By Robert Jeffress
Pastor First Baptist Church of Dallas
Several weeks ago, Christian leaders, including myself, denounced televangelist Pat Robertson for claiming the Haitian earthquake was the result of God’s judgment against the country. Jesus clearly taught in Luke 13 that we are not to make such pronouncements. There are any number of theological possibilities for the “Why do bad things happen?” question, and only God knows which answer applies to which situation.
However, the decision by Air Force Academy officials in Colorado Springs to construct an outdoor space for the worship of pagan deities is an open invitation for God to send His harshest judgments against our nation.
As I read of the Academy’s plans to move stones to a nearby hilltop to facilitate the worship of pagans, Wiccans, Druids, and other earth-centered believers, I thought of the Old Testament story of King Manasseh who “did evil in the sight of the Lord. . . . For he rebuilt the high places and erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them” (2 Kings 21:2-3).
God responded to Manasseh’s actions by announcing, “Behold, I am bringing such calamity on Jerusalem and Judah that whoever hears of it, both his ears shall tingle” (2 Kings 21:12). God soon delivered on His promise by sending the Babylonians to invade Jerusalem. Apparently, God did not fully appreciate the merits of theological diversity.
What we label today as “pluralism,” God called “idolatry.” The first commandment from God was, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” There is no evidence that God has changed His mind on the subject. To openly violate this most basic law is to invite God’s judgment upon our nation. God has judged idolatry in the past through military invasions, earthquakes, a flood, and a mixture of fire and brimstone. The book of Revelation prophesies that God will employ the same agents of His wrath during the final seven years of earth’s history. There is no reason to think God is on hiatus during this present age.
“But doesn’t our Constitution demand that all religions be treated equally?’ you might ask.
Since God is not an American, there is no reason to think He has a particular affinity for our ideas about the separation of church and state. Nevertheless, although the First Amendment guarantees the right of every American to worship however they choose, it does not require government to provide a stone monument to facilitate that worship – even if the same government provides a chapel for Christians.
Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, the founder of Harvard Law School, wrote in his highly regarded commentary on the Constitution: “The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less advance, Islam or Judaism or any other infidelity by prostrating Christianity but to exclude rivalry between Christian denominations.”
Justice Story’s opinion was shared by the United States Supreme Court. In the 1844 case of Vidal vs. Girad Executors, Justice Story issued this majority opinion: “. . . It is unnecessary for us to consider the establishment of a school or college for the propagation of Deism, or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country.” So much for “separate but equal” worship places for all faiths.
To say that a person who smoked and died of a heart attack died because he smoked would be making an unsubstantiated pronouncement. Smoking may or may not have been the cause of his death. However, predicting that someone who smokes is more likely to develop cancer and die than a non-smoker can be proven empirically.
I don’t know the cause of the Haitian earthquake, the Indonesian tsunami or 9/11. But I can say without hesitation that any nation that officially embraces idolatry is openly inviting God’s wrath.
This past week government officials testified they are “certain” of another terrorist attempt on our soil within the next three to six months. One would think this would be a good time to seek God’s protection rather than kindle His anger.
Dr. Robert Jeffress is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas.