Pastoral letter, November 8th, 2012
Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th. D.
Dear St. Francis Family,
On January 9th, 1990, Bp. Morse and I, along with 24 other defendants, were arrested by the feds in a church-state battle. There were nine others from our church arrested along with 15 outside our church. Eighteen of us went to trial, and, as far as I know, it is still the largest and longest trial in the Sixth Circuit. At the end of the day (18 months later to the day), we were all acquitted.
One thing stands out in my mind: when we all first met with the judge who would try the case, she told us something like this: “This is the most serious thing that has ever happened to you. Your whole lives will be determined by the outcome of this trial. All of you are in deep trouble.”
We were a Presbyterian church then, but guess what Dan Morse (now Bp. Morse in the REC) and I did? We prayed, led the congregation in worship on Sundays, taught our regular Bible studies, counseled people, baptized, preached, visited—in other words, we continued our ministries as if nothing had happened. Why did we do that? Because we did NOT consider the arrests and false charges as something that defined our lives. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7), not the fear of man. We were not going to allow the kingdom of man to define our lives nor our ministries.
Some Christians are in despair over the recent presidential election, and some would even think that King Jesus has let us down. But our destinies are not determined by who sits in the Oval Office in Washington but by the Ascended King who rules and gave us that man for another four years. Yet we know that he’ll do us much harm. (See also Obama’s America and why did Obama win .)
Government does not determine the kingdom of God and the Church. To put this another way, the state of Christianity in America is not synonymous with the state of the culture in Washington, D.C. or the vote, though they are tied together to some extent. Indeed, the Church controls the light, God’s light, and when we turn it down, as we’ve done the last 50 years, there is only one option: the darkness floods in. If you have eyes to see, you should be aware that the Lord of the Church is bringing judgment on our society because He is bringing judgment on a very disobedient Church. It is not the society that is center stage, if you have eyes to see, but the Church. We prayed, we talked to others, we tried to let our voices be known about voting, we sent emails, we preached and taught, but we got the same man again. Knowing a little of how God works, and seeing what is happening to the Church in the West, I was not surprised but disappointed. I told my wife before the vote, “If I were the Lord, I would give us what we deserved,” and He did. If we had received the man most of us wanted, it might have put us all to sleep, or maybe he would not turn out to be the man we thought. Consider that we did not have much choice: either a pagan who is secular and tyrannical, or a polytheistic Mormon who denies every point of the Nicene Creed.
Consider what is happening if you have eyes to see: The Lord is making us look up to Him for our solution instead of looking out to a political solution. Moreover, our moral decline is in free fall with two states voting for same sex marriages and two for legalizing marijuana, which means more bureaucracy to regulate growing, standards, how “high” blood levels one can have while driving, and so forth. Marijuana is illegal nationally, though, so we’ll see how long it takes the Supreme Court to reverse that, though to me it is a minor issue.
So, guess what I’m going to do. I’m going to pray, lead the congregation in worship on Sundays, teach, counsel people, baptize, preach, visit—in other words, I’m going to continue my ministry as if nothing happened. I’ve been saying for years that the West and the USA are in trouble, but I’ve also said many times that the reason is the Church. I love this country and have great passion for it, but more so for the Church of the living God. I wrote a book aimed at Christians to help wake us up, NOT Ten Suggestions (click here to see book), and it is like pulling an elephant’s tusks with tweezers to get people to read it. They will read something about money or personal trials, because that is where our interests lie, our self-interest, but when it comes to the most important things, such as God and His wonderful character as revealed in His law and how to live for Him, few are interested. As R. C. Sproul said after he wrote a book on the person of Christ, the publisher could not give it away. But write a book on anti-Christ, and you’ll sell a million copies. What is wrong with this picture? Christ is in process of repainting it, especially in the West. Let us remember that 2 Chronicles 7:14, the theme verse for my book, is addressed to Christians, not to the politicians, though it applies to them if the Church repents. (“If my people, who are called by my name . . .”)
Of course, we must continue the battle on the political front as well. We need godly men and women in positions of authority locally, in the great state of Texas, and nationally. We must never give up, never, for in the long run, we win because He has won. Remember what Immanuel means, which was applied to the Son of God at His incarnation: “God with us,” and indeed He promised to be with us, now, until the end of the age, saying, at His Ascension, “All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18-20). That is a reflection that He, as creator of heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1; Col. 1:16), had reclaimed His fallen world, now we are to evangelize it. Thus, this world belongs to us, but we must preach His death and resurrection. Here is a radical thought: Let all Christians pray for the President’s conversion to Christ. Brace yourself. There is no question that we win, and not just at the Last Day, but right now (Rom. 16:20), but we win by faith in Him and by doing His will. But it will be warfare (see Ephesians 6:10ff).
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Cor. 10:3-6)
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).