Did Christ Authorize The Church To Celebrate The Lives of Social And Political Reformers?

By Ron Halbrook

Christ said, “I will build my church . . . . the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 16:18-19). “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). Jesus did not pretend to be a social and political reformer. He did not establish his church or kingdom for social and political purposes. “My kingdom is not of this world,” he told Pilate (Jn. 18:36). The kingdom or church of Christ is spiritual in nature. It is concerned with the remission of sins and with the hope of eternal life in heaven (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 1:3-5).

At the heart of the gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-8). When we are immersed in water by the authority of Christ, we identify with his death for the remission of our sins and with his resurrection in order that we may live a new life (Rom. 6:14). Christ took unleavened bread and fruit of the vine to represent his body and blood, and ordained that this supper of the Lord be kept in his kingdom every first day of the week (Matt. 26:26-29; Acts 20:7). He ordained that we give of our material prosperity for the work of his kingdom every first day (1 Cor. 16:2; 4:17). The pattern of worship included prayers, songs, and teaching of God’s Word (Acts 2:42; Eph. 5:19).

In other words, all scriptural worship directs our hearts and souls to the God who made us and the Christ who saved us! We are not to exalt and celebrate men – but God! It is good to remember the godly lives and lessons of men of faith, in so far as they point us to God (Heb. 11:1-12:4; 13:7). But Christ does not authorize special seasons and celebrations in the church centered upon men (Gal. 4: 10-11). All such special days in the church are human rather than divine appointments, and are therefore sinful (2 Jn. 9).

The church of Christ in the Bible never celebrated the lives of social and political reformers. The Lord’s true church does not do so today. Carnal minded men in the religious world have at different times and places promoted special services to celebrate the lives of such men as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The folly of such carnal proposals can be seen in the simple fact that all of these men held views which contradict the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whatever good they may have done in worldly affairs, they were enemies of the gospel.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence and father of our country, believed in God and said that Jesus taught the highest morals known to man. But Jefferson believed that Jesus did not complete his teaching, was not inspired of God, and was not the divine Son of God. The virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus were denied by Jefferson.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-68), hailed by many as a great preacher as well as a social and political reformer, denied God’s direct and miraculous inspiration of the Bible (1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16). He regarded as myths the prophecies of the Bible and the virgin birth of Jesus recorded in Matthew 1 and Luke 2. King denied the literal deity of Jesus, and Jesus told such unbelievers, “Ye shall die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24). “I’m not concerned with the New Jerusalem” in heaven but with social reforms on earth, King said of his work (Life Magazine, Nov. 1960, p. 134). King’s many adulterous affairs are no longer hidden (see Time Magazine, 19 Jan. 1987, p. 24). The Bible warns against false teachers “having eyes full of adultery” – men who preach “liberty” while “they themselves are the servants of corruption” (2 Pet. 2:19).

No, Christ did not authorize the church to celebrate the lives of social and political reformers! Such activities violate the authority of Christ and degrade the church. Stubborn hearted men answer, “We will do it anyway – Bible or no Bible!” When we oppose such activities for their lack of Bible authority, Satan will put into the hearts of some men to reply, “You are just a racist!” Name-calling cannot settle the issue. In fact, such a reply reflects a racist mentality by trying to prejudice our readers because of the race of the author of this article. Could a black preacher point out the absence of Bible authority for the church to celebrate Jefferson without being a racist? We oppose the church celebrating Jefferson (white) or King (black) – and for the same reason – Christ did not authorize it.

Guardian of Truth XXXII: 5, p. 141
March 3, 1988