• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down “Hate Crime” Laws

WorldNetDaily reports that the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania has declared the “hate crimes” laws used to jail the Philadelphia 11 in 2004 violated the state constitution.  The Philadelphia 11, a group of Christians, had been giving their testimony on public property at the city’s tax-funded celebration of homosexuality in the city’s downtown in 2004.  They were arrested, jailed and threatened with up to five decades in jail.

The group members then challenged the law itself and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in a 4-1 decision that the amendments were unconstitutional.  The legislation increased penalties for crimes based on what the criminal was thinking, specifying the additional penalties for “actual or perceived … ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.”

All crimes are “hate crimes” and we must stop any legislation that tries to make some victims more special than others and thus entitled to more rights than others.  A crime is a crime and the victims and accused must stand before the law equal in rights to all others in their positions.  Increasing penalties based on what you think someone else is thinking during the commission of a crime is an extremely dangerous and subjective form of a kangaroo court system.  Guilt, innocence, and penalties must be based on objective testimony and evidence; not looking into a crystal ball.  Objective evidence must remain the basis of our legal system.

The implementation of “hate crimes” legislation not only removes the objective standard of justice from the justice system but it is also targeted against the freedom of speech.  If you simply criticize individuals or a group that belongs to one of the special categories of “protected” citizens designated by “hate crimes” laws, such as people of a certain “ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity” – you can be arrested and tried for “hate speech.”  This is what happened to the Philadelphia 11.  They were sharing God’s Word about the sin of homosexuality in a public area where there were homosexuals gathered.

Therefore, “hate crime” laws place the equality of justice for all citizens at risk.  They subjectivise the determination of guilt, innocence, and punishment.  They also strike down the First Amendment by restricting free speech and freedom of religion to the whims of politically correct trends.

Do You Want To Make Your Church Relevant?

The hardest thing to change in the church is the people who say, “This is the way we have always done things.” The counter part to this, however, is that some people love to change things just for the sake of change or to put their personal imprint on their job.  We have all heard criticism of some of the new ways people are doing church.  New movements such as “the emergent/emerging church” and “sonship theology” have certainly earned their share of critics.  Some very notable theologians have warned us about efforts to turn the sanctuary into a theater.  These new movements often neglect the preaching of the Word as they try to appeal to the emotions of the unchurched with an upbeat style of music.  This approach is more focused on how we feel rather than God-centered worship.

We cannot simply dismiss these orthodox theologians with that tired saying, “We must make the Church relevant to modern culture.”  Instead, we must heed the wisdom which tells us that Christianity is to reform the culture; not vice versa.  The older, wiser, and most orthodox of Christian theologians are not simply naysayers to the new methodologies; they are here to warn us if we are straying from the true path.  They help us to identify false teaching and to avoid violating the Word of God.  It is clearly pride that makes us leap ahead where Angels fear to tread.

Charles Spurgeon teaches here a valuable lesson.  “We preach today what was preached 1800 years ago, and wherein others make alterations they create deformities, and not improvements. We are not ashamed to avow that the old truth of Christ alone is everlasting; all else has gone or shall go, but the gospel towers above the wrecks of time.”

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