Further thoughts on race issue and the Gospel in light of two books
These were the full range of thoughts I had jotted down for the Sword of the Lord review. I had to trim it down as it was, fearing I might be “preaching” or “ranting” too much (though the author liked it!)
So here are the rest of the thoughts on the subject:
[preached against every sin except racial hatred]
The classic example of this can be found in the statement by Rice in a 1940 Sword magazine (quoted by Himes, P.218)
Preach on booze. Preach on the scarlet sin, adultery.Some cheeks will turn red with shame, and some won’t like it, but it will bring people to repentance. Preach on the dance, tell people it is rotten as sin. Tell people they dance because of they enjoy the lust, the deliberate inflamement of passion of the dance! They do! Preach on the movies made by vile, lewd people, holding up rotten moral standards, breaking down respect for marriage, pure love, hard work, God and the Bible. Preach against the Masonic lodges. Preach against evolution and false cults. Preach on death, sin, Hell, judgment! such preaching with boldness, with love, with tears, with scripture, with faith, will bring great revivals, will save hardened sinners.
This is basically the message I heard from conservative Christianity when I became aware of it in the 80’s (and this, from the more popular segment of fundamentalism that had already began veering away from the fundamentalism of Rice).
Notice how nearly everything is wrapped up in an almost purely sexual concept of “morality”, with the prime exceptions being “booze”, and then other belief systems.
Those are the three main “sins” that nothing less than “divine judgment” has been called down on the nation over; compared to a righteous past (extolled in the virtues of “marriage, hard work, God and the Bible”), ending roughly in the 1960’s (particularly with the removal of prayer in schools decision and the sexual revolution, of course).
|The race issue was seen as “unimportant” compared to the Gospel, except when favoring racial status-quo’s, which was important enough to be in fact equated with the Gospel!|
And then of course, the antidote to all those vices being preaching, which would “save” people and lead to revival. Revival that has yet not occurred, yet this is then blamed on preachers supposedly not following this instruction. (For examples of this, you can read a 1980 BJU “Faith For the Family” article criticizing Jerry Falwell, or a 2001 Revival Fires magazine article blaming the 9-11 “judgment” on churches using rap and rock music, among other things! Both of those movements had gone beyond even the Sword in their radical “conservativism”!)
They had basically decided for themselves (and everyone else) what “biblical issues” were, yet they did not cover every biblical issue, and at the same time, often went beyond the Bible’s definition of sin (like the assumption that alcohol and dancing were always sinful, even though both were mentioned positively (as well as negatively) in scripture.
It was a purely political “gospel”, which was precisely the countercharge leveled at the Left!
Notice also how “salvation” then becomes basically a result of man’s efforts motivated by fear, (which was precisely the method of those “false cults” referenced, with the only difference that they did not pretend to believe in the “orthodoxy” of “faith alone”).
Racism was in contrast seen as “not important” enough, and thus not as synonymous with “soul-saving” as these other issues were. If they did preach on it, it was to condemn the Civil Rights advocates, for their “civil disobedience”, and other supposed vices.
From the quote, it sometimes looks almost as if those “sins” were being trumped up to compensate, or even cover up for all the other things being neglected.
James spoke exactly to this sort of selectivity; and not the selectivity of the “sinners” of the world (who acknowledge murder as wrong, but think sexual activity should be totally free), but to the “religious”, who thought the opposite:
“For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” (2:11. And the race issue certainly crossed the line into “murder”, both literally, as well as spiritually, as per Matt. 5).
Also striking, considering the subtitle “A Plea for Patience, for Moderation and for Less Agitation and Pressure While Good Men Work Out Problems” is how those other sins were held as the prime example of the scripture’s teaching that “none are good” (Rom. 3:10f), yet when it comes to race, all of a sudden, there are “good” men after all, who should be given time to “work things out” (apparently, at their own convenience, and because of others’ evil, “agitating” the situation, by trying to get a group of people to stop being oppressed. And this “good “men” statement referring to politics; not even specifying the church —which would still be inaccurate!)
Even today, you will have the same sort of people dismiss both racism and economic inequality, as “well, there’s sin in the world, and as long as you have sinful men, you will have these problems”. “Saving souls” is a totally separate issue, that is much more important. However, when it comes to sexual sin and opposing religious/scientific/political beliefs, this and only this, they believe, can be preached away! Then, souls —and “the nation”— will be saved!
Where in any scripture is such a distinction between those particular sins made?
So sure enough, we see that the reason they didn’t preach on race ran deeper than it being merely “unimportant”, but rather because their philosophy did stem from from a belief that racism was Biblical! So the whole dismissal of the issue as “unimportant” compared to the Gospel was a lie, as it was important enough to defend the status-quo and oppose change, which was seen as defending the Gospel.
Though as time went on, it became a touchy subject, and we see here that people like Rice were sort of torn between their loyalty to what was seen as the pure Christianity (“faith of our fathers”), and realizing that perhaps the movement was a bit overboard in some respects.
[become touchy about the whole issue, unless it’s a fellow conservative highlighting blacks’ “problems” or blaming them for high taxes.]
Great boost to the conscience, and the oppression of these “problem people” must have been at least “understandable” if not justified, and thus not really that bad).
They often claim to be following Christ in “suffering persecution” for “taking the unpopular opinion” on moral or scientific issues; yet here was a perfect chance to stand up for the Bible against something much of the world was favoring. Instead, they compromised, and in fact, justified the institutions by proclaiming them God-ordained, thus bending God to fit their own idol.
|Fundamentalists pretty much decided for themselves which commandments were important (as much as they criticized the world for that)|
Using “fruits” and doctrine as tests of salvation leads to works’ righteousness. Conservatives don’t want to be judged for racism, and one of the accusations against the Social Gospel was “works-righteousness”. Salvation is “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”.
However, the JW’s, Mormons, Catholics, and modernists all “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ“. However, it is OTHER doctrines they believe, which they basically tack onto the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which (in the “orthodox” view) render their “gospel” FALSE, and the “Jesus” they believe in, false along with it, thus disqualifying them from “salvation”, even by “grace”, since a false Christ cannot save.
What they failed to realize, is that this same principle could be turned right back on them!
[Clearly, the racial ideology, wrapped up in fleshly human self-preservationism, was a false gospel…]
Exactly like the Israelites of Christ’s time, the entire plan of God for the world was assumed to be about the preservation and exaltation of a physical nation and its “culture”, and always at the expense of others.
If they thought slavery was so biblical, fine; but then why didn’t they offer to be the slaves, then? If they thought Jim Crow was biblical, why didn’t they give up the right to vote, or sit at the back of the bus? Wouldn’t that fit in with the ‘attitude’ scripture tells us to have? How did it end up always favoring their fleshy comfort?
Just like the Israelites, “Chosenness” by God meant special favors in this life in addition to Heaven in the next.
That is why Old Covenant Israel fell, and if we insist America is likewise falling, we cannot blame it only on the “ungodly”.
[If our own light was “darkness”, then how dark we were indeed…So they persecuted others at the same time as, and in fact under the premise of worrying that everyone was out to destroy or dominate them.]
(Classic “projection“, where you can clearly see (and rebuke) someone else doing the same thing you’re actually doing (Rom.2:1) but deny in yourself (or shift the attribution for it). One of the reasons they are so against all psychological concepts (one of their other pet peeves like music style) is because they expose things like this that they would have us believe are “standing up for God” at best, or a “sincere mistake” at worst. But if they really believed in human sin, then there should be no problem accepting this. Instead, it seems the concept of “regeneration” has been used to imply that they were totally acting under the control of the Spirit, so therefore, everything they did was presumed to be right, or at least not in conflict with the Word of God).
Instead of winning souls (which they claimed was so important there was no time for anything else), they were driving many away, including their own children, as we see with Himes and so many others.
When you look at movements that thrived off of this discord, such as the Black Muslims; why should they have believed in a God identified strictly with another group of people; who were also persecuting them?
If you try to appeal to the Israelites under Joshua and say “well, our God is just the true one and He sovereignly ‘chose’ us to rule”; why should they have believed that? You’re just another man, like they are. Even if you list all your cultural and spiritual accomplishments, you’re still fallible flesh and blood, and the Israelites actually did have God, supernaturally guiding them, not just claiming it by their good works. (And are we supposed to be holding up our works as justification?)
|If they thought slavery was so biblical, why didn’t they offer to be the slaves, then? If they thought Jim Crow was biblical, why didn’t they give up the right to vote, or sit at the back of the bus?|
John R. Rice harshly condemned people who opposed and/or dodged Vietnam, including “conscientious objectors”. But Muhammad Ali summed it up nicely when he asked why he should go and fight America’s enemies when America had made itself his enemy more than the Soviets ever did! (Rice himself had been drafted during WWI, but then was out in a year when the war ended, and entered the ministry).
[The ideology twisted scripture, and then presupposed itself as a given “truth” just like the doctrines of those other groups.]
And when confronted with it, they resort to the same excuses others use and they normally condemn, including “sincere belief“, and “offense”: (“changing it will offend others; we must take it slower”), relativizing truth just as much as modernists.
When modernists or any other “false” group appeal to “sincerity” (which is often the final authority in their views), the conservatives fire back that they are “sincerely wrong“. Why is “sincerity” only a valid excuse for them? If the people appeal to offense or personal preference, then the conservatives appeal to “the offense of the Cross/Gospel”. Why doesn’t this “offense” ever affect their wishes?
In this vein, they bestow so much grace to their own exposed humanity, while denying everyone else any “excuse”. Since they claim salvation is what separates them from “the unregenerate”, and that it is also by “grace”, then does grace give them the license to do the same things they preach against to others, (Rom. 2:1, 19-24; special note on last verse) and to place burdens on others they themselves will not even lift?
What remains is the appeal to good works compared to the sins of others. So this is just as much “works-righteousness” as what they accused others of.
At every turn they pat themselves on the back (“Protestant work ethic”, etc)
The only way to resolve the issue on their end is to call the sin what it was; a false gospel; and then dissociate themselves from it. (As it’s not even directly their own sin, as they often protest when under fire). Then, they won’t be so affected by what others say about racism, or playing a “card”. As long as they don’t; then all they will ever be able to do is make excuses for it and deflect criticism back to others (which always ends up becoming more racially charged or insensitive language): it wasn’t that bad, you race baiters are out to get us, look at those people and their problems; they’re just trying to get what’s ours through the government, etc. And the problem will go on.
Both books (Sword of the Lord, The New Jim Crow) show that Mammon was the idol behind the whole race issue (see outline of race history in New Jim Crow review).
We tend to assume every white family owned slaves. But a slave cost tens of thousands of dollars; which today would amount to tens of millions of dollars. Slaveowners were the wealthy of the day, and economically the counterparts to today’s big business executives and entrepreneurs —the same group continuing to be rigorously defended by conservatives (religious and political) who insist American history in the days of slavery and segregation was “good” and “Christian”.
It becomes obvious now what the whole game was about.
|If others can be “sincerely wrong”, then why is “sincerity” only a valid excuse for those whom conservatives favor?|
So while I had gone with the “new left” premise that economics was superseding race; it becomes clear now that it was really all about economics (wealth) the whole time, from slavery on! From colonialism and slavery to the present, it was all about the greed of corporatism (which today’s Conservatives see as our heroes and saviors). That’s really the common denominator in all the political strife in America, and much of the world.
The New Jim Crow points out how the tack was to turn the disenfranchised poor and middle class whites against the blacks, and this is precisely what has been going on to this day in conservative rhetoric that often suggests lazy blacks are causing high taxes, or are at least asking for some kind of “free ride” at everyone’s expense. Trillion dollar deficit, and a “grasshopper” analogy passed around by conservatives would suggest nonworking minorities are getting all of it.
That some people on assistance or otherwise labeled “poor” might have a color TV and other electronics; perhaps even a car, is cited. Right or wrong; that’s where trillions have gone! Not the corporations; they ‘deserve’ it, so their endless gravy train doesn’t count; their sitting on the money and not putting it back in the economy is the fault of all these other people, and them having even more would give us a “bigger pie”, unlike these “takers”.
They then turn to various statistics to try to prove blacks are “problematic”.
And by going along with this (whether “actively involved” in politics, or more “separatist”, yet still spewing the ideology), the conservative Church in the past was just as much fornicating with “the kings of the earth” as the Catholic Church they long tagged as “the Whore of Babylon”. It was the same cultural selling out of divine “blessing” in exchange for cultural power; “the very act that made a harlot of the mother” [Rev.17:5 harlot is a “mother” church] as one person put it. (Actually, the original “harlot” of the prophecy was really the institutionalized temple system in the NT, which similarly used its position with the Romans, whom they nevertheless resented ruling over them, to persecute Christians. So likewise, Christians today enjoy power in the midst of complaining how the “secular” society is against them)
So while they rebuff people focusing on “race” (which they long dismissed as not a biblical concern), when it becomes clear that the real sin involved was greed, then that sounds more like a [traditionally] “biblical” sin issue; doesn’t it, now?
What has been lacking the whole time is REPENTANCE. Both admitting it’s wrong in the first place, as well as turning from both beliefs and practices associated with it.
Like every other sinner hiding behind works-righteousness, they trumped up the other commands of God that they condemned others for violating, and hid the one they were trampling on.
Failure to confess and repent led successive generations to replace one institution with another one when the previous one was forced to end (as Alexander points out). They can’t admit the first one was wrong so they grudgingy let it go, but then try to justify its principle with something else, more and more disguised as not intentional.
Himes connects this to the mythos of “The Lost Cause“, where a Confederate general and his troops escaped to Mexico, and thus technically “never surrendered”, and leaving the struggle of the Confederacy open to “live on”.
Just look at the utter, fatuous, puffed up PRIDE in that. And pride is supposed to be a sin, especially when they are preaching to or about others on it! If Christ had taken that kind of stance, we’d all be doomed! And this is what we look up to as our “godly heritage”!
And what happened to “store not up treasures on earth…where thieves break in to steal…”, which they also preached to those they tried to subjugate?
(Himes also cites fundamentalist J. Frank Norris as connecting the battle against modernism with the Lost Cause! Another missed parallel (like the blacks with the Samaritans) was with the Zealot sect in AD70, who holed themselves up in the Masada fortress after the Temple was destroyed vowing never to surrender. Instead of fleeing, they committed suicide, and eerily foreshadowing “the South Shall Rise Again”, the cause lives on today through some Israel Defense Forces, who climb the mountain and declare “Masada Shall Not Fall Again”)
And that’s all we have seen from Conservativism ever since. The federal government is taking something from them and giving to those who don’t “deserve” it (one thing after another–first, “states rights”/slavery, then segregation, then “social programs”/taxes, finally, the moral and religious issues), and they want “their nation” back!
So it led Confederates to wage war and a perpetual Lost Cause when others tried to end slavery. It led to the Klan and later Jim Crow, after the Confederates lost, and yet people still had to try to hold on to as much of the system as they could. It then led to all the philosophy and political strategies constructed to paint blacks in the most negative ways; and the unrest of the Civil Rights era. It’s also believed to have led to a lopsided drug war coupled with a mass incarceration system, that presents lifetime Jim Crow-like restrictions for people with a drug record. So it’s no longer the whole race; just as many as we can get caught up in this system as possible.
And it continues to lead people to lash back, and blame blacks or liberals (and all these “social programs”; even though reformed) for all the economic problems today, while defending the big business leaders who are really the ones milking the country dry. (Again, as Alexander points out, the tactic from slavery onward was always for the elites to get the disenfranchised poor whites against the blacks. This is what we continue to see when they still blame welfare; and now, among some, it’s even “union government jobs”).
Hence, why race remains a touchy subject and people’s consciences imagine a million blacks asking to get their money and using the government giving it to them.
As an African American, not only are my ancestors commonly remembered as idol-worshipping, often “sensuous” pagans, but even my race today in America is commonly viewed as violent immoral criminals. Also, you have black “hate” groups, such as Black Muslims, and even a “Black Hebrew” movement I see preaching every weekend at a big subway terminal and a few other places in the city at times.
Now, I can’t justify any of that with scripture. All I can do is keep myself out of it, dissociate from the sins or the negative aspects of the subculture (not the people in themselves), and my worth as a person and standing before God is between me and Him.
I can understand why they believe or act the way they do. I can even explain it to those who just judge without trying to understand better. But that’s different from excusing it, by saying it is Biblical.
Unlike conservatives, who view their opponents as 100% wrong on everything, and having no sort of validity anywhere, I can get annoyed or touchy when I see people hyping up these things. It is an embarrassment. But I’m not operating off of any “our culture was good and godly, and others messed it up” (as much as conservatives like to accuse people of painting tribal society as faultless or “blaming whitey” for everything, and notice who uses the racially charged terms like that in the debate). So I can acknowledge the errors of those groups.
So the same with conservatives and historic racism. No one can legitimately hold them accountable for their ancestors, if they don’t somehow identify with it and keep trying to justify it (or maintaining the overall “righteousness” of the people in the past who were guilty of it, which requires minimizing the evil of their actions). And their guilt (which they have taken on from those things because of identifying with them) would be resolved as well.
But the whole problem here with certain groups is a refusal to admit that those in the past were sinful, wicked people, who even worse than the unbelieving “heathen”, misused God’s Word to support their greed-driven persecution of others.
(And we should know better than to think that their supposed moral or doctrinal purity makes up for other sins).
That is only a bitter pill to swallow if you stake your whole worth and standing before God on the “righteousness” of your ancestors, your nation’s history, and your “traditional culture”.
But are these what anyone is supposed to take as their refuge? If you’re hiding behind these things; you’re not trusting in Christ! It’s self righteousness, pure and simple; and precisely what the Christ-rejecting Israelites of the New Testament were guilty of.
So now, since America is the chosen “Christian” nation, then anything seen as its ‘original values’ must be right, and what everything else is to be judged by. Hence, both racism in the past, and the flaws of capitalism in the present being ignored, excused, or the resulting problems blamed on other people or trends.
|The “Lost Cause” is a different gospel that stakes our collective standing before God on the supposed righteousness of our nation’s history and “traditional culture”. But if we’re hiding behind these things; we’re not trusting in Christ!|
If a “conservative Christian” who upholds these things can’t renounce the sins of their fathers, you wonder how they themselves were ever able to take the very first step of “conversion to Christ”, and repent of their own sins.
With the remarkably young ages many ultra-conservative Christians (particularly those whose whole families were deeply Christian, such as those involved in ministry) testify to being “converted” at (which is usually defined in terms of an “altar call”, and then obediently following what they were taught afterward), you wonder if they have really ever felt the humbling sense that they are wicked sinners who have done wrong to both God AND fellow man. Was it real conviction, or just a doctrinal protocol?
It is so ironic; seeing how hard they are on the Catholic Church and mainline Protestants over “infant baptism”. Yet some of the ages I am seeing in “testimonies”, for which they converted is not all that far removed from infancy!
The whole reason infant baptism was wrong in the first place, is because you are doing this “deed” for this child to try to get them into Heaven, yet they themselves did not personally choose Christ. They could not possibly understand enough to do so. Yet you’re making think they have some merit before God.
But how much more does a five year old, or even a nine year old understand about sin and salvation? Again, it’s just a matter of following whatever they were taught.
They see the “changed life” as everything following the altar call. It did not need to be questioned or even examined, (and in fact, to question much of it was ‘infidelity’). No matter what it was. Including stuff like racism. As long as it had its proof-text; it must be right and from God. (You don’t even have to really study the text to see if it’s being interpreted properly. Not even a cursory reading of the immediate context. Genesis 9 and 2 Cor.6:14 are prime examples, in the race issue).
Another theologically conservative movement, known as “Lordship salvation” (basically associated with John MacArthur, and represented in the SBC by the “Grace To You” ministry, and whose most aggressive advocate is evangelist Paul Washer, whose preaching even some fundamentalists I have seen claim, “scares” them) goes as far as to declare up to 2/3rds of conservative Baptists or evangelicals as not really saved, falsely trusting in an “altar call” and/or “sinner’s prayer”.
They seem to hold a Calvinized version of perfectionism, that IMO compromises Grace every bit as much as Pelagianism, and ultimately leaves no kind of hope or assurance of salvation. Yet I can now see why they would question such a “conversion”, though while hypothetically posing the question myself, here, I would still insist Grace (not good works under the premise of “fruits”) is the hope. But then that will mean that perhaps some of these people the fundamentalists have been denouncing should be granted grace as well.
They may have had incredible guilt trips laid on them for little acts of mischief at young ages, as Himes testifies to being made to realize he “deserved to writhe in Hell for eternity” for stealing candy, lying, etc. by the time he was five years of age (p101). So yes, they might testify to “remorse” and “contrition” for those things during a childhood altar visit. But that’s quite a different thing than all the beloved ideologies and self-glorifying self-preservation taught by the culture, and never questioned; and then adopted by fully conscious choice in adulthood. That is a LOT harder to “repent” of, apparently, as many of these people had shown when confronted with the sin. They have likely ‘gotten by’ without ever repenting of that stuff, as again, it was not seen as sin.
We end up with the irony that a person is more likely to “repent” of it in rebelling against everything they were taught, including turning away from Christ! Isn’t this a colossal shame, and a travesty of scripture?! Repentance from a particular sin more likely to occur in conversion FROM Christianity, than in conversion TO Christianity! Paul speaks of the notion of the sins of Christians possibly being even greater than the unconverted! (1 Cor.5:1. And remember, the sin is not any ‘better’ just because it’s not sexual sin, as in that case!)
And this can be no one else’s fault than the “Christian” culture itself; not the liberals, or modernists, or socialists, nor the rebelling kids themselves!
So THIS is “Why No Revival?” as the popular Chick tract asks, and then suggests it’s only because of basically, the flaws of new-evangelicalism (including stuff like Christian rock and modern Bible versions). The tract suggests “broken Christians” as one of the solutions, but overall, in their very own camp, there is/was absolutely no brokenness. Less so than any other group, in fact! They were anything but broken and contrite. That state seemed to be relegated to a distant visit to the altar in childhood. From there afterward, it was all incredibly “puffed up” posturing, based on a notion of being God’s modern prophets.
So it’s easy to see why they go on the defensive and feel wrongfully maligned and robbed when people demand justice.
Many offer some sort of general cliché gesture, like “we should all welcome other races”, “colorblindness”, etc. (and Sumner mentions a George Washington Carver celebration they substitute for an MLK celebration), but this does not really mean much if one still insists their “godly forefathers” or other predecessors were so right, and the society they maintained so unblemishedly good, and pointing at others or their “culture” today as so incorrigibly bad. That basically contradicts what you claim to be saying today (plus, the fact that your “fathers” would still denounce you as ‘infidels’ and traitors for opening up to blacks even that much!) Sitting on the fence like that gains favor from neither side.
Again, revival would be more likely to come if the purported leaders of it would set the example themselves and just really admit this stuff was wrong (and that means not just racism, but the whole “Lost Cause” they are still fighting! Let it stay “lost”. It’s totally earthly! It is not “The Lord’s battle”; but rather a false religion of their own fleshy self-preservation, with Christ’s name and various proof-texts pasted onto it (and rather sloppily, in places). It all boils down to the antibiblical notion of the “chosenness” and righteousness of one’s culture or past generations that it was justified by, and drives the hostility to both the world and rest of the church today), and also, break the pattern of reverse blaming of a race, and uncritical support of corporatism as innocent and benevolent as we see today.
Summary of The “Lost Cause” (in all of its manifestations):
- Our heritage is that of the “Chosen” people
- “Chosenness” is divinely ordained earthly privilege and political favor
- Chosenness is evidenced by good works; therefore we are to follow “the faith of our fathers”, as everything they did was right
- This heritage has been wrongly taken from us and we want it back!
The flipside (whether explicit or not):
- people who are not chosen are condemned, according to the Gospel [though individuals from unchosen groups can be saved].
- The condemnation, in this life, is subjugation, and their desire for equality is an unearned “entitlement mentality”.
- Their sins are evidence of this, therefore everything they say or do is wrong
- They’re out to get us.
The true Biblical gospel:
- God created out of one blood the whole human race, in His image (Gen. 1:26, Acts 17:26)
- Man fell, and all are by nature, sinful (Gen. 3, Romans 3) including the causes of pain and suffering and the desire to dominate over others and live luxuriously
- It is by Grace alone that any are justified (Romans; Eph.2:8,9) and we are still sinful even after conversion
- The Old Covenant is the record of man’s need for redemption. Allowances like physical inheritance ended at the Cross and are not to be copied in the New Covenant (Gal 3:24, 1 Cor. 10:11, Matt.9:17)
Again, you cannot lead a revival centered on the Biblical gospel if you operate off of a notion of your own goodness, individual or collective (even if you try to attribute it to God) and misunderstand the nature of God’s plan, the nature of regeneration, and what people are “chosen” for; contradicting the Gospel at its very root.