A needed wake up call for conservatives that have adopted statist propaganda in an attempt to lead away from progressive statism. The problem is when you adopt the same methodology as your enemy, you are acting like the enemy but in different garb (outwardly speaking). Or as Pastor Toby points out “black faced conservatism,” which is folly on its face.
American Vision ran an ad on Facebook for the republication of The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States. The ad went to a broader audience. Some historical crazies responded. Keep in mind that no one who had responded had read the 1000-page book that is filled with original source documentation. It’s easy to argue a case when you are ignorant and assume others are equally ignorant.
— Read on americanvision.org/posts/were-the-july-4th-and-1787-founders-deists/
Call me naive but early on in my Christian walk I assumed some things about the faith that I’d thought were “a given.” Over ten years ago, I was running a job for a commercial heating and cooling company out of Columbus, Ohio. I heard a man singing a hymn, approached him, and tried to strike up a conversation with what I assumed was another believer. Instead, I ran into the “You don’t look like me, don’t think exactly like I do, and so, ‘you must not be a Christian.’” An altogether uncomfortable but necessary learning experience. Especially, given the current cultural mosh pit that we are living in.
In what follows you will find, I suppose further clarification of what I had written about in a previous post entitled, War and Violence, Peace and Unity: What Do These Four Terms Have to Do With the Christian Worldview?. Not a very well read piece. I suppose that it may have something to do with the title. Christians get uncomfortable using certain words to describe the Christian faith and gospel of Christ on which it revolves. Meaning that terms like “war,” and “violence,” seem antithetical to what many well-intentioned, but nonetheless uninformed members of the Evangelical community identify with as a spirit filled Christianity. It is also possible that wasn’t well-written, in that case I apologize for not being clearer.
Syncretism plagued Israel during Elijah’s day. It most certainly has a strong foothold on those that claim membership in the Christian family today. My concern is that we need to tread carefully as we walk out our faith, and yet at the same time stand steadfastly upon a fixed standard. And I should add we ought be very cautious that the standard upon which we are steadfastly standing is in fact one that is worthy of our undying commitment. I think that is where the guy I mentioned earlier stumbled a bit.
Objectivity NOT Quick Observations…
Christians ought to be unified on Truth. All this talk nowadays about being peaceful and unified, essentially ignoring all differences, is not the type of “oneness” that I am speaking about. Our judgment needs to be firmly grounded in biblical truth not outward appearances. The one is an objective standard that does not waver on the seas or winds of life. Whereas, the other is highly subjective, differing from one degree to the next.
To be crystal clear here, a true believer is not dependent on what they look like on the outside, but on the inside. Because we are severely limited in our view of our human counterparts, we tend to err when we seek to determine the status of a person’s relationship with God. Like Samuel we might think someone is an appropriate picture of the Christian faith (a genuine believer in God), but a deeper look at the heart (intellect, will, and character) would reveal something else entirely (cf. 1Sam 16.7). This is something that we are ill-equipped to do. Even judging the fruits of some, as Jesus says we ought to do, requires a longer look at someone’s life than many care to give (cf. Matt 12.33).1
Therefore, it is not skin color, tattoos, piercings, hairstyles, clothing, height, weight, class (i.e., rich or poor, popular or unpopular), or any other number of observations we may apply to this person or that person, this group or that group that determines the faith of another. What determines it is where they stand in regards to the Truth of God’s Word. You may look differently than me, but if you stand firm with Jesus Christ, then we are on the same side. We may fall on different spectrum of the same truth, but we are still called members of God’s family.2
Where you stand…
What does it mean to stand with Christ? How does one stand on the Truth of God’s Word? Can I truly be said to be united with Christ, and adherent of the Truth of God’s Word, if I give voice to those things that the Lord declares an abomination? If the Holy Spirit warns us against the types of unions we become involved in (cf. 2Cor 6.14-15), challenging us to think through our intimate associations (not limited to marital unions), then how can we give approval to blatant sins? We should not. We cannot. For to stand with Christ and His Word means that we must stand against all opposition to His Namesake:
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2Cor 10.5; ESV).
2Corinthians 10:5; ESV
However, in order to take such a stand, in order to attempt to bring all thoughts captive under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we must be willing to stand on His Word. And how can we be considered wise in our standing, if we do not know the Rock upon which our feet ought to be firmly planted? Moreover, how do we prove that our feet are firmly planted on this Rock and not on shifting sand, if we refuse to submissively obey?
Exercises of Faith…
Faith is not a work of man, but it is a work of God’s grace! For faith that is without good works—acts of humble obedience to our Lord and Savior—is truly a false faith. Do you not know that it is what you do that reveals what you are?
How then can you say that the murdering of unborn infants in the womb is a right that needs to be afforded? Who gave you the sovereignty to determine when to end a life or when it was good to sanction its coming into the world?
How then can you say rather than focusing on the blood of Christ that redeems lost sinners from every tribe and nation and language upon this earth that we must maintain our outward distinctions? Who gave you the sovereignty to determine the worthiness of white vs. black?3
How then can you say that marriage is defined by cultural consensus (male and male, female and female), rather than by our Creator’s edict (male and female, woman for the man)? Or, that male and female is a distinction defined by feelings rather than God-given scientific, observable characteristics? Who gave you the sovereignty to determine what constitutes a good marriage and a genuine gender?
How can you say that governmental theft of personal property is a good thing as long as you or some other that you feel strongly about is the recipient of the funds? Who gave you sovereignty over the labors and wealth of your fellow man?
How can you call for peace and unity, when such things are at war with the one you profess as Lord and Savior? Who are you showing your faith in when you support things that violently oppose the Truth of God’s Word? If we are genuine in our faith, then our faith needs to be engaged at a level beyond the surface of our skin. Christians may not look alike in the immediate sense, but we ought to look alike from a distance.
1To judge a fruit (a work) of another requires more than a quick fly-by, so to speak. Careful observation takes time. And so, in order to properly discern the type of fruit a man produces requires you be involved in their life for longer than a day. We all fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3.23). Thus, one day might bring some bad fruit on our trees that need repentance. A true believer will do this, but not so for those who offer a false profession of faith. It is the longevity of the tree and the overall fruit that it produces that provides a clearer picture of who we ought to mark as needing avoided.
2One biblical example given to us to help guide us through the quagmire of personal intuitiveness is Paul’s discussion on eating meat or vegetables in Romans 14. All food is declared good to eat, but we are to give some lead way with one another in our preferences of the types of food we will eat.
3Ray Sutton writes, “All racists are the same. They believe their race or even their nation is special because of its ethnic distinction…This inevitably leads to war, because impure races have to be destroyed. They are a threat to the pure race.” That You May Prosper: Dominion by Covenant (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984), 94, PDF e-book.
Since I was little I have been a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s writings. As a kid I only had access to “The Hobbit,” but when I was in my early twenties I purchased the three volume set entitled “The Lord of the Rings.” Within Tolkien’s writing there are quite a bit of hidden nuggets of truth inserted from a biblical worldview. One clear line of thought that Tolkien grasped that our Post-Modern society would do well to consider, believe and cling to is that governmental powers can be exceedingly evil, because they are being led by evil persons. One of my favorite lines from the Two Towers is a discussion between Theoden king of Rohan and Aragorn rightful king of Gondor on the prospect of joining the war with Sauron, lord of the Dark Tower…the one who wanted to enslave and dominate all creation to his twisted will:
Theoden: I will not risk open war.
Aragorn: Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.1
A Call for Peace and Unity...
In my last post I noted that here in the United States there is a clarion call for peace by many political leaders, media pundits, celebrities and Evangelical Christians2. Take for example popular Pastor Tony Evans statement that he made after signing a call for peace in November of last year:
Citing Psalm 89:14, which speaks of the “righteousness and justice” as the foundation of God’s throne, Evans then said,
Let us just say for the moment that I agree with Pastor Evans statement. When a nation has a mind after God’s thoughts (here in terms of righteousness and justice), then that nation will be strong, it will have peace, and it will stand. But when the opposite is the case “peace will not exist.” But what is the underlying assumption being made? That those things exist to some degree in a nation that murders her offspring, robs from her citizens, calls it blasphemy when one dares condemn what God labels an abomination! How’s that possible?
Let’s take a step back for a moment and consider the following terms: war and peace, violence and unity. Which are biblical terms that should be associated with the Christian worldview? Is it ever righteous for a Christian to pursue war and violence, rather than peace and unity? Or, is it the Christian message (i.e., the gospel message) that requires we must always choose peace and unity?
The way some Christian leaders’ talk, I would think that their overarching assumption is that “peace and unity” is always preferable. Now I can understand why the world will cite Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
Matthew 5:9; ESV throughout
But I struggle deeply within myself when I hear Christians spout platitudes of peace. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the desire. No one likes conflict. We prefer to live our lives in the shadow of relative ease and comfort. In this way we are akin to the hobbits in the Shire who prefer to eat, drink and be merry without a thought to what is going on in the world around them. Current president of the SBC, J. D. Greer appears to unknowingly reflect this mindset in a blog post he wrote last September entitled, “When Peace and Unity Seem Impossible.”
After noting that we may share different cultural and political perspectives he then says we should,
As a closer, he then opines,
Peace and Unity on what Grounds?…
Noble pursuits I agree, but to what end? More importantly peace and unity based on what? Oh…to be like Jesus…. Because Jesus was always about peace and unity, right? Peace and unity based on what grounds? Peace and unity with who?
Jesus of Nazareth bears many titles that demonstrate the greatness of His Name. One of those titles is “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9.6). But what does the title mean? One thing that it does mean is that He gives His own, peace (cf. John 14.27; 16.33; Luke 24.36).
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Likewise, Jesus calls for unity or oneness as seen in John 17:11, 21, 22. But the question that must be answered is “On what grounds?” Obviously, peace and unity are to be desired if possible, but what is it that makes them a reality?
I just want to add at this point that the world loves it when Christian’s speak of these things in a very general, vague way. That way no commitment is being illustrated. No “Right” way of thinking is being demanded. I’m not sure if this type of mindset is to be blamed on the Evangelical’s ignorance of the Old Testament canon or a plain on laziness on their part. For the fact remains that you cannot have peace without first waging war, and you cannot have unity without an established standard of Truth. This is why it is laughable when varying Christian leaders offer these sweet sounding words of “peace and unity” in a bouquet of decaying flowers. Meant to sound sweet to the masses, but rotten to the core in light of truth.
“That’s a pretty bold claim,” you say “saying there can be no peace without war. Can you prove it?” Yes, I believe so. Rather easily, I might add, but first you need to understand that war and violence, like peace and unity are key component of the Christian worldview.
Knowing the Season…
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8
According to Scripture there is a season for everything, including peace and war. One must know the conditions of the season in question, before they can discern which is the appropriate course of action. Since the Fall, in the beginning, creation has been at war. Violence, then has been necessary since the beginning.
“I will put enmity [i.e., hostility] between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
This the Creator promised the crafty beast of the field, the serpent. With violence against God and His image bearer did he (the serpent) enter the garden, and from that day forward war and violence would follow. Thus we read in the Psalms from the prophet David,
“Blessed by the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.”
It is the Lord our God who trains us for war, who teaches us to wage violence in battle against our enemy (enemies). With such knowledge at our fingertips we should not be surprised to read that God, after giving Joshua great victory over his enemies in the land of Canaan, left a remnant in the land to teach the next generation what it was to fight:
“Now these are the nations that the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before.”
Answers the Critic: “But that was in the Old Testament. That language is archaic. That was a different covenant era. Things are different now under Christ Jesus. God’s people are no longer called to wage war, to exercise violence, but to strive for peace and unity with all creation.”
My response: “Really, where then is this new charge dear son or daughter of man given to us in God’s Word, that I might apply it?”
No the fact is that our own Lord not only demonstrated that we are to, at times, wage war and be violent with forces of evil. Jesus corrects the worldview of His hearers when He unashamedly declares,
“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Luke 12:49-53; also see Matthew 10:34-36
What sort of fire is He speaking about? What baptism is He talking about? Jesus had ready the winnowing fork in His hands, so says the prophet John the Baptist (cf. Matt 3.10-12), to separate from each household those that serve God and those that serve the creature. This is the fire that Jesus brought to the earth, a fire of division, a fire of winnowing, a fire of judgment against those who refused to bow the knee to the rightful King over all. In order to finalize this, He waged a battle with Satan where the beast of the field, the serpent of old, struck a death blow at the Lord’s heel, but when the cross was driven into the ground it was there that the enemy’s skull was crushed (Matt 27.33; Mark 15.22; Luke 23.33; John 19.17; also see Psa 7.16). This is the death (baptism) that Jesus was baptized with, striking the final blow against that murder and liar from the beginning (John 8.44).
It is for this cause that we too continue the work of waging war, of extricating violence against all who stand opposed to the Truth of God:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when you obedience is complete.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-6
I thought it wise at this point to add this little caveat to the reader unless they assume that my rhetoric was calling for physical attacks against the enemies of Christ. The main difference between us and Israel, as they entered into Canaan, was that they were waging war as God’s sword. In this they played the role of the minister of God who does not bear the sword in vain (Rom 13.4). For this reason it was a just war, but the same could not be said of us who bear the Name of Christ. There are moments in life when an act of war or an act of violence are called for; one in particular falls under the heading “self-defense.” But, the Christian mandate is to wage war and violence against sin and an ungodly worldview not to personally attack someone just because they are servants of another.
Furthermore, I think that Christians, leaders or otherwise, that make the claim that Jesus was all about unity and peace and not about offending someone for believing something not based on the Truth of God’s Word have not done an adequate job of reading their Bible’s. Jesus purposefully stood in opposition to those who abused, changed, or thwarted the Word of God. One moment in particular comes to mind when I entertain a discussion on this subject matter with another.
Offering Necessary Offenses…
In Luke 11:37-54 you have Jesus invited to a Pharisees house to dine. In verse 38 we are told that the “Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not wash first before dinner.” This was not a thing about hygiene, but a law kept by those in Israel lest they become ceremonially unclean. The fear was that a person might come in contact with someone or something that might make them unclean and so they washed as a ceremonial ritual to prevent uncleanliness (i.e., impurity or unholiness) before the Lord God.
My experience at this point is that people just focus on the rebuke Jesus offers (see vv. 39-44). But what they should consider is Jesus’ knowledge of the facts before He comes to eat at the Pharisee’s house. He knew their customs and He ignored them. He refused to play along. In a sense He waged war on their traditions and violently opposed them.
I once had a fellow in church tell me, “You should never do anything to offend another…for to do so is a sin.” “Is Jesus a sinner?” I asked. The man was dumbfounded. I then explained this little passage as one of many examples of our Lord purposely causing offense in light of the Truth of God’s Word.
Pastor Evans and the slew of others that joined in the signing of some silly peace accord back in November of last year (it may have been earlier); along with other Evangelical leaders attacking and blaming Trump for what happened in Washington D. C. on January 6th are sorely confused individuals. I would add J. D. Greer to this confused state as well.
Peace and unity are only possible when both sides have an agreed upon standard of truth. Peace and unity are only possible when one side agrees to lay down their weapons of warfare. There is great unrest in this nation and people want some semblance of calm to return, even if it is a false veneer. I get it. But, I also understand that applying the hobbit’s worldview to a world filled with sin, to a nation that bathes in it religiously, is absurdly ignorant.
Peace comes when…
“True peace comes only when those who say Jesus isn’t necessary come to understand that they need Him, when they’re willing to say, ‘Blessed is the one coming in the name of the Lord.’”8
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but peace that is only accomplished when you bow the knee to His gospel call—“Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” It is peace offered between God and man, not the offspring of the serpent (who is Satan and his people) and the offspring of the woman (who is Christ and his people).
“For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
To argue and to work for peace on any other grounds is to stand in opposition to the One you profess to represent.
2Some of these calls for peace and unity came before the election results were tallied and others came after what happened on January 6, 2021 at the nation’s capital. Various leaders pointed to Jesus and His gospel and that which is contained within the Word of God (Holy Bible) to challenge voters on both sides of the aisle to move towards peace, healing, and unification. Here are just a few articles to establish my point: