Tom: In last week’s program, J. B. Hixson stated that Bush-appointed Justice Roberts cast the deciding vote for gay marriage. J. B. meant to say "Kennedy, the Reagan-appointed Justice." His point was Republican-appointed Justices don’t always guarantee the best results. Nevertheless, we apologize for the error.
Now, this is part two of our program dealing with the subject of Politics as Religion, and my guest has been J. B. Hixson. J. B. is an author, Bible teacher, radio host…his ministry is Not By Works, and can be found at www.notbyworks.org. And you can go to his website and order his book Getting the Gospel Wrong: The Evangelical Crisis No One Is Talking About.
J. B., thanks for returning and helping us to deal with this issue once again.
J. B.: My pleasure, Tom. Thanks for having me again.
Tom: J. B., last week we covered a lot of territory—hopefully we gave some information out that was worthwhile to our listeners, and maybe some of them were thrilled with it and some, maybe not. But again, this is an important topic, and it needs discussion.
And the other thing that, as we ended last week’s program, I mentioned that there’s a rallying point in the political realm for Christians, and it’s called Conservativism. And some things line up with the Bible, some things are just the ideas of men. And the mindset of many is that Conservativism is next to godliness, which leads to people of faith working together for the well-being of all. Now, there are some phrases there that sound good, where they’re popular, people are buying into it, but let’s start with “Conservativism is next to godliness” – is that kind of like “Cleanliness is next to godliness”? What do you think about that phrase?
J. B.: Yeah, I mean, you said it. We have to define our terms. What do we mean by Conservativism? What do we mean by "people of faith"? If your faith is in the wrong object, then that’s a problem, right? Because in the Bible, it’s faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died and rose again to pay our personal penalty for sins that brings forgiveness and eternal life—not faith in some other god, or faith in some good cause, or faith in some sincere topic. And so I think when we say “Conservativism is next to godliness,” we have to define our terms. You know, Jesus said in Matthew 12, “He who is not with me is against me.” And so, you know, we want to make sure that – sometimes the good is the enemy of the best, and we want to make sure before we jump on board to some cause or some movement that the person truly does have a biblical worldview, and to me what matters most is the gospel.
And so we talked in the last program about Glenn Beck, and he’s just, you know, one example among many, but we need to ask ourselves is this person really promoting the good news about Jesus Christ and how a person can have eternal life, or are they undermining the gospel? And one of the biggest problems with working together and sort of—you know, ecumenical movements, or working together for the well-being of all, as you said, is that it sort of marginalizes what really matters the most. So, you know, I can give an example: you know, people will say, “Man, this guy is a great—he’s written a great book about how to manage your money,” or, “He’s written a great, fantastic book about marriage,” or, “This guy’s written a great book about how to have your best life now,” but they’re wrong when it comes to the gospel, right?
J. B.: They’re wrong when it comes to what matters most. And so people have been conditioned to sort of compartmentalize, and say, “Oh, well, that doesn’t matter. This is still really good stuff.” And so I go back to what Paul said in Galatians 1, when he said the gospel is what matters most, and he said, “If you’re not preaching the right gospel, you’re anathema!” Anathema – literally, “comes under strict judgment.” And so we need to be honest about – when we talk about these people that are promoting so-called good causes but they’re wrong on the gospel, I think we should change the marketing a little bit. We should say, “Hey, I’ve got a great book to recommend for you. This guy has a lot to say about how to have your best life now. The Bible call him ‘anathema,’ but other than that, he’s pretty good!” It just doesn’t make sense.
Tom: No, and in this day, ultimately, confusion reigns. You know, even the…I remember the Oxford Dictionary coming up with a term to—I think this was 2016—a term for that year, and what term did they pick after looking over where the world is, and what they’re thinking is, and how they’re going about things and so on? The word was “post-truth.” Wow! Now there’s the world recognizing that the world’s got a problem!
J. B.: Wow. Yeah, that is so true. Post-Christian, post-truth…
J. B.: Truth doesn’t matter anymore. It’s what’s most convenient, what brings me power or meets my needs in the moment rather than a firm stake in the ground that we can sort of look to.
Tom: Yeah. And then the theme, the title, that we use for this is Religion in Politics—or Politics as Religion. You can work it both ways. But the issue related to that, which we’re seeing almost everywhere, even by the so-called “good guys,” is "the end justifies the means." In other words, a good outcome excuses any wrongs committed to attain them. And even though we may not see the wrong right away, that’s still a problem. No, the end doesn’t justify the means. You cannot use, as a believer, as a Christian, or a moral person, you can’t use deceit. You can’t use seduction to draw people into what you want to have done, whether it be—and I want to talk about this; we didn’t mention it last week—I want to talk about abortion. Now, that’s dead wrong, and no pun intended with that, but it’s absolutely, unequivocally wrong. So there’s an issue.
Let’s talk about that for a second, J. B.: we don’t want this. Now how are we going to go about removing it?
J. B.: Well, it’s certainly not going to be simply by getting a majority of so-called conservatives in Congress, the Senate, the White House, and the Supreme Court, because we’ve been there, so…
I’m passionately pro-life. I speak at pro-life banquets and fund-raising banquets for pregnancy centers and various places, and it’s a very important issue to my wife and me, as well. But I don’t think you can really trust anymore these so-called right wing politicians who, when they say, “Hey, this is what I’m all about,” and then they get in and they do nothing! They do nothing. I think what we’ve got to do is educate, we’ve got to spread the word, we’ve got to speak from our pulpits about it and let people know what life is all about, that life begins at conception and life is precious in the eyes of God. It’s not just about electing or voting for a so-called pro-life Republican. I mean, how many times do we have to fall into that trap before we realize we’re being duped?
Tom: Mm-hmm. Just to—not to aside, but to bring this up—you know, most people would say, “Well, if you’re looking for those who are so adamantly opposed to abortion, let’s look to the Catholic Church.”
Now, J. B., I don’t know if you know this, but I was 30 years a Roman Catholic, and I have a really good understanding about the Church of Rome. But what I’ve seen in the past, because they’re so strong with regard to their position on abortion, that when there’s protests or something like that, the evangelicals will join, link arms with them, maybe go out on the street, you know, holding signs and so on—and maybe even end up in jail for that day because it was an illegal protest. Now, I have seen that connection turn evangelicals to lose sight of the fact that the Church of Rome has a false gospel, cannot save anyone, and their mindset has more to do with the temporal issues—and there are a lot of temporal issues—but not the eternal issues. So that really concerns me, because I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen—there is a trend and a movement toward Rome, toward this pope and previous popes. I was in bondage to that system for 30 years, and I’m concerned that they’ve lost sight… You’ve said before: Where’s the discernment here? Where’s the biblical discernment as to not only the end but the means that I’m using to bring that about? It’s problematic…
J. B.: Yeah, I want to come back to “the ends justify the means” here in a second too, but you’re right. It’s what we said a moment ago, that these movements, these causes often marginalize the gospel, and we don’t even realize it. What happens is the cause becomes so preeminent in our mind and in the candidates that we support, and the rallies that we go to, and the protests that we get involved in, that we forget what matters most is the good news about Jesus Christ, and we are unwittingly marginalizing it.
So here’s kind of my take on this whole idea of working with others in a situation who might not agree with you on important issues like the gospel: look, we live up here in the Colorado Rockies, in the mountains, you know. We’ve got four feet of snow on the ground; it’s snowing already, and all winter from about September 15th, which is when the first snow comes, until late April – sometimes well into May – we’re dealing with people sliding off of the mountain roads and pulling them out of a ditch. Already this year I’ve pulled three people out with a tow-rope; everybody keeps a tow-rope in their truck, and you just – it’s just commonplace. So if I see somebody that’s run off the road and is stuck in the snow and we need to pull him out, and another car stops and we get out to go help, I’m not going to ask the guy, “Hey, are you a Catholic? Are you this? Are you that? Tell me what you believe about the gospel.” We’re just going to pitch in, we’re going to pull the guy out and go on about our way. But if I’m going to give millions of dollars to a cause or speak publicly at rallies, or seek to really get involved in the political arena, that’s an entirely different matter altogether, and I think Christians are morally and biblically obligated at that point to make sure they’re not partnering with someone who according to Jesus’ own words is not with Him but against Him. Would you agree with that?
Tom: Absolutely. And the issue here is what is of temporal value and what is of eternal value, okay?
J. B.: I like that, yeah.
Tom: I could have…you know, maybe doing something in a temporal basis and have the wrong motivation. You know, the Lord’s not going to be pleased with it, not because I’m not doing what’s right, but because my heart is not in it for Him. And so consequently, it has no eternal value for me. On the other hand, because it was a good work, it does have temporal value for the thing that’s going on. So that’s one concern. But, you know, you use the term—let me define it a little bit, and the term is “ecumenism.” We’re seeing this in a huge way today….Well, what is ecumenism? It’s an attempt to bring about unity within denominations and groups that call themselves Christian. And certainly the Bible talks about unity, but it’s unity based on the doctrine of Jesus Christ!
J. B.: Absolutely. Ephesians 4.
Tom: That’s first and foremost. But, you know, in the mid-20th century, the Catholic Church, which was a leader in ecumenism—not for the doctrine of Christ, but for their own ideas—they expanded ecumenism to include all religions. John Paul II goes to India, he goes to Haiti, and says, “You have wonderful spirituality,” and so on. But then we saw that Christians were buying into that idea. Well, first of all, you can’t have unity with different religions. You just can’t, because, I mean, what are you going to agree on? I could go through a whole litany of differences between Islam and Judaism and Hinduism and Buddhism and all of that. They’re just in contrast…they contradict one another and so on. But the thing that concerns me is now that is within the evangelical church. Rick Warren, for example, would be a huge leader in this whole idea. You know, he told his church that “We’re going to come up with a game plan here to solve the problems of the world.” That was for the church, and you figure, well, okay, if you can do it—plant churches, that was one of his ideas—that seems really good. But then he goes to Davos, Switzerland, and he talks to religious leaders, diverse religious leaders, and the first thing he says is, “Can’t we all work together? Can’t we all do this?”
And then one of his agendas was to solve the spiritual emptiness. So now he wants to work with these diverse religions to come together in a religious sense. That is ecumenism, and listen, you know about eschatology, J. B., but what is this? This is the religion of the Antichrist. This is how all religions come together to that one religion and it’s going to happen when he reveals himself, but it’s going to happen in a way that is already happening. There’s a development. It doesn’t just start overnight. So that’s what we’re seeing with regard to ecumenism.
J. B.: Absolutely. Daniel 11 predicts that the future world leader that will take control of the world for seven years after the church has been raptured, Daniel’s 70th week, that he is going to forsake the gods of his fathers. He is not going to be Islamic, he’s going to be a pluralist. And Islam is a bad deal, believe me! It’s bad just like Communism was bad, fascism is bad, you know, Babylonianism was bad, Romanism was bad. But the ultimate enemy is sneaking in right before our eyes, and that’s pluralism, because the Antichrist is only going to be able to get a one world religion if he accepts all religions, not if he demands everybody convert to Islam. He’s going to say, “I accept Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, everything.”
You know, you’re right, Rick Warren would argue that, hey, this is “the end justifies the means.” And the problem with that is that it ultimately is a pretty easy philosophical argument to debunk. I can remember years ago I was working full time as a faculty member and administrator at a fairly large Bible college, and it was about the time that Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life came out, and a journal, a theological journal, asked me to write a booklet – I mean, a full article-length critique of the book. So I did. I felt like I was pretty gracious, but I was very hard-hitting and very critical of Rick Warren for some of his doctrine, particularly his view of the gospel in that book. And after the journal came out, I got buzzed on my office phone and the president of the college asked me to come up to his office. I didn’t know what it was about. I went up, and he said – I walked into his office, sat down, and he handed me a copy of the journal that he had just gotten and he said, “I read your article.” He said – this is a quote; I’ll never forget it – he said, “I would be loathe to criticize someone who has done as much good for the world as Rick Warren has.” And I was dumbfounded! And I just said, “Well, sir, he may have done some good, but he’s wrong on the gospel, and shouldn’t we point that out?”
But, you know, I made the argument with the president—it didn’t win him over—but I said, “If the ends justify the means, you know, here’s an idea—there are a lot of people out there that will never pick up a Bible and hear the gospel, but they’re addicted to pornography. So why don’t we create a new magazine called Prayboy in which we show a bunch of naked pictures and then give the gospel at the end to reach those people?” Right? The ends justify the means. It’s an easy argument to debunk.
Tom: I know, but debunking it is—more and more, it’s impossible! I mean, we’ve moved from—away from—objective truth, not just in terms of the Word of God, but in terms of reality, the world. We’re moving into mysticism, where – “Well, I heard what you said, J. B., and it makes sense, and it sounds biblical, but I just don’t feel that way.” Whoa!
J. B.: Yeah. We live in a world where people are much more comfortable drawing circles of inclusion rather than lines of distinction, and sadly the Bible, by its very nature, God’s Word, God’s infallible, inerrant Word, draws lines of distinction.
Tom: You know, J. B., our concern here is—and I hope this comes through folks, as you’re listening to us—our heart is for the Word of God, for His truth. You know, Jesus said—I think in Luke—He said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and you don’t do the things that I say?” Well, sadly, you know, I would link that up with in 2 Timothy: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.”
Folks, it’s the Word of God that sets us free! It’s the Word of God that causes us, as we obey it and live it out, it causes us to be fruitful and productive, to change hearts and change lives of those who have been deceived or seduced by what’s going on. So that’s our cry here. It’s not that we’re anti-Republican or anti-Democrat or whatever. We’re biblical Christians, and I hope everyone listening to that will use that title for themselves. I mean, there’s “Christianity” out there. There’s the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, there’s the Jesus Christ of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so on. There are a lot of false Christs out there, which you will find laid out in Matthew 24. But we want people to go to the Word, to hold everything up to the light of Scripture.
Now, in that view, J. B., what’s your exhortation and encouragement for believers that would help them avoid being seduced and deceived as they look to man and his means to bring about so-called biblical godliness?
J. B.: Yeah, that’s a great question, and let me give you sort of a big-picture answer first, then I want to recommend some resources that we have that might be of value as well.
First of all, I couldn’t agree more that there’s a difference between a so-called Christian worldview and a biblical worldview. You know, a Christian worldview can be as broad as anything in the West as opposed to stuff in the East, right? But a biblical worldview means that we have latched onto God’s Word, the Bible, and we believe it’s the only standard for our beliefs, attitudes, and practices. So we’re going to run everything we hear and see and read through the grid of Scripture, and we’re going to either validate it and incorporate it into our overall worldview, or we’re going to invalidate it, because it doesn’t pass the test. And so the Bible is our standard, and so I would say, you know, big picture is get in the Word. It changes lives, it pierces the heart. It separates the soul from the spirit to that which longs for God, from that which longs for the flesh. It changes lives. And so, as we said earlier, you know, turn off Fox News and open the Bible, or at least have the Bible open while you’re watching it so that you can have a standard or a grid.
A couple of resources that touch on a lot of the things that we've talked about today and on the previous week’s program, we have a DVD, a 90-minute DVD, called Red, White and Bad: When the Country We Love Becomes the Country We Fear, and it’s essentially touching on a lot of these issues and how biblical Christians can and should respond. And then our book The Great Last Days Deception touches on this, and in one of the chapters we go into the top 10 lies that most Christians have believed, and it’s kind of controversial because I think most Christians believe them and don’t realize it’s a lie, things like evolution and so forth. So those are some practical resources for further study, but, you know, most importantly, just get in the Word, as you said.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You know, I’ve had the opportunity—it’s always a blessing to speak to men’s groups, and I have to admit, I get on their case—you know, not that I’m the end-all-be-all, You know, I’m the spiritual head of our household. We had five children and now have grandchildren and so on, but there’s a responsibility there. So I always like to bring it back there: “You guys, are you in a Bible study? How much time are you spending in the Word?” And then I remember one group, I said, “Look, I know guys who wouldn’t have a problem picking up a baseball bat if somebody came into their home to deal with their . . . you know, their wife or their children, and so on. But at the same time, I don’t know many guys who will pick up the sword of the Spirit to protect their children—grandchildren, even—and so on.” So that’s an exhortation. I mean, I’m convicted by that, as well, but that’s an exhortation that needs to be adhered. If we’re going to deal with the issues of the day, and we’re just . . . we talked about, certainly, politics, Conservativism, and so on, but there’s so many more issues that the Word of God has an answer for—the answer. And unless we know it, and unless we understand it and then live it—look, J. B., I have Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons come to my door. I don’t do this all the time, but many times I’ll say, “So what’s your deal?”
And they say, “Well, what do you mean?”
And I say, “Look, I have a deal, and I think it’s a really good deal, but I want to know your deal, and I want to compare it with my deal." The reason I say that is because God has given us everything that we need to be fruitful and productive, but if I’m not in them, and I don’t understand those things, and am not living them out, well, I’ve shot myself in the foot, and even if I would do that, it’s ludicrous! But God has given us those things. So, folks, that’s our exhortation.
So, J. B., how would—we’ve got about a minute left, about two minutes—how would you wrap up what we’ve been talking about?
J. B.: Yeah, I would just say you’re right. Our deal is—that’s what distinguishes Christianity from every other religion in the world is that it’s a free gift of life, paid for by the precious shed blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and our Savior. And Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, every other religion, they have an element of performance and commitment and trying to work for it and earn it, and it’s part-Jesus, part-me. But we come, and when we say, “The offer is nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” Jesus truly did pay it all, and if you’ll place your faith in Him and trust in Him alone as the only One who can save you, you can be born again. So it starts there.
And for believers, the final exhortation I would just say again is, "Get in the Word of God. Don’t apologize for it, don’t marginalize it; hold it high, and stand firm on it. It’s a lamp to our feet and a light to our path."
Tom: Amen, amen. Well, my guest has been J. B. Hixson—that’s spelled H-I-X-S-O-N. Thank you, J. B. And his ministry is www.notbyworks.org. So again, thank you for just chatting with us, chatting with me, and then going over these really important issues. Thanks again, J. B.
J. B.: Always a pleasure, Tom. Thank you.