a manner that facilitates increased dependence upon the State. In this context the term “license” used above is not to be confused with the narrow definition covering only State-issued formal documents involving things like pieces of paper with the word “license” printed on them. The term used here is intended in the broader, well established meaning of the word in which a power-claiming authority grants someone or something a status by which the recipient is allowed to pursue an activity (like building, speaking, working, or lobbying) in accordance with the parameters imposed upon the license recipient by the license issuer. It’s in this context that the State routinely presumes power that it ought not have.
That presumption of power, in and of itself, is a big deal.
The State wants us to view the State as the legitimate source of such license-granting authority in practically every area of life because the State imagines itself to be God, practically speaking. So it is that the State presumes the authority to regulate what we say, what we preach, what we build on our property, and how much water we use to flush our toilets, to name but a few of the seemingly incalculable examples of Big Brother regulatory power claimed by the State these days here in “the land of the free”.
Whether the State uses that authority or cracks down in any particular area in accordance with this presumption of power is not the point.
The presumption of power – and our enabling/encouraging of that presumption of power – is the point.
As has been made plain in numerous areas where State licensing/regulation are “played along with” by Christians, the consequences of such power being wrongly placed in the hands of the State are routinely quite severe…and could have been avoided if the improper presumption and assumption of such power on the part of the State was prevented from taking root in the first place.
Which is, again, the point.
The fact that the State may not have yet used its regulatory power to do to preachers or churches what it has and is continuing to try to do to marriage is no argument for accommodating or dismissing the significance of such improper assumptions of power by the State.
We shouldn’t have to wait for the small seeming symptoms of a fundamental problem to become great before dealing with the fundamental problem in question. We should nip things in the bud while they’re small before they have the chance to metastasize, as they routinely do in areas where the State is allowed to assume power that it should not have.
The State will always license, control, oversee, and manage things – everything – in a manner that undermines potential competitors and perceived threats to the State dependence/power matrix, with particular focus on the greatest threats to its god-like position: mature individuals, healthy families, and biblical churches. Undermining families and the true church so that their spheres of responsibility can be more easily absorbed by the State is a primary function of the anti-Christian religion and worldview of Statism, and the American flavor of Statism is certainly no exception to that rule.
In this light, we should have little trouble seeing that when we decided that the State should have the power to license, monitor, or otherwise regulate/manage pastors, preaching, and churches, we took a major lurch toward the cultural hellhole in which we now find ourselves.
The principle on display when we concede to State claims of authority to regulate speech (and speech-related activities) of the church is more than enough to warrant serious concern, even if (thankfully) the State has not (yet) used its assumed power to crack down in specific ways.
When we agree in principle through application and submission to the U.S. national government that the speech, advocacy, and conduct of the church is the legitimate subject of things like State-crafted (and therefore inherently State-serving) requirements, licensure, or certification of some sort, we move in principal toward an increasingly anti-Christian culture.
So it is that most professing Christian churches in the land are (and have for a while now been) enabled all manner of wildly unbiblical life- and culture-shaping practices of the American State rather than standing, confronting, and correcting the darkness sweeping over the land in accordance with the Gospel and Great Commission – an everything-impacting Gospel that most conservative Christian Americans openly reject and a Great Commission that most conservative Christian Americans believe simply cannot be accomplished.
And why do these conservative American Christians think this way?
Why do they reject the comprehensive lordship of Christ when it comes to understanding and pursuing proper roles and limitations for institutions like marriage, family, church, and state? Why do they often openly mock and deride the notion of Christ ruling in detail over the realms of law, economics, art, and education right here and now on His earth?
Why do they rail against the everything-touching nature of the true Gospel?
Why do they openly dismiss the viability of the Gospel-fueled Great Commission?
Because that’s what they’ve been taught to do.
That’s what they’ve been programmed to believe.
That’s how they’ve been discipled.
These are the things they’ve been conditioned to accept as “Christianity”…often by State-licensed/regulated Pastors in State-licensed/regulated churches scattered all across the fruited plain.
The principle of State-regulation of the church as a legitimate thing has been embraced by most churches in the United States.
That’s a fact.
A painful one, to be sure, and one that inspires much backlash when pointed out, but a fact nonetheless.
This is one major reason why the American State has successfully assumed (as opposed to legitimately taken on) the roles of prophet, priest, provider, mommy, daddy, and Big Brother in America.
This church-embraced principle is one major reason why most professing Christians have for generations freely handed over their children to the State for daily immersion in an explicitly anti-Christ approach to education built upon a theory of knowledge lifted directly from the Serpent’s tongue in Genesis 3.
This church-embraced principle is why most professing Christians herald a satanic counterfeit of “religious freedom” to the point that politically active Christians openly campaign for the “religious liberty” and “God-given ‘rights'” of…Muslims to openly worship Allah and Satanists to openly worship…well…you-know-who.
This church-embraced principle is why the vast majority of Christian churches and organizations in the land are so laughably innefective and impotent in the face of the most serious threats to the culture. The ongoing LGBTQ wave seems to accomplish more to fundamentally mold the culture (often through the coercive power of the State) for its anti-Christian constituents in any given year than the modern American church accomplishes in a generation (or two), while “professional” (and, once again, supposedly Christian) “pro-life” organizations are now often finding themselves in the revealing/damning position of “fighting off” serious efforts to actually treat abortion as murder.
This is also why so many American Christians are counting on Donald Trump to save them and their precious idol: America.
When the State is allowed to presume authority over practically every realm of life, including even the speech of the church, the State wins from every angle.
The only way to change this is to repent and submit to Christ as Lord in detail. The “in detail” part there is a redundancy, I know, but these days – again, thanks to so much State-regulated preaching having gone on for so long around here – there’s this nonsensical notion in people’s heads that they can somehow coherently claim Christ as Lord without actually striving to submit to Him as Lord in practice in every detail of life, from law, civics, economics, and education to art, politics, science and everything else.
Through a State-managed multigenerational evangelism process, American professing Christians have been convinced to trade in King Jesus for the American State, and the conversion has been so complete that we now love our new god. We openly worship it. We love and look to America in ways that are far across the line of rank idolatry.
So what do we do about this?
How do be begin to fix this problem?
How do we lance this boil and get things moving in a sound direction where the regulatory relationship between church and state is concerned?
Thankfully, the first steps are simple and clear (not to be confused with easy or painless).
Last August in A simple, foolproof solution to the 501(c)(3) church problem., we made the following simple suggestion (which I have edited in August of 2018 to sharpen the point):
“For American churches experiencing some angst over what to do about preserving their precious State-sanctioned 501(c)(3) status, I respectfully offer for your consideration this simple, foolproof, and utterly biblical solution to the 501(c)(3) problem:
Stop licensing/regulating church speech in accordance with standards imposed by the American State.
Stop encouraging the ludicrous and dangerous notion that the State should have any role in regulating or censoring the speech of the church, even if the State has thankfully not acted on this presumed power…yet.
Stop filtering or agreeing to filter your preaching for a tax break from the American State.
Repent of the unbiblical covenant that would have preaching from church pulpits regulated by the State.
Start serving the King without State-imposed filters or limits, and let the tax brackets fall where they may.
That is all.”
Why can we not just stop with the State-licensing/regulation of church speech thing?
Before the State actually cracks down by using the authority it wrongly claims to have.
Why not take that stand now, before the tiny little insignificant seeming cancer cell metastasizes into something much more serious?
Why not tackle rather than excuse the “little thing” that many claim the 501(c)(3) to be as a way of modeling a proper biblical approach to handling other little things and the Big Things they tend to enable?
Why not repent of having ever accepted (or even implied acceptance of) the State’s claim to regulate church speech?
Wouldn’t that kind of repentance be a great thing to not only preach, but model?
Why not stop playing religion by the rules of the State, and start freely preaching the everything-touching Gospel-fueled Christianity that inherently confronts and breaks the bonds of Statism and every other idol that rears its ugly head?
American Christians need that sort of leadership and American Christians need to become those sorts of leaders.
Now more than ever.
[This post was edited in August of 2018 to more concisely and accurately address its subject. Thanks for your interest in these things! – SAB]
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Stupid Elephant Tricks – The Other Progressive Party’s War on Christianity takes a painful but much needed look at how Christ-less “conservatism” has captivated Christians and co-opted them into helping march the culture ever deeper into darkness:
The Beginning of Knowledge: Christ as Truth in Apologetics is an approachable, easy to read introduction to Christ-centered apologetics:
Apathetic Christianity: The Zombie Religion of American Churchianity explores the tragic true horror story of all-American dead religion masquerading as Christianity:
On Education is a compilation of some of the most provocative and compelling Fire Breathing Christian articles on the subject of children’s education:
There Is No “God-Given Right” To Worship False Gods is a compilation of some of the most provocative Fire Breathing Christian articles on the subject of America’s embrace of a satanic approach to religious liberty:
Fire Breathing Christians – The Common Believer’s Call to Reformation, Revival, and Revolution is the book that first presented the FBC mission to apply the Gospel-fueled Great Commission in every realm of God’s creation:
An alternate white cover version of Fire Breathing Christians is available:
There is also an alternate black cover version of Fire Breathing Christians:
Finally, here are a few good intro/reminder links for those of you who are new to Fire Breathing Christian and curious about exactly what’s goin’ on ’round here:
And especially this one: Never forget that apart from God’s grace you and I are complete morons.