I assisted this week in about forty different funerals in Arlington National Cemetery. At each one, I stood about five feet away from the next of kin at the grave site. I watched mothers grieve the loss of their children. I saw brothers grieve the loss of their siblings. I saw children weep knowing that they will never see their parent again.
I particularly remember one such child. His shoulders shook uncontrollably. His face was covered in tears. His sobbing could be heard loudly, distinctly throughout the entire ceremony. He was about thirteen or fourteen years old and he was being forced to attend the funeral of his mother, a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army. He was just old enough to understand what was going on. He was obviously very torn emotionally.
It is always a joy, however, to hear the Chaplains step forward and share hope with these families. Most of the chaplains that I work with are protestant. One, in fact, is an Independent Baptist chaplain. With these, it is a joy to hear the comfort that they give as they present scripture pointing the family toward salvation that is only found in Christ.
Some, however, are not so comforting to me. I stand there at perfect ceremonial attention at some of the Catholic funerals being torn apart inside. I am trapped in a prison of ceremonial composure. The priest stands there and quotes his rituals, trying to lend hope to these families. The truth is, though, it is a false hope. Unless those people accepted Jesus Christ alone and apart from the church, the sacraments, their baptism, their good works, and everything else, then they did not taste of the salvation that God offered to them! They have no hope! They are being duped! They are being lied to! Satan has covered their eyes and is leading them down the broad road to destruction!
We live in such a pluralistic society, or a society where every religious view and belief is respected to be just as good and as plausible as every other view. Friends, this wicked, humanistic philosophy is destroying the fabric of the America that once was. In 1892, our national supreme court ruled unanimously in 'Church of the Holy Trinity v. The United States'
that this was a Christian nation. They didn't even hint at the possibility of pluralism, atheism, or even a 'religious' nation. Nor were they bothered that they might be violating the now famous doctrine of 'Separation of Church and State.'
They stated emphatically that "this is a Christian nation!"
Don't get me wrong. The American ideal has always included religious toleration. In fact, when Jacob Barsimson, the first Jewish American, stepped foot on American soil almost three hundred and fifty years ago, he was respected for his beliefs and given a fair chance in society. This is something that he could not find anywhere else. In fact, Israel was not even a nation at that time. This was the only nation in the world where he could participate in a free society.
America freely allowed for toleration but they did not change or throw out Christian influence in the public arena in order to avoid offending others. It was quite the opposite. Nearly one hundred percent of the Bible has been quoted in the United States Congress. In many states, it was required that a person present a clear salvation testimony in order to hold public office. This was the case in over half the states for a long time after the first amendment granted freedom of religion and nobody felt like it was in violation.
Our nations religious toleration (which has now been transformed into secular pluralism) should never cause us to lose sight of our mission on this earth. Our chief end in life should be that of convincing people of the truth. We must fight to spread the truth of God's Word throughout this land and throughout the world. Our faithful working toward the accomplishment of that mission is the only hope that many people on this earth may have.Point to Ponder:
What examples of pluralism have you seen in your life? What kind of situations have you found yourself in where you were forced to respect (or at least show
respect to) a non-Biblical religious view? My example, of course, would be me standing at the position of attention having to listen to the Catholic ritual at the funerals.