So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. - Matthew 10:32-33 (ESV)
If you have never heard of the Church of the Highlands, you are not alone. In Alabama however they appear to be a very popular mega, multi-site church. They actually have 26 sites across Alabama. Their lead pastor is someone named Chris Hodges, who I do not believe I have covered before. In doing daily research I came across his name and the above link to a sermon he had done called the Marks of a Shifting Culture. Immediately the NAR dominionist radar warnings went off, so I decided to do a sermon review. Please realize this is what is being taught to people instead of the word of God. Instead of the uncompromised gospel. Now I will admit that Hodges appears saner than most NAR dominionist preachers, but the core concern remains a pitting of the church against the world. This is the enemy's scheme to get the people who claim the mantle of Christ to hate the very people who need the gospel the most.
The premise behind this sermon is that the culture in the world has shifted somehow, away from God. It is the fundamental false argument underpinning dominionism. The reality is at no time in history did this country follow God. It remains the best societal experiment in secular history but that does not make it ancient Israel. Replacement theology is a false theology. We are grafted in. We do not get to choose to enter covenant relationships with God - He chooses and He chose Israel, not America. America was founded on economic rebellion, in violation of scripture I might add and was built on the backs of slavery and child labor until the 1900s. Now, America has done plenty of "good" in the secular world but the dominionist argument that it somehow was cuddling with Jesus for hundreds of years and has been now led astray by the wicked Democrats is asinine and ignorant of both history and the bible. I used to teach both, so I know this very well. America is also responsible for the most heresy being exported to foreign countries. Five of the wealthiest pastors are now in Africa, which has been corrupted by American apostate teachings. That said, Hodges starts out by bragging that he has been just exegeting the Book of Daniel verse by verse. This is a plan that should be commended that most churches should follow - just not the way that Hodges does. You see, verse by verse exegesis does not matter if you are still looking to leverage the text for pre-biased matters. He admits the topic of cultural shifting was chosen because of the claim that his sheep asked for it, not because he happened upon Daniel Chapter One. While we are discussing it, if your sheep are asking about the world and not matters of God, perhaps that is an indication you should examine the subject matter you keep teaching them.
Now, some of his arguments early on are tortured attempts to drag the NAR cultural wedge issues into scripture but the efforts are clumsy at best. The fact that King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to teach the exiles Babylonian language and literature has nothing to do with "something happening in our schools today." The first complaint Hodges levies in his argument is that culture will always confuse our identity. For his proof he offers up Daniel and the three Hebrew boys as proof because their names were changed. Now, it is true that if we are taken into captivity by an ancient king, he may insist that we not called ourselves by the names that represent our God because he has a whole different set of false gods. I get that. To try and correlate this however to identity issues in the world today falls on its face. No one is demanding that Christians change their names. To further deepen his theological problem however, Hodges essentially lies about the name changes. His assertions are:
Daniel to Belteshazzar - Daniel meant "God is my judge," which is true. Hodges claims however that Belteshazzar was a name for a girl and meant, "Lady protect the king." I am unsure where Hodges got such a wildly inaccurate translation, but I am willing to guess it came from an NAR source. I did some research, and all reputable sources agree that Belteshazzar meant - "Bel protects his life." Who was Bel? Just the national God of Babylonia. So, it is true that they wanted to get rid of the name that referred to the Hebrew God in favor of the Babylonian god, but this nonsense about female names is simply wrong. he makes the point of course to further disparage the gender confusion issues in the world today but he has to lie to get there. He actually claimed that gender confusion was first seen in the Book of Daniel. Cringe. It did not stop there: