Ray Rice has become famous for punching out his wife Janay in an elevator. Before any of this became media fodder, the couple shortly after the event, unbeknownst to the American public, became “born-again Christians.”
Now, man only knows outward appearances while God knows the heart, so we can only speculate whether the conversions are for real. While their motives to convert might not be as cynical as they would be if it were after the whole public reaction to the event, some of their recent behavior on the record has been questionable. However, Christians often times act according to their flesh, so this is not a smoking gun for anything either.
Nonetheless, the Rice’s could have anticipated this getting out and did this as a way to keep the NFL money flowing.
Though it is not entirely clear what church the couple belongs to, the player’s Aunt is a “Pastor” of a Fire Baptized Holiness Church (an Episcopal Pentecostal denomination). Now, to anyone well acquainted with Reformed Theology and the Doctrines of Grace, none of the following will be all that surprising. But, to some of you who are following this story and do not know too much about Christianity, the following is quite important in understanding why Rice’s church background is suspect.
- The denomination’s website speaks of people being baptized by the Holy Spirit by “appropriating faith.” This means someone is only saved if they want it bad enough and thereby appropriate the faith itself which God generally gives to all. Evidence of this faith is if someone “speaks in tongues.”
This is wrong on all sorts of levels. “God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Rom 12:3). Further, “it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29). Further again, “by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). Man does not appropriate for himself faith. Rather, God appropriates men for himself and gives to them the faith that saves.
Speaking in tongues (ecstatic, incomprehensible speaking) is not evidence of one’s salvation, as not every saved believer spoke in tongues. Many “Pentecostals” (a group that is under the pale of what is called “Christianity”) claim otherwise. St. Paul states that tongues are a spiritual gift and not every believer has it: “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit…and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12:8, 10). Further, “All do not speak with tongues, do they” (1 Cor 12:30)?
Lastly, typical in Pentecostal churches is that people speak in tongues, often interrupting one another, and no one translates the what anyone is saying. Again, the Scripture warns against this: “I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Cor 14:9). Further, “If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God” (1 Cor 14:27-28).
- The denomination does not teach the inerrancy of Scripture.
The Christian religion requires an understanding of Scripture identical to that of our Lord and Savior who said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Being that this denomination does not ascribe to the authority of Scripture, this means that what they teach lacks a foundation in which it can be analyzed and understood. In science, there is the scientific method. In philosophy, there are the rules of logic. In religion, there is the practice of theology. No good theology can be derived when it is approached in an inconsistent way. Without the authority of Scripture, the Christian religion lacks consistency, changes with the times, and therefore can make no claim to truth.
- The denomination does not uphold Biblical standards for church leadership.
Rice’s aunt is the Pastor of a New Rochelle congregation. However, the Scripture instructs, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Tim 2:11-12). Why does the Bible care whether a woman submits to a man? “I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3). To have it the other way would obscure the fact that God the Father is the head of Christ and that in effect the Son submits to the Father because as Christ says, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). Hence, to misunderstand this is to not know in its fullness the triune nature of God.
I hope that Ray Rice and his wife really did accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, for they just like any of us are sinners. We don’t just wrong one another, but by doing so we sin against God (Ps 51:4) and sinning against the infinite deserves an infinite punishment. However, God’s wrath justly reserved for men and women like us has been poured out on His Son so that, if we believe in His death and resurrection, we die to our sin and are resurrected with Him.
Ray Rice may not really understand this. But if he does, and he has the repentance to prove it, he has gained much more than what he can ever lose, even if it is a NFL career.