I have sometimes wondered if it’s part of Satans work to hinder real Christians by bulking up the statistics with droves of false, professing Christians who simply enjoy Christian values to salve their consciences or for social expediency. It seems many public figures who profess to be Christians and then get censored for their values, don’t often have even basic belief systems that are consistent with scripture. Obviously, Satan must enjoy fooling millions into thinking they’re right with God when they don’t even have a basic understanding of the Biblical Gospel. I’m sure that strategically, there are many reasons for this.
As strange as it sounds to say, if I were Satan, I would work hard to limit true Christians in America by making them seem like a much larger, more politically charged group than they really are. I would create whole movements of Christian-like lobbyists in order the rally the enemies of Christ to action against Christian values. I would influence whole movements of people that adopt what they think is Christianity, when it’s just a counterfeit. Then I would want them to be outspoken. That way, true Christians look like weird, fringe, ascetics. My millions of false converts could then become influential enough to get the attentions of political leaders. Opposition would then ensue. My hope would be that somewhere in the mix, true Christendom would be affected and hindered. My actual target would be the faithful few. Professing Christendom would just be my tool. I would use them to unwittingly create challenges for the small percentage of true Christians. And as a bonus, millions will be surprised when the Lord says, “depart from me… I never knew you.” Of course, I’m not Satan despite what my Kindergarten teacher must have thought (Sorry, Mrs. Goldberg). Not being Satan, all I can do is presume his strategy.
There is in fact a possibly fitting example of this that happened 50 years ago this week. Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the first men to walk on the moon conducted a number of activities that perhaps you’ve not heard of. Once they landed on the moon, they remained in their landing vehicle for several hours before disembarking onto the surface. During that time, Aldrin, a Presbyterian elder, observed Communion, then read from the book of John. The public broadcast was stopped for this. The whole thing was for the most part kept completely quiet by NASA.
Aldrin, in a 1970 copy of Guideposts magazine wrote: "I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements."
Why was the whole thing kept quiet? NASA was still trying to recover from being sued by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, a legitimately hate-filled Atheist, who caused a stir because the earlier Apollo 8 crew broadcast a reading from the book of Genesis on Christmas day in orbit. She believed that if the crew was on duty, that such religious activity was a violation of the separation of church and state- a completely ignorant understanding of that concept.
Aldrin later said that astronaut Deke Slayton, the man who ran the Apollo 11 flight crew operations, admonished him to tone things down. "Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general," he said. Aldrin later stated, "Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion. Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind – be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists."
Bill Whittle, of the new four-part podcast series Apollo 11 - What We Saw, suggests that this was the first apparent instance of American, self-censorship for fear of a social justice outrage. He said on a recent episode of the Michael Knowles Show, “That was the first time I can remember when Americans were told, ‘Don’t say what you really think, hide your core beliefs, do not do anything that might upset the lunatics…’”.
So, to get back to the original point, what resulted was a new pattern of social justice opposition against Christian things that may have started with an event on the moon that to students of the Bible was not very Christian or Biblical. I can’t speak to spiritual condition of Buzz Aldrin’s heart, but “sacraments” as he called them are viewed by the Presbyterian church as, well, sacramental. In other words, partaking of them allegedly imparts the grace of God for salvation. In the Mission Statement of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) it states, “Through the sacraments God seals believers in redemption, God renews our identity as God marks us for service. But participation is a corporate act rather than an act between an individual and God.” This is simply contrary to scripture (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6; et al.).
That last part may be why Aldrin sought and was granted permission by his church to observe Communion by himself on the moon. But more important is the first part of the statement which seems to suggest that many Presbyterians believe Communion provides some kind of security of ones salvation.
Yet in the same missions statement, they also try to claim that personal faith presupposes observing communion: “We believe that the sacrament of the Lord’s Table presupposes, deepens and assists personal faith… Our worthiness is found in putting our trust in God and, in faith, relying upon God’s mercy.”
How can someone believe such a mission statement and not be confused about how a person becomes genuinely saved or even know what saving faith is! The statement also mentions the baptism of infants, meaning they must apparently not believe that salvation is a personal decision of faith upon understanding the Gospel. It’s no wonder then that the Presbyterian church admits such a wide divergence of beliefs among its adherents. You can see their own evaluation of this, including statistics here.
Depending on what Aldrin believed about salvation according to the Bible, he may not have passed the truth tests of John’s first epistle (See my post on Scientifically Testing Salvation Claims here). Simply put, if someone believe erroneous things about salvation, he is not saved no matter what he calls himself. And this does not even address the Ecclesiological problems of a person observing the Lord’s Supper by himself apart from an assembly.
My point here is not to determine the spiritual condition of the famed astronaut. But, you see how it can be entirely possible that depending on what Aldrin believes, he may not be a genuine Christian, but rather a professing one. Without actually asking him or hearing more direct statements of his faith, it’s hard to know. Real or not, the result of those events 50 years ago beginning with Madalyn Murray O’Hair created a pattern of social justice outrage, and censorship for fear of public outrage. Real or not, Christian looking activities affect the true believers out there too when the activity comes under attack. The unregenerate can’t tell the difference between the false and true Christians any more than a fish can tell the difference between a real worm and a plastic one, so they bite at whatever resembles the values they hate.
I just often wonder what America would be like and how free we would be if it were simpler for the nation to identify the false from the true.
I suppose we’ll never know until we’re out of this world too.