This new statement on religious freedom and Christian worship is worth reading and signing:
My title asks a serious question, and is especially relevant today since plenty of Christians may not know where they stand on that divide. Would they align themselves with Moses and seek for religious liberty and the freedom to worship Almighty God, or would they side with Pharaoh and the state, and simply submit to whatever they are ordered to do?
I wrote about this earlier in the year:
Anyone familiar with one of the great religious freedom stories found in the Bible – the exodus – will see the obvious similarities. Moses told the state (Pharaoh and the Egyptians) to let God’s people go so they could worship God. Pharaoh refused, and a major power encounter took place.
After ten horrific plagues, and the climactic Red Sea incident, the pagan rulers learned the hard way that they should not mess with God, and with the right of God’s people to worship. It never ends well when the state seeks to keep the church under its thumb.
Yet so many Christians today would actually have sided with Pharaoh! We simply need to look at how many Christians, Christian leaders, and churches have fully and happily gone right along with all the draconian lockdown measures over the past year.
While a few have spoken out and sought to allow worship to take place (with sensible safety measures in place), most have simply caved in. They actually agree with the tough measures of the state, and seem to agree with it when it declares worship and church services to be ‘non-essential services’.
And worse yet, far too many Christians have actually denounced churches and leaders who have defied the state and remained open…. billmuehlenberg.com/2021/05/14/when-the-state-displaces-god/
I bring this up again since many folks who call themselves Christians have been very quick to attack and pass judgment on others who believe that religious freedom is vitally important, and that draconian government lockdowns and various medical mandates are very problematic indeed.
These sorts of matters are discussed wisely and biblically in the recently released Ezekiel Declaration. See here for more on this important document: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/08/29/the-ezekiel-declaration/
Yet some religious leaders have decided to attack it and those who support it, recklessly claiming this is not a loving or Christian thing to do. In my book these folks are little more than armchair critics and Pharisees. They are well worth ignoring. After all, they seem to prefer siding with Pharaoh rather than Moses.
The Moses Statement
With a new declaration having just been written on this very matter of religious liberty and the importance of viewing Christian worship as an essential service and a basic human right, I can safely predict that these same unedifying critics will attack this document as well. I refer to the Moses Statement.
Penned by five church leaders, it makes a careful and biblical case for the right to freely worship, and not let the ever-increasing State determine when and where and if people can worship God. After a longer and Scripture-saturated Preamble that looks at what the Bible says about civil government and its limited authority, the writers offer this eight-point Declaration:
As Christians, who seek, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength:
We declare that there is no other head of the Church, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns supreme as King over all authorities and rulers (Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 28:18; Colossians 1:15-18; Ephesians 1:20-23).
We declare that while we are called to submit to the government, we cannot obey the government if it requires us to disobey God (Acts 5:29; Romans 13:3-4; 1 Peter 2:13-17; Exodus 1:15-20; Mark 12:17).
We declare that the worship of God is the most important activity and privilege of human existence (Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:1-11, 1 Peter 2:4-10, Revelation 7:9-12).
We declare that the public gathered worship of God is essential to the church (Ephesians 3:20-21; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 7:9-12).
We declare that loving the Lord our God means loving and valuing His worship (Exodus 25-31; Numbers 3:4; 1 Corinthians 11:27).
We declare that loving our neighbour involves the provision of care for their souls (Mark 8:36; Romans 10:1).
We declare that in times of crisis, we must, all the more urgently, call upon the name of God in public worship (Joel 1:14, Joel 2:12-13, Luke 13:4-5, Hebrews 12:7).
We declare that since the Lord has commanded us and given us the right to worship, it is wrong for any government or official to obstruct gatherings for public worship, especially at a time like this.
We respectfully and dutifully urge you to allow Christ’s church to gather together for public worship.
You can read it and sign it here: caldronpool.com/mosesstatement/
Please do both, and share it far and wide.
Legal challenge to Pharaoh
In addition to this declaration and the earlier Ezekiel Declaration, there is other action under way here in Australia. A legal challenge has been launched about this blatant attack on religious freedom. Ben Davis of Caldron Pool explains:
Three evangelical pastors, along with several Jewish congregations, have filed a joint lawsuit with the Australian Federal Government, seeking an injunction against the New South Wales and Victorian Government’s current COVID-19 lockdown measures.
The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in the Federal Court, argues the state governments have selectively discriminated against religious groups in denying citizens the ability to congregate in Houses of Worship by arbitrarily deeming them “non-essential,” while allowing the public to gather elsewhere, such as in supermarkets and liquor stores.
The lawsuit will argue that Houses of Worship provide significant spiritual, psychological, and emotional support for communities, especially those who are suffering financially and psychologically from the impacts of the state government’s lockdown policies.
Furthermore, it will be argued that the governments’ indiscriminate selection of “essential” and “non-essential” venues under the Public Health Order is not supported by robust scientific or medical evidence.
According to the complaint, neither the NSW nor Victorian Governments have the constitutional or common law power to deny citizens their religious freedom which includes their ability to fulfill particular religious obligations and practices in their designated House of Worship.
You can read the whole article here: caldronpool.com/breaking-religious-leaders-file-huge-lawsuit-against-state-governments-to-restore-freedoms/
It is good to know that some action is finally being taken on this. Too many Christians have been far too acquiescent and sheepish, assuming that if the State does something, we must just sit in silence, like lambs to the slaughter. Christians are just as much citizens in Australia as anyone else, and we should all be concerned when basic human rights are being smashed and religious freedom is being gutted.
Please keep this legal initiative in your prayers. It is a sad situation indeed when believers have to resort to using their rights as citizens to redress such injustices and attacks on our faith. But we largely have ourselves to blame for this. We have sat by like stunned mullets while the other side declared a secular jihad against all that we hold near and dear.
Silence and submission in the face of injustice is never a Christian option. We must speak out. We must start acting as salt and light. We must stand up for Christ and his Kingdom, and not just sit by while all of our freedoms are stolen away from us and our neighbours.
I leave you with two quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and then two from Dr. Martin Luther King:
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
“If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.”
“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
Here is the latest news on the court challenge: “Federal Court Says Australians Do Not Have the Right to Worship”. See this article for more: caldronpool.com/federal-court-says-australians-do-not-have-the-right-to-worship/
And this just in from the US:
California officials have agreed to pay $800,000 in prevailing-party attorneys’ fees to a popular Christian megachurch in Los Angeles after state and federal courts in California issued permanent injunctions barring government officials there from ever again imposing discriminatory restrictions on houses of worship. In the United States, unsuccessful litigants only rarely have to pay their opponents’ legal fees, even when their cases are weak.
Although it’s common in other parts of the Anglosphere such as the United Kingdom and Canada for the unsuccessful party in civil litigation to be required to pay the legal costs of the successful litigant, it’s “very rare” for it to happen in the United States, Paul Jonna, Thomas More Society special counsel, told The Epoch Times.
The Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, represented Grace Community Church (GCC) and Pastor John MacArthur in legal proceedings that began in March 2020 when California and local governments initiated a sweeping response to combat SARS-CoV-2… www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_morningbrief/governments-must-pay-800k-in-legal-fees-to-church-for-covid-overreach_3979180.html
Religious freedom matters. It is time we stand up for it before we lose it all.