Scripture teaches us the necessity of being good evangelists (Matt. 28), but it also teaches us to be good watchmen (Ezek. 33) over the city and over the people. Shouldn’t we be just as concerned about the consequences of evil being unleashed–even on the Church–by corporate entities as we are about the salvation of souls?
How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! – Matt. 23:37
An Understanding & Definition
Our mission at Tanglewood Ministries is to teach how evil can be restrained and how to live together in an orderly manner–something that must be taught regularly in churches today by
Showing love for Christ by obeying what He commands. (John 14:15)
Warning against corporate violations of the Moral Law thereby subjecting whole groups and even nations to God’s judgment. (Ezek. 18:30)
Subjecting ourselves to governing authorities [except when those authorities command us to disobey God]. (Rom. 13:1 and Acts 4:18)
Understanding the doctrine of Common Grace whereby God can and does restrain evil through governing authorities (Romans 13) and makes the same promise to us today found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. So, isn’t it also Good News when nations begin to live under His protection? The answer is yes, and these things need to be taught in our churches.
While we support the work of today’s church and para-church ministries, our role at Tanglewood Ministries is to warn others about corporate groups (government, academia, big tech, banking, and even the established church, etc.) who violate the Moral Law of God. Scripture teaches us the necessity of being good evangelists (Matt. 28), but it also teaches us to be good watchmen (Ezek. 33) over the city and over the people. Shouldn’t we be just as concerned about the consequences of evil being unleashed–even on the Church–by corporate entities as we are about the salvation of souls? Biblically and historically, there is always a high price to pay for not heeding the warnings of Scripture, for not seeking God’s protection, and for not sounding the alarm when corporate groups violate His Moral Law.
Recently a group of Roman Catholic bishops met to discuss whether Catholic politicians like Joe Biden should continue to receive Communion because of their personal and political pro-choice positions. At a conference in November of 2021, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops passed a document by a vote of 222-8 which appeared to empower individual priests to deny Communion to pro-abortion rights politicians should they encounter them. Equally important is the corporate nature of the president’s sin. Shouldn’t that be the proper role of the Church and its leaders as well? Exercised biblically, the church has always had great spiritual power to proclaim everything Christ commanded–including His warnings–and it still does–even to a president and to a nation who follows him in his political position on abortion.
Remember to be thankful for those who do acknowledge and teach soundly on the moral issues. We may disagree doctrinally on many points with Roman Catholics, who are also concerned about the moral injuries to everyone caused by corporate sins (e.g., the political position of politicians on abortion), but again we should be thankful for these bishops who were concerned enough about the spiritual health of the president, other politicians, and the church to discuss the issue and pass a document.
Also, be concerned about the medium used to convey the message, but not at the expense of the biblical message. The medium needs to be constantly evaluated to make sure that all that Scripture says on a subject is being proclaimed. The medium used at Tanglewood Ministries, and the one we are proposing to the church, is both predictive (one who warns about ignoring God’s Moral Law) and evangelistic (the Gospel). Both must be delivered with grace and mercy, and both are Good News.
Unfortunately, today, the evangelistic duties of the church often minimize the importance of its predictive duties–as is the case when we warn individuals and groups of the consequences of their sinful actions. What is needed is “salt and light” (Mt. 5:13-16) in both areas. The proper balance between the evangelistic and predictive focus of Scripture is best accomplished when we teach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26-27). It’s not either/or, but both/and because both evangelistic and predictive duties are fundamental to Christian thought and doctrine.
Below is a letter I recently wrote to a follow pastor. It is meant to be analogous to Lam. 5:7 (“We bear their punishment”) but only in the sense when we actually commit the same sin or remain silent (also sinful) which precludes a deterministic view of this verse.
“Our fathers sinned and are no more, and we bear their punishment.” (Lam. 5:7)
My Dear Brother,
It is so good to hear from you; and I well understand, regarding church matters, the importance of smooth transitions between the retiring pastor and new pastor. I think for most matters that a gentleman’s agreement–not to meet with anyone relative to church matters without the new pastor being present as you have describe–works best.
That being said, the old adage “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is still very prevalent today. Most church members look for solid biblical teaching and a pleasant time among believers, even if only one day a week. They need and deserve this time. Some think only in these terms, but there is another consideration which must also be taught and nurtured. There are times when immediate attention to an unpleasant and troubling matter is warranted, and that somehow light will come out of darkness.
Such is a time for the Presbyterian Church in America. Knowledge of the Revoice movement and “same-sex attracted candidates” to the Gospel ministry came as a shock, and perhaps too late (though we pray not), for most members and ruling and teaching elders to reverse the trend of events. Early on, proceedings in church courts were in the hands of some very capable and powerful men–men I might add whom I love as brothers, though I think some were wrong in their understanding of Scripture and of our Confessions regarding “Side B” ordination.
The message contained in my poster (“The PCA will never be able to argue “side B” ordination in God’s court) summarizes my biblical understanding on the subject of same-sex attracted, or in the vernacular of Revoice advocates, “Side B” (attracted, but not practicing homosexuality) candidates to the Gospel ministry. According to the Bible and the Westminster Confession of Faith (the lens through which Reformed Presbyterians understand theology, just as a Baptist would utilize the Baptist Confession or a commentary by C.H. Spurgeon), ordaining a man who is same-sex attracted should not to be permitted (Rom. 1:18-27); and that this is not just the concern of a few church leaders, but should be the immediate concern of all church members.
If the “Side B” doctrine is neither “expressly set down in Scripture” nor “deduced from Scripture” (WCF 1:6), and if the Progressive “Side” B proponents outmaneuver the Confessional proponents, then isn’t this a case of corporate sin in the PCA, and shouldn’t we all (including me as a Teaching Elder) bear the punishment of others if we continue in their ways (my understanding of Lamentations 5:7 from the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible)? This summer’s PCA General Assembly will be a test case, like no other, to determine if the PCA remains Reformed. Our prayer is that the PCA will remain Reformed, but only if it rejects the “Side” B doctrine.
For inexplicable reasons, some may not be moved by my references to Scripture and to the Confessions of Our Faith, so I am providing a relevant warning from Franco-English writer and historian, Hilaire Belloc:
“In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true.
We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.”
Charlie Rodriquez is a retired Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and lives in the Dallas, Texas area.