The spiritual condition of America, politics, culture, and current events, analyzed through the lens of scripture.
Welcome to the Alex McFarland Show. In January of 1961, when newly elected president John F. Kennedy was being inaugurated in his inaugural speech, he included these words. He said, the rights of man come not from government, far from it, but from the hand of God.
The role of government is not to give rights, but to guard the rights that every human being has, rights given from the hand of God. Well, welcome to the program, Alex McFarland here. We have a very special edition of the program today and a very honored guest that we'll introduce in a moment. But we're going to be talking about, among other things, the subject of religious liberty, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, things that if you are not aware, we will make you aware, they are under attack.
They're at risk. And there's a brand new documentary that I would urge you to watch called Intolerant. And we'll talk about what that is. Our guest, Dr. Robert Passienza, he's the president and CEO of D. James Kennedy Ministries. He is the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, one of America's great churches. And first of all, Dr. Passienza, I want to say thank you for being with us on the program today and making time to talk about this very important subject, religious liberty. But for your time today, thank you.
Thank you, Alex, for having me on and for making your audience aware of this new feature. Tell us about Coral Ridge Presbyterian, James Kennedy, whom you knew, because this is really James Kennedy. That's a name that I want future generations to know of and remember.
And I know it's not past tense, it's present tense and future. But tell us about Coral Ridge Church, the ministry and legacy of James Kennedy and your role in these things. D. James Kennedy founded Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1960. He started with 14 people and he casted a vision for them one Sunday evening in the summer. And he said, together we can change the world.
Those 14 people looked at each other as if he were crazy. But God did just that through them. He used 14 ordinary men and women to come together to catch a vision for how they could take the gospel and reach the nations. Out of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church was started a nationally televised program every week, Evangelism Explosion, a lay training program that would reach every nation in the world with a life-saving message of the gospel, a Christian grade school, a seminary, and other initiatives as well. It was the fastest growing church in North America in the 1960s. And I think what made the church so special as many churches were in decline in the 1960s, particularly in mainstream Protestantism, D. James Kennedy and Coral Ridge really went against the grain.
And because they were preaching the gospel and they were mobilizing their people to go out and witness to their neighbors and to their friends and to proclaim the gospel as not only a private truth, but a public truth that affects government and politics and voting and marriage and family and what we call the cultural mandate, it really set apart Coral Ridge from the rest. And God blessed the faithfulness of Coral Ridge and the faithfulness of D. James Kennedy. I had the privilege of coming to faith under D. James Kennedy as a teenager in 1994, and he became my mentor and spiritual father. He gave me a passion for the great commission, for the cultural mandate, for apologetics, how to defend my faith when I went on off to college and went into the world. And it is my incredible and humble privilege to now serve as senior pastor of the church he founded and now as the leader of the media ministry that was started nearly 50 years ago.
That's wonderful. Well, you know, Rob, I'm very honored to be talking with you because in the 1980s, that was a very pivotal time, a little of the reason that my heart so resonates with you and your work with D. James Kennedy Ministries. I grew up on a farm and by the 1980s, we were in severe financial trouble. My mother and dad had each made a profession of faith when they were teenagers, but in the 1980s, they were in their early 60s. Life at our house was not fun.
Financial struggles and my parents were fighting. And anyway, I went away to college, but my mother and dad, I was home and they had recommitted their lives to the Lord, but they really got discipled watching D. James Kennedy Ministries. And I remember just like every weekend when I would be home, they would have a VHS tape. This is back in the 80s folks, a long time ago, but they were getting VHS tapes.
I still have some of these. And I saw my mom and dad really in a matter of a couple of years, their level of discipleship just went like vertical. And a huge, huge part of that was watching James Kennedy. And my dad was always saying, you've got to watch this tape, son.
This is really great. And I found the Lord at age 21 through a Bible study. And then I was immersed in apologetics and biblical worldview. But Dr. Passienza, I want to say this in gratitude to your predecessor, my mother and dad, they became champions for truth in their 60s.
And then my father died in 07 and my mother in 2014, but they got the fire. And I cannot overstate the influence James Kennedy had in their lives beginning in their 60s. And it was my privilege at conventions and conferences. Many times I met James Kennedy, shook his hand. I never got to book him into one of our conferences.
We do biblical worldview conferences all over America called Truth for a New Generation. And I remember I interviewed him shortly before he passed and he was so gracious. And he said, I would love to speak at one of your conferences, but I just can't, my health prevents me from traveling. But my point in this is the impact of Dr. Kennedy and others on his staff, like your colleague, Dr. Jerry Newcomb, who's a close personal friend, and now you doing all you're doing. He said it right.
Coral Ridge would change the world. They have, and they are, and my family are among those that were touched by his incredible life and ministry. Alex, I appreciate you saying that. Anywhere I travel, not only across the nation, but anywhere in the world, it's amazing how many people I run into and they remember a man standing in the pulpit, watching him on television or hearing him on the radio or reading one of his books. And they usually say the same thing. He's the first pastor I heard talk about God's truth as a public truth. As you just said, to think about all of life through the lens of God's infallible word, what you and I would call a biblical world and life view. I mean, and that's what made his ministry so special, but I think also so timeless. And the things I now go back and listen to him that he said in the eighties and nineties and now see them come to fruition.
And unfortunately, many Christians roll their eyes or ignored it or just didn't think it was that big of a deal. And some of the things he warned the next generation are certainly happening, particularly right here in North America. Indeed. Well, we've got a brief break, folks. Stay tuned. We're going to come back with Dr. Robert Passienza. We'll talk about religious liberty and their wonderful documentary that I urge you to watch called Intolerant and how each of us can be informed and be equipped to make a difference, a positive difference. Stay tuned. Alex McFarland and the Truth for New Generation broadcast will be back after this. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this.
Do you have a desire to deepen your faith, better understand Christian apologetics or to get a biblical perspective on current events? Well, I've tried to make it simple for you to do just that. On my website, alexmcfarland.com, there's a new section called Ask Alex Online. It's simple, it's clean, and you can read my answers to common questions about God, faith and the Bible. So visit the website alexmcfarland.com and look for the section that says Ask Alex Online. Christian author and speaker Alex McFarland is an advocate for Christian apologetics. Working in more than 2,200 churches around the world, schools and college campuses, Alex is driven by a desire to help people grow in relationship with God. He arms his audiences with the tools they need to defend their faith while also empowering the unchurched to find out the truth for themselves. In the midst of a culture obsessed with relativism, Alex is a sound voice who speaks timeless truths of Christianity in a timely way. With 18 published books to his name, it's no surprise that CNN, Fox, the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets have described Alex as a religion and culture expert. To learn more about Alex and to book him as a speaker at your next event, visit alexmcfarland.com or you can contact us directly by emailing booking at alexmcfarland.com.
He's been called trusted, truthful and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program.
Thank you for listening. By the way, you can find out my travel schedule and all that we're doing at alexmcfarland.com. Our youth clubs, our biblical worldview clubs in schools and neighborhoods, Viral Truth. Folks, as I record this, we're in the midst of six summer youth camps. We'll be in front of 1250 teenagers by the time summer of 23 is over. We just finished our first of six youth camps. We had almost three dozen young people pray to accept Christ as their personal savior. We had 130 teenagers come to an altar and commit to pray for America, and they're going back to their neighborhoods.
They're starting clubs. They're called Viral Truth, Truth Gone Viral. Folks, we appreciate your prayers and your support.
You can go to viraltruth.com. You can support us financially. You can give securely at alexmcfarland.com. Please know we are committed to reach this generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be used by God to transform our culture and in the process preserve our constitutionally protected religious liberties, which are at risk. I thank you for your prayers and support. I urge you, as God leads, to please stand with us. Well, someone who is valiantly, fruitfully standing for truth is Dr. Robert Passienza. He's the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, really one of the great churches in the western hemisphere. I kid you not. I've been there.
It's wonderful. And he's the president of D. James Kennedy Ministries. Dr. Passienza, before we go too much farther, I want you to give your website or websites that you would love to refer us to, and tell us about Intolerant and where people can see it.
Yeah, thank you, Alex. Our church website is crpc.org, so I'd love to, if there's anybody in your audience that's ever in the Fort Lauderdale area, love for them to join us for worship on Sunday. That's crpc.org. They can find out more about the church and our service programs. Our media ministry's website is djameskennedy.org, djameskennedy.org. And one of the things you'll see there is what we're talking about today, our new documentary called Intolerant, the War on Religious Liberty.
And at that website, you can find out where that will air on our television program, which is nationally syndicated, Truths to Transform, or there's a longer version of Intolerant DVD version, which is about 84 minutes long and contains much more material, and you can order a DVD as well. But that's djameskennedy.org, where you can find out more information about our media ministry, but also our new documentary, Intolerant, the War on Religious Liberty. Help us understand, for the person who's maybe really not convinced that our freedom of speech, freedom of expression, religious liberties are at risk.
Help us understand how serious this is and really how far adrift we are as a nation in regard to this. Well, yeah, one of the things that we expose in the documentary is exactly how religious liberty is under attack. And we really start at the beginning, the founding of our nation that the founders of our nation never envisioned, and we have proof, this is not opinion, this is fact, that our founders never envisioned a secular state. They understood, you can read this all throughout our founding documents and historical records, that they understood that our rights come from God, that this was their basis for everything.
We obviously do not believe that every founder was an evangelical Christian, but it is absolute fact that the Judeo-Christian worldview was the primary worldview that influenced the founders as they crafted our founding documents and they established our government. And understanding that all rights and all liberties ultimately come from God, they understood that the first liberty was religious liberty. Now, they understood that a society cannot flourish unless there is a religiously plural public square, that you take away the rights and freedoms that ultimately come from God and it can only lead to anarchy or tyranny or chaos. And what we're seeing today is religious liberty under attack like never before. And it's all put under the guise of tolerance. And so, we hear in our secular universities, we hear on the mainstream media or on social media, even in the halls of government that we need to be tolerant of everyone. Well, what that really means is we need to be tolerant of everyone except for those that hold a biblical world and life view and hold to traditional biblical Christian values such as marriage and gender and sexuality. And they go a step further and say, if you do hold to those views of biblical Orthodox Christianity, you're either declared hateful or you're canceled and certainly worthy of suppression. Or phobic.
Exactly. And so, really this new tolerance we're exposing in this documentary is nothing more than a code word for intolerance of anyone who holds a biblical world and life view and holds to Christianity as their system of faith, which informs all of their social and moral positions in life. You know, Dr. Passianzi, yesterday I met with a United Methodist pastor here in North Carolina, one of the largest Methodist churches in my home state of North Carolina. And he reached out to me.
We'd never met before. But he wanted to, well, I think a little bit, just have a place to vent and get a little bit of feedback. But he said exactly what you're saying, that there's this hyper, hyper ubiquitous tolerance, except those who don't think that we should tolerate anything or everything. It's like all truth claims are equally valid, except the claim that not all statements are equally valid.
Let's just try to get to the base. Our culture, is it fair to say, Dr. Passianzi, that our culture is in a battle over whether or not truth exists? One hundred percent. And the reality is everyone, being men of the book, being men of the Word of God, we believe that it's not so much that they deny the truth, but they know the truth. But as Paul says in Romans 1, they suppress it.
They ignore the truth, but they know deep down inside there is such thing as truth. We all live our lives according to a set of values and morals. It's the basis for all of our laws. We understand the difference between good and evil and right and wrong. The question is, we ignore who is the author of truth in our sin and in our unrighteousness. And because we live in a highly secularized culture, the cultural elites, those that are leading our universities and big tech and the corporations such as Target and Bud Light and those that are in charge of the mainstream media are doing everything possible to convince generation after generation that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Therefore, there's no such thing as an absolute being. And really, it's just a farce and it's just their attempt of trying to attack or suppress or silence or cancel anyone that claims to have an absolute set of morals or values.
But as I said before, our founders understood that you deny an absolute being, then you deny absolute morals, you deny absolute morals, and then you have no basis for a liberty or the freedoms that we've enjoyed for nearly 250 years. But certainly, the church and Christianity and absolute truth is certainly under attack like never before. Folks, we've got a brief break.
Stay tuned because we're going to come back. Some powerful content from Dr. Rob Passienza of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and D. James Kennedy Ministries. I urge you to check out their documentary. Look, everything they do is excellent. We have watched and shown and promoted their videos and documentaries, Intolerant, The War on Religious Liberty. We'll talk about this further when we come back.
Stay tuned. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. Over the last several decades, it's been my joy to travel the world talking with children, teens, adults, people of all ages about the questions they have related to God, the Bible, Christianity, and how to know Jesus personally.
Hi, Alex McFarland. I want to make you aware of my book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity. You know, we interviewed hundreds of children and parents and families to find out the questions that children and people of all ages are longing to find answers for. In the book, we've got practical, biblical, real-life answers that they have about how to be a Christian in this modern world.
My book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask, you can find it wherever you buy books or at resources.afa.net. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program. Alex McFarland here interviewing a colleague and new friend in the work, Dr. Robert Passienza, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.
By the way, if I am correct here, pastor, the church's website, CRPC.org, as in Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.org, and then DJamesKennedy.org is where people can learn more about his ongoing ministries and the intolerant documentaries. Is that right? That is absolutely correct. In the previous segment, you were talking about the fact that the founders could not have envisioned a militantly secular state.
And I completely agree. An author that I would love to make people aware of is Dr. Larry Schweikert that we've interviewed before at the University of Ohio at Dayton. And he's written a number of good books, but Dr. Larry Schweikert wrote a book called A Patriot's Guide to American History. And there's a quote in there that I've used, and I teach a course on the philosophical foundations of the U.S. Constitution. Dr. Schweikert says that the founders would never have envisioned an America where God was not at the center of the community, because the oath of honesty that elected officials take, you know, defend the Constitution, or even in a courtroom, someone testifying, so help me God. Here's what Schweikert says, that if a person does not acknowledge that they are accountable to God and they one day will answer for every idle word, if someone will not acknowledge their accountability to God, then they're not going to acknowledge their accountability to their fellow man. And so for the founders, says Larry Schweikert and others like James Kennedy, and you and I would agree, we know that one's view of truth, one's view of honesty, one's view of conviction and commitment, all of this is directly tied to what we believe about God and our accountability to God. Would you agree?
A hundred percent. It's undeniable that the founders understood and you studying philosophy can attest to this, that you can't have a common liberty and common freedoms without a common morality. And you can't have a common morality without a common belief in God. So a purely secular state, as I said before, can only result in chaos. The only way you can have flourishing is by having a common belief in God, acknowledging an absolute being as our founders did. They understood that these are inalienable rights that God has given to all of humanity. And we are certainly seeing the fatal fruits of a secular state and the weaponization of the government against anyone who holds to traditional biblical Judeo-Christian views of the world and of things that we have held sacred in this nation for nearly 250 years.
It certainly is the new tolerance, which is nothing short of intolerance. You know, Dr. Passians, I feel like you and I are very privileged because, not name dropping here, but I met Dr. Kennedy. You knew him well.
I knew very well, it was a close personal friend Chuck Colson. And I worked for a total of eight years for James Dobson. And I knew Jerry Falwell, spoke at Thomas Rhodes, spoke at Liberty. There were, in the late seventies, a number of people God raised up. Your predecessor, James Kennedy, Phyllis Schlafly, quite a number of people, Chuck Colson. It is interesting, when I went to work for James Dobson 19 years ago, my pastor at that time kind of said to me, he said, oh my goodness, Alex, James Dobson, he's radical. Dr. Dobson said to me a couple of years ago, we were talking about, I said, you knew Adrian Rogers, Jerry Falwell, Chuck Colson, Bill Bright, what you and I might call the culture warriors, Don Wildman. Dr. Dobson said, Alex, if we could go back to the early eighties, when we were talking about the rise of Marxism, the rise of secularism, the breakdown of the family, the LGBTQ trans movements that would work to silence the church, Dr. Dobson said, if anything, we understated the threats. Do you think James Kennedy, if he were here with us today, would he agree that even as articulately and as forcefully as those men and women, they sounded the trumpet, that the threats of darkness and it's Satan, you and I know it's Satan suppressing light to jeopardize the souls of people. If anything, the battle was looming more dangerously than maybe even they realized. Would you agree?
100%. I can't imagine that that generation ever envisioned a nation or a culture where LGBTQ rights would be exalted over religious rights. And parental rights. And parental rights where critical race theory would be put into the curriculum in our public school systems, where cultural Marxism would be something that's celebrated instead of something that is put down or kind of cast to the side as a failed system of thought, where you would have police officers that are forced to resign because they simply share their Christian beliefs in private and some civil authority found their social media account. I mean, the list can go on and on where the Department of Justice is being weaponized against men and women who stand for life and the sanctity of marriage and family. No, I mean, the list goes on and on. I just can't imagine they envisioned America where these things would be.
They certainly warned against it, but to actually see it play itself out as it has, especially in the last three or four years in our country, I don't think they ever thought it would get as bad as it has. Indeed. Would you give us a homework assignment? Dr. Robert Passienza of Coral Ridge Pres James Kennedy Ministries telling us about this documentary that I urge you to watch, folks.
Intolerant. In the couple of minutes we have left, for the average citizen, Rob, who says, I get it. I'm concerned for my country. What would you have us do? Give us a call to action, please.
Absolutely. Sometimes, you know, we in the church or the leaders in media or the church or Christian nonprofits, we can tend to preach to the choir. And I would encourage everyone listening to not only watch the documentary, which you can find at djameskennedy.org, either the shorter version or the longer version, but pass this along to a family or friend. Maybe pass it along to a friend that might be apathetic or really ignorant to what's truly happening in our cultural moment.
And then I think lastly, I have a heart. I'm a young pastor, young leader, father of two children, and I am unapologetic about our commitment to contend for the next generation, for their hearts and minds and their souls. And so I would say to any grandparent or parent listening, you need to watch this, absorb this, and really pass these things along. We're going to get a lot of application in this documentary of what you can do as an American citizen, but most importantly, as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. And one of the calls to action is making sure that you really are speaking truth to this next generation, as I know you are, Alex, that we're preparing them to go off to college and sent out into this world as missionaries with the mind of Christ to know what they're going up against. So for me, this documentary is really for the next generation. And so I hope every grandparent, parent, or anybody who cares about the next generation of kingdom citizens takes this information seriously and really speaks truth into action to what's happening for the souls of those that are being raised up in the church and being sent out into the world. You know, we're almost out of time.
I hope you and I may visit again soon. I'm reminded of the words of George Washington, folks. Once he had been sworn in as our first president, he said, and I quote, the sacred fire of liberty has been entrusted to the American people. Folks, freedom, liberty, religious liberty, it's just not an automatic guarantee in every generation. It must be valued.
It must be cared for. And yes, even defended through your prayers, through your influence, through your voice, through your votes, through your stance as a Christian and a citizen, you can contribute to the defense and the preservation of our liberties. And dear friend, you must. So I want to thank our guest, Dr. Robert Passienza, just how we praise God for the ongoing legacy of James Kennedy and the present and future work that the church and Coral Ridge is doing. Again, the documentary, Intolerant, I urge you to watch it, and I urge you to stand strong for truth. Thank you for your prayers, support, participation, folks, and together, for the glory of God, let's save a nation. Alex McFarland Ministries are made possible through the prayers and financial support of partners like you. For over 20 years, this ministry has been bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ and has been equipping people to stand strong for truth. Learn more and donate securely online at alexmcfarland.com. You may also reach us at Alex McFarland, P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404, or by calling 1-877-YES-GOD-1. That's 1-877-YES-GOD-1. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again on the next edition of The Alex McFarland Show.
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