The Damnable Doctrine of Equality–Rights of The Child

This is my sermon from Sunday, September 21st, and is the final message regarding the several Egalitarian movements that have plagued our country since its inception.  This message addresses the severe threat to parental rights and prerogatives posed by the UN Rights of the Child treaty.  It is already bearing bitter fruit in other countries, and will be a dangerous threat to Christian parents in particular if ever ratified by the Senate.

And he begins this process immediately.  Having stated that the message of Christ strongly involved the supreme holiness of God, John at once insists that the children of God must conform to that standard.  He begins by posing a religious hypothetical: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him…”  This is a man who makes a claim at being religious.  All true Christians profess to have fellowship with God, for Christ’s very work was intended to restore the fellowship that we lost in Adam.  But profession and possession are not necessarily the same thing.  John would have us to be gravely aware that a man may profess to have fellowship with God, while still being a stranger to Him.  This brings to mind again the warning of Jesus, that there will be many at His judgment seat that professed to know Him, but to whom He will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you…”  Of course Christ did not there intimate that He had no knowledge of their existence or habits, but rather that He never engaged them in intimate, personal fellowship.  Their conduct was unbecoming to a profession of His gospel, abhorrent to the holiness He requires.  Such a person was never in fellowship with Christ, for one cannot know the spotless Christ without becoming a sincere imitator of His virtues.

John here forever abolishes the notion parroted by some in watered down religion, which avers that all who pray the sinner’s prayer, or perform some equivalent thereof, shall surely be saved.  The message of the apostle is crystal clear, that there are many who claim fellowship with God, who are lying.  Whether this deceit is intentional or unintentional is not material.  More than likely it is in most cases unintentional.  They have been deluded by Satan into thinking that, because they had a religious experience of some nature, and observe some religious rituals, that they are members of the body of Christ, even though their hearts still love the same sins from which they profess to have been cleansed.  Their outlook on life has never been transformed, genuine repentance has never taken place.  They may be deceiving other Christians, but worst of all is when they deceive themselves.  He who walks in darkness, having never been changed from love of sin to love of holiness, abides in darkness, and has no fellowship with the God Who is perfect light, and in Whom no darkness whatsoever resides.

John begins by pointing them back to the doctrine of Christ, under which he had sat for the three years of the Saviour’s public ministry.  The Lord Jesus discoursed upon many things pertaining to the kingdom of God, but one thing which rang with unalloyed clarity in the mind of John was this: “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.”  Never was there a more faithful advocate of the glory and the righteousness of God than Jesus Christ.  No man ever more uncompromisingly declared the character of God, both His grace towards penitent sinners, and His wrath against the self-righteous unbelievers, than did the Lord Jesus.  Christ often compassionately warned men of the worm that dieth not, and the fire that never shall be quenched.  He proclaimed glad tidings to the broken in heart, telling them that, although God is just, they can be received into His favor by believing the word of the Gospel.  No one more plainly taught than the Lord Jesus that all who would be saved must be holy in heart and conduct.  The Saviour warned that there will be many before His judgment throne who were so involved in religion that they even performed miracles in His Name, and yet they will be cast away, because they were “workers of iniquity,” or “lawless ones.”  Christ often stressed the primacy of God’s law, and emphasized it in its broadest application as the rule of life for His people.  Never for a single moment did Jesus allow any man to think that God had grown soft towards sin, and would overlook it if people would only try hard and be sincere.  Both the abundant mercy of God, and also His stern, unyielding justice, were frequent themes of the ministry of Christ.

The terms “light” and “darkness” here are moral terms, and describe the immaculate character of the God of heaven.  He is the high and holy One that inhabiteth eternity.  This is He before Whom even the sinless angels veil their faces, and cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!”  The holiness, the moral purity of God, the perfection of His character, is so great that even the powerful and good angels appear marred and defective when contrasted with Him.  One of the ancients declared that He charged His angels with folly.  Another said “even the heavens are not pure in His sight.”  The holiness, the righteousness, the purity of Jehovah, is so majestic, so far above any possibility of attainment for men or angel, that our minds are overwhelmed when we try to conceive something of His reality.

This precept concerning God’s immaculate holiness, and the utter absence of anything that would defile in the minutest degree, will be critical in the unfolding of John’s epistle.  John’s argument will be that God’s children are to be imitators of their holy Father.  To be sure, just like the angels, we can never in our persons begin to approach to His unattainable majesty.  Nevertheless, every creature in His favor must love what God loves, strive for the good ends towards which God labors, admire the virtues He admires.  The Gospel furnishes us with the righteousness of God’s divine/human Son, which enables us to appear faultless before the presence of His glory.  But even though after regeneration we still live in sinful bodies until death, we will be separated from the filth, the darkness of this world, and consecrated towards the service of this holy God.  This will be the great reality of the Christian life, towards which John will again and again direct the minds of his readers.

The following is the response I wrote to an article posted on Charles DeMastus’ Southern Heritage News & Views newsletter, that slavery is intrinsically sinful.  As you can see, I am convinced that this assertion has no biblical foundation whatsoever.

Dear Chuck,

I must take vigorous exception to the remarks of Mark Vogl, and some of our other
Confederate friends, regarding the sinfulness of the institution of slavery. Mr. Vogl
stated, and apparently many of our pro-Southern friends agree, “Clearly, slavery was
and is a sin.”

I would like to know by what authority Mr. Vogl denounces slavery as a clearly defined
sin. Judging by other remarks made in the same article, I take it Mr. Vogl is a
professing Christian, and I am certainly happy to regard him as such. However, by making
the statement that slavery is clearly a sin, he has fallen into the trap of allowing the
worldly culture to define right and wrong, instead of the Christian’s one and only source
of truth and morality: the holy scriptures. The only “defense” Mr. Vogl made
of his statement that I could find was at the beginning of his article, in which he
stated that since liberty comes from God, then slavery must be a sin. This is not
biblical reasoning, and to my knowledge can be found nowhere in the Bible. It is true,
that without sin there would be no slavery. But at the same time, without sin there
would also be no divorce, and almost certainly would not be money. That does not mean
that divorce or money are intrinsically evil; they have become an unhappy necessity of
living in a fallen world. In light of the biblical evidence, we should view slavery
along the same lines.

It would take far too much space to cover all the biblical data regarding slavery, but I
would simply challenge any skeptic to find any pronouncement in the Bible that defines
slavery as a sin. I already know that they cannot, and therefore I take my turn and
direct their attention to the Decalogue. The fourth and tenth commandments both enshrine
the right of a master in his slaves, first by requiring him to allow his slaves to rest
on the sabbath, and secondly by forbidding us to covet a man’s slaves. I would also
point the interested Christian to Leviticus 25:39-46, in which rules and regulations are
delivered concerning slavery. The Hebrew was compelled to manumit his Hebrew slaves at
the year of jubilee, but could maintain heathen bondmen in servitude perpetually. That
which the law of God condones by definition cannot be sin (Romans 7:7).
Our Lord Jesus Christ commended the faith of a slaveholder (Matthew 8:5-13), and often
used slaves and masters as examples in His parables, without ever once suggesting any
evil in the institution. In Luke 17:7-10, He even mocked at the idea of a master
thanking his slave for bringing him his supper! I would refer also to the constant
teaching of the apostles, who regulated the behavior of masters towards slaves, and
slaves towards masters, without ever once giving so much as a shadow of a hint that the
master was required by the laws of Christ to emancipate his bondmen (Ephesians 6:5-9;
Colossians 3:22-25 & 4:1; I Timothy 6:1-5, in which Paul very aptly describes the
Abolitionist character; Titus 2:9, 10; I Peter 2:18). For a thorough discussion of the
biblical data concerning slavery, I cannot recommend highly enough R.L. Dabney’s book A
Defense of Virginia and the South. Dabney, who was once General Jackson’s chief of
staff, deals very thoroughly with slavery in the Bible and in American history. I also
very highly commend Dabney’s article Anti-biblical Theories of Rights, which may be found
on page 497 of Volume 4 of Dabney’s works. I fear that all too many Southerners have
embraced the very anti-biblical theories of rights which Dabney describes, which has
caused them to come to agree with the bloodthirsty Abolitionists who started the war that
destroyed the Southern nation.

In short, we as Southerners need to cease and desist at once from denouncing slavery as a
sin, at least insofar as we consider ourselves Christians. The fact is that our Southern
forefathers were not only right on issues of the Constitution, state’s rights, economics,
etc., but they were also right on the issue of slavery. When we deny this, we give the
enemy a foothold that he should not have.

Respectfully,

Pastor Samuel Ashwood

Recently I had occasion to write a response to a gentleman who wrote an article in which he stated that slavery clearly was, and is, sinful.  Having studied the issue thoroughly from scripture, I could not but take issue with this blanket statement that has no biblical foundation.  I may perhaps post my own article later, but I received a response from Mr. Edward Allegretti, who wrote an excellent article on the same subject.  It is worth reading, and handles the subject very well from biblical and practical standpoints.

One day a few years ago I was at a wonderful bookstore in old downtown Greenwood.  A woman and I were in the same history section browsing through the books.  We politely exchanged greetings and, because I didn’t have a Delta accent, she inquired where I was from.  A polite conversation followed.  During our talk she happened to ask me, “Can you imagine that there were Christians who thought slavery wasn’t sinful?”  What struck me most about her comment was not that Christians thought it wasn’t sinful, but actually, where in the Bible does it say slavery was sinful.  Thus, I responded, “Where in the Bible does it say slavery is sinful?”  She replied that she didn’t know but that “everybody knows it is sinful.”

Was this woman correct, is slavery really a sin?  Is it true that we just know it and don’t have to search Scripture for the answer?  This caused me to ask myself, how much of what I believe concerning right and wrong comes from the politically correct and Godless culture we live in verses what truly is Biblical?  As we enter the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States I’ve also read comments that the abolitionists in the North wanted to end slavery because it was “sinful.”  Since these people were not Christians, most were Universalists and denied the deity of Christ, am I suppose to believe them and not the great Presbyterian ministers such as Dabney, Thornwell, Palmer, and Hodge?  And am I suppose to be ashamed of my fifth-great-grandfather, the Rev. Boyce Eidson who was also a slaveowner?
The real issue at hand is to know what is sinful.  To know this answer I insist one must search Scripture, and be wary of the harmful influences of our “politically correct” and Godless culture.  I think slavery is good example to be considered when discussing this issue.  A good example because it is one of the very few notions that the cultural elites, these believers in relative truth, will actually call a sin.  I say “actually” because generally the word sin and the concept of sin is anathema to them.
In addition to the short Bible verse mentioned earlier, what does Scripture tell us about slavery?  Some good thoughts and Scriptural references come from the following comments made by pillars of the Christian church:
The Rev. Dr. Richard Furman, former president of the South Carolina Baptist State Convention, explains in a letter to the Governor of South Carolina, “…for the right of holding slaves is clearly established by the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.  In the Old Testament, the Israelites were directed to purchase their bond-men and bond-maids of the Heathen nations;  except they were of the Canaanites, for these were to be destroyed.  And it is declared that the persons purchased were to be their ‘bond-men forever,’ and an ‘inheritance for them and their children.’  They were not to go out free in the year of jubilee, as the Hebrews, who had been purchased…”  Further, “The powerful Romans had succeeded, in empire, the polished Greeks;  and under both empires, the countries they possessed and governed were full of slaves.  Many of these with their masters, were converted to the Christian Faith, and received, together with them into the Christian Church, while it was yet under the ministry of the inspired Apostles.  In things purely spiritual, they appear to have enjoyed equal privileges;  but their relationship, as masters and slaves, was not dissolved.  Their respective duties are strictly enjoined.  The masters are not required to emancipate their slaves;  but to give them the things that are just and equal…Had the holding of slaves been a moral evil, it cannot be supposed, that the inspired Apostles, who feared not the faces of men, and were ready to lay down their lives in the cause of their God, would have tolerated it, for a moment, in the Christian Church.”
The Rev. Dr. James H. Thornwell, Presbyterian minister, professor, and Moderator of the General Assembly, explains, in “Relation of the Church to Slavery,” “Certain it is that no direct condemnation of Slavery can anywhere be found in the Sacred Volume….The master is nowhere rebuked as a monster of cruelty and tyranny, the slave nowhere exhibited is the object of peculiar compassion and sympathy…The Prophet or Apostle gives no note of alarm, raises no signal of distress when he comes to the slave and his master…The Scriptures not only fail to condemn Slavery, they as distinctly sanction it as any other social condition of man.  The Church was formally organized in the family of a slaveholder;  the relationship was divinely regulated among the chosen people of God…What the Scriptures have sanctioned she (the Church) does not condemn…the relationship of master and slave stands on the same footing with the other relations of life.  In itself considered, it is not inconsistent with the will of God – it is not sinful…”  And he says concerning those Christians who call slavery sinful, “They have settled it in their own minds that Slavery is a sin:  then the Bible must condemn it, and they set to work to make out the case that the Bible has covertly and indirectly done what they feel it ought to have done…they are not only striking at Slavery, but they are striking at the foundation of our common faith.  They are helping the cause of Rationalism.”
Another Presbyterian minister and professor, the Rev. Dr. Robert L. Dabney, explains much in his book, “A Defense of Virginia and the South.”  “We assert that the Bible teaches that the relation of master and slave is perfectly lawful and right, provided only its duties be lawfully fulfilled…we say that the relation is not sin in itself…Abraham and Isaac then, were all their lives literal slaveholders, on a large scale…Philemon was a slaveholder;  the very purpose of this affectionate epistle (Paul’s letter to Philemon) was to send back to him a runaway slave.  Here, then, we have a slaveholder, not only in the membership, but ministry of the Church.”
The Rev. Dr. John H. Hopkins, former Episcopal Bishop of Vermont, wrote in a letter to the Rev. Alonzo Potter, “…from the Bible that in relation to master and slave there was necessarily no sin whatever..  The sin, if there were any, lay in the treatment of the slave, and not in the relationship itself…they (Southern slave-owners) were only doing what the Word of God allowed, under the Constitution and established code of their country….I do not believe that Washington and his compatriots, who framed our Constitution with such express provisions for the rights of slaveholders, were tyrants and despots – sinners against the law of God….I know that the doctrine of the Church was clear and unanimous on the lawfulness of slavery for eighteen centuries…It may be that the authority of the Bible, the writings of the fathers, the decrees of the councils, the concurrent judgment of Protestant divines, and the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, may all be unable to resist the combined assaults of mistaken philanthropy, in union with infidelity, fanaticisms, and political expediency.”
From the above quotations we can see that slavery is not a sin.  Does that then mean that slavery as practiced by the masters of the Old South was perfect.  No, not any more than the leadership of all parents, husbands, civil, and church leaders today is perfect.  But imperfect parents doesn’t mean that parenting, for example, is a sinful institution.  Does this mean I’m advocating race based slavery, any type of slavery, that it is necessarily the best social relationship for mankind?  No.  Then why mention that slavery is not a sin?  Simply because we can only know truth by going to Scripture and not by listening to what politically correct and un-Godly people wish us to believe.

Ian Paisley’s Death

The link is to a brief article from Christianity Today regarding the death of Ian Paisley.  While not being very knowledgeable about the various political issues in which Dr. Paisley was entangled throughout his life, I know enough about him to greatly admire his bold and uncompromising preaching of the Gospel, and his thoroughgoing detestation of Roman Catholicism.  If you have an opportunity, search on YouTube for the video of him denouncing the Pope at the European congress (for which crime he was manhandled and dragged out of the auditorium).  May the Lord give us countless ministers with the zeal and love for Christ which characterized Ian Paisley.

John now describes his purpose for writing along these lines. Verse 4 may perhaps stand for an introduction to the entire epistle. His primary purpose in this letter is to establish the hearts of God’s people with all the comforts that only genuine faith in Christ can produce. But he also intends to separate the sheep from the goats. He wants God’s people to observe the things that distinguish them from the carnal professor. Thus, he lays down a number of tests whereby we may “know that we know Him.” His aim is to shatter the false confidence of those who say they know God while walking in darkness, while establishing the comfort and joy of those who truly have an unction from the Holy One.

His epistle, then, is addressed to the true believers in Christ. He desires that they may walk in fullness of joy. He will point them in that direction by reminding them of the evidences whereby they may know that they truly are the children of God. Those who see that they do love the brethren, walk in the commandments of God, and have the abiding presence of the Spirit, can indeed rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. John has no sympathy at all with the popish idea that no Christian can have true assurance of salvation. Fullness of joy can only come to those who are secure in the knowledge that they are Christ’s, and Christ is theirs. Those who genuinely are in saving relationship with the Saviour, John would have to walk above the doubts and fears to which believers are all too often subjected. They ought to have fullness of joy, because the joy of the Lord is our strength. Thus, the holy apostle states his purpose, and will quickly begin to explain the means whereby God’s children can attain to fullness of joy.

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