Christianity is the Only Source of Political Liberty

Christianity is the Only Source of Political Liberty

This is an assertion that many Christians, let alone secularists, will vehemently disagree with. Those who disagree, however, need to bone up on their history of Christian Western civilization. Christian England is the only place on earth where the concept of the rule of law developed that could hold a ruler of the nation accountable. Prior to that, whatever the sovereign declared was law. It isn’t a difficult case to make that the only reason liberty exists at all in the world is because of Christianity. Without Christianity all we are left with is either the will to power and tyranny, or anarchy. When societies end up falling into the latter, people would much rather the tyranny; at least it’s predictable.

This is the dynamic in which we find ourselves as we begin the new year of 2024. It will either be anarchy leading the tyranny, or liberty. It’s one or the other. The only way to liberty is through Christ, so I’ll put my money on liberty. But to do this, we need to disabuse a very lot of people of the notion that the rule of Christianity in a nation is inherently tyrannical. They deride the concept with the epithet “theocracy,” as if the rule of God over a society, what the word means, is a bad thing. It most certainly is not! Of course, that all depends on what we mean by theocracy. I address all this in my upcoming book, and I look forward to seeing what people who disagree with me make of my argument. Hopefully, they’ll agree with me after they read it.

The Necessary Idea of Sphere Sovereignty
I’ve recently become aware of Willem Ouweneel, a Dutch scholar and prolific author. I’m currently reading his book; The World is Christ’s: A Critique of Two Kingdoms Theology. He argues that a Christian worldview requires the autonomy of certain societal relationship, like churches (synagogues, mosques, temples), marriages, families, schools, associations, businesses, political parties, etc. He states, “each is relatively autonomous within its own boundaries, and should be free from interference from either the state or the church.” By contrast, “The state has the responsibility to administer public justice.” That’s all. Needless to say, the state as conceived in the modern world per liberalism and much of what calls itself conservative, known as “the post WWII consensus,” is deeply unbiblical. What liberalism has done inspired by the secularism that created it, is claim that Christianity at the societal level is inherently tyrannical. The claim is spurious and easily refuted by Scripture and history, but the distortion runs deep. Here is the way Ouweneel counters it:

The notion of a Christian state does not imply that Christian authorities enforce Christian values upon its citizens, but that they administer public justice in a Christian way. The notion of a Christian school does not imply that Christian teachers force Christian values down their pupil’s throat, but that they teach and educate according to Christian principles.

The tyranny claim is a perfect example of projection, normally associated with leftists. Liberals (secular or religious, left or right) believe the state is the ultimate sovereign, and that the state can force people to do things ostensibly for their own good. R.J. Rushdoony explains why theocracy is so often misunderstood:

Theocracy is falsely assumed to be a take-over of government, imposing biblical law on an unwilling society. This presupposes statism which is the opposite of theocracy. Because modern people only understand power as government, they assume that’s what we want.

In the Christian view, by contrast, the state has an extremely limited role, and the people within the spheres of sovereignty, like churches and families, are completely free from state intrusion except for public justice. If laws are broken, the state is responsible to adjudicate it.

The concept of sphere sovereignty is critical in the never-ending battle against the spirit of Babel, which is another word for the tyrannical centralizing state. The concept is as simple as it is contested by those who embrace that centralizing spirit. It was first introduced by the great Dutch theologian, statesman, and journalist Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) in a public address at the inauguration of the Free University of Amsterdam. The question comes down to authority and who wields it. Absolute sovereign authority rests in God alone, and He has delegated His authority on earth to human beings:

so that on earth one actually does not meet God Himself in things visible, but that sovereign authority is always exercised through an office held by men.

In this he asks two pertinent questions:

And in that assigning of God’s Sovereignty to an office held by man the extremely important question arises: how does that delegation of authority work? Is that all embracing Sovereignty of God delegated undivided to one single man; or does an earthly Sovereign possess the power to compel obedience only in a limited circle; a circle bordered by other circles in which another is Sovereign?

These spheres interact and overlap in society, but one sphere must never usurp the authority of the other. The only way this possibly works, and thus the only possibility of true liberty in any society, is the acknowledgement of the absolute Sovereignty of Christ. Kuyper explains why:

But behold now the glorious Freedom idea! That perfect and absolute Sovereignty of the sinless Messiah at the same time contains the direct denial and challenge of all absolute Sovereignty on earth in sinful man; because of the division of life into spheres, each with its own Sovereignty.

Stephen Wolfe in his book The Case for Christian Nationalism explains it well:

[I]t follows that every sphere of life requires a suitable authority, with a suitable power, to make determinations. For this reason, God has granted specific types of power by which the authorities of each sphere make judgments. The family has the pater familiar with patria potestas (“fatherly power”); civil life has the civil magistrate with civil power; the instituted church has the minister with spiritual power, and the individual has a power unto himself. The nature of each sphere dictates the species of power required. These powers and their differences are not arbitrary but arise from the nature of each sphere.

It is only when those in power acknowledge the power of God in Christ as the ultimate authority that the state will recognize its limits. This is the message the secularists (again, be they religious or not) need to be taught. The case, to me, doesn’t appear that hard to make.

Secularism and the Myth of Neutrality
The biggest enemy of liberty in our time is the myth of neutrality driven by secularism. Initially it was a response to the Wars of Religion in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Religion, specifically Christianity, was seen to have dangerous tendencies to promote violence, so in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment thinkers began the slow process of pushing Christianity to the periphery of Western culture. In this telling, Christianity is non-rational, mythological, and prone to violence. Secularism came to the rescue. Embedded in this view of secularism is the assumption of the myth of neutrality, a metaphorically naked public square. Neutral comes from the Latin “neuter” meaning “neither one nor the other,” so it’s come to mean unbiased which it most certainly is not. In this illusory “neutral” place, secularism is the unbiased referee calling balls and strikes without that pesky Christianity getting involved and inevitably leading to theocracy and intolerance, and thus violence.

Secular, understood classically in the medieval world prior to the Enlightenment, simply meant the mundane as opposed to the sacred. The Reformation rightly critiqued this dichotomy between the secular and the sacred as unbiblical, but the rationalism of Enlightenment thinkers ended up affirming the same dichotomy, only now religion ended up becoming dangerous to social harmony. As Christianity’s influence waned in Western civilization, secularism came to dominate the public square as a force hostile to Christianity, and in due course became the dominant worldview of the West. The hostility is expressed in manifold ways throughout government and every area of culture, but there is no need to inventory them here. We’re all too depressingly familiar with them as it is. What well-meaning Christians miss, unfortunately, is the all-encompassing, tyrannical nature of secularism.

In Classical Apologetics, R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley start their 1984 book with a chapter titled, “The Crisis of Secularism.”

The impact of secularism…  . . . has been pervasive and cataclysmic, shaking the foundations of the value structures of Western civilization. The Judeo-Christian consensus is no more; it has lost its place as the dominant shaping force of cultural ethics.…  . . . Sooner or later the vacuum (the rejection of theology in the West) will be filled, and if it cannot be filled by the transcendent, then it will be filled by the immanent. The force that floods into such vacuums is statism, the inevitable omega point of secularism.

They wrote this almost 40 years ago, and we are now in the “later” they speak of—the vacuum has been fully filled. At the time they wrote, nobody could envision the most pernicious enemy of liberty the world has known; the globalist technocratic elite enabled by the ubiquity of the Internet. Fortunately, that same Internet is the Gutenberg press of the 21st century, and the elites will be no more successful in suppressing the truth than the Catholic Church was in suppressing the Reformation.

America’s Fight for Liberty
Most people would agree that true political and religious liberty was for the first time realized in the republic that is the United States of America. Yet, Mark David Hall answers the question of his book, Did America Have a Christian Founding? with a resounding yes! Christianity and liberty are perfectly compatible. In fact, liberty is impossible without it. Unfortunately, the myth of neutrality leads many Christians to mistakenly believe religious freedom means a type of pluralism where all faiths are equally welcome at a neutral public table with mutual respect and tolerance for all. A perfect example of this misconception comes from David French, a one-time conservative who became an implacable foe of Donald Trump (becoming a NeverTrumper). This quote comes from an article in the left-wing Atlantic magazine titled, “Pluralism Has Life Left in It Yet”:

The magic of the American republic is that it can create space for people who possess deeply different world views to live together, work together, and thrive together, even as they stay true to their different religious faiths and moral convictions.

This magic world of America that French invents out of whole cloth never existed, because in God’s created reality, currently fallen and chock full of sinners, such a pluralist Utopia does not and cannot exist. Which is why America was founded as a Protestant republic with shared biblical assumptions and the Bible as its foundational religious text. Most people don’t realize, obviously including David French, that for the first approximately 170 years of America’s history most states had anti-blasphemy and sabbath laws. Not to mention anti-sodomy laws. Doesn’t sound very magical or pluralistic to me!

America’s founders were Englishmen fighting for the rights of Englishmen, which is why someone like Patriot Patrick Henry uttered these immortal words during a speech to the Second Virginia Convention in March 1775:

What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Sadly, most Americans today have traded liberty for security. The English men and women who turned into Americans understood the true value of liberty, of self-government, because they knew their English history, which Americans have lamentably forgotten given the woeful state of so-called “public education.” The revolution was their fight for “the rights of Englishmen.” They knew about Alfred the Great, Magna Carta, The Puritans, Oliver Cromwell and his fight for religious tolerance, and the Glorious Revolution and its Bill of Rights. In fact, Pulpits across America, influential in a way modern Americans can’t comprehend, were aflame with justifications for liberty and revolution. Americans as Englishmen saw their rights earned centuries before being blithely discarded by the British government.

Covid and Recapturing of Our Liberty
None of this was in the realm of abstract “rights” intellectual conservatives love to argue about. It was real, boots on the ground, everyday living as self-governing people before God who granted them the liberty to live their own lives. Americans were eminently practical people, including its intellectual leaders. Unfortunately, with the rise of progressivism starting in the early 20th century, most Americans slowly lost the genius of America as being a self-governing republic. Instead of taking care of ourselves as a self-governing people, we gave over that care to the Nanny State. The Covid debacle was an indication of just how far we’ve fallen. Too many Americans, sadly, proved to be sheeple instead of the independent citizens America used to produce. But Covid has turned out to be a blessing in disguise because God’s job is to turn evil into good and thwart the devil’s plans to destroy his creation.

I’ve always believed the greatness that is America still resides in most Americans to some degree, and the progressive globalist totalitarians cannot wipe it out completely. Once the Covid scam came to be seen as exactly that, a scam, Americans woke up. They realized that instead of blindly trusting “experts” they should trust themselves. Because of the Internet, the globalists can no longer control “the narrative,” and truth is winning. There is a Great Awakening on so many levels. I believe we can defeat America’s woke Maxrist enemies, and re-found America based on limited government as a self-governing people. We need to pray for this daily and trust God in his sovereign Almighty providence will make that happen through us.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: A Parable for Our Times

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: A Parable for Our Times

I don’t know how many years it’s been since I saw this classic 1939 movie starring Jimmy Stewart and directed by the great Frank Capra, so I didn’t realize how relevant it would be to 2023. And I mean spot on relevant. Those two, by the way, teamed up to make the also classic, It’s a Wonderful Life in 1946.

One thing before I get to my thoughts. It’s refreshing to watch a movie that doesn’t have gratuitous F words thrown around all over the place. In fact, the entire movie didn’t have one single vulgarity, and it didn’t affect the verisimilitude of it at all. Every new TV show and movie, unless it’s specifically a Christian production, has to have F this and F that all over this place. It’s banal now and tiring, and is ruining a perfectly good vulgarity by overuse. Now to Mr. Smith.

You might be surprised to learn the exact same dynamics we see playing out in 2023 politics has always been so. In fact, the more I learn the details of America’s founding era, the more I see nastiness is the nature of politics. There never has been nor will there ever be a golden age of politics. However, there have only been two periods, so far, where bloodshed was required to get political answers to intractable problems. The first was the Revolution where Englishmen engaged in a civil war to see whether political independence would be a reality for the American colonies. Once it did, keeping the states united in their independence was a struggle. It wasn’t at all obvious the United States of America would last. The next time our countrymen went to war against one another was the Civil War, the conflict caused by the great scourge on our country, slavery. There too it wasn’t at all obvious that the United States of America would last. We are now in third period of American history where America as we know it seems like it could easily fall apart. As it is often said, we live in a time of cold civil war.

The Nature of this War
In the book I just finished (I’m in the process of getting it published), I wrote a chapter on the re-founding of America. The republic as founded if not lost is slipping away, quickly. The current regime, junta really, has jettisoned the rule of law. Now, Democrat-leftist politics is law, the in-Justice Department and their military, the FBI, has created a police state. This weaponization of government—which only goes one way, left against right, Democrats against Republicans, Media-Industrial Complex against regular Americans—started back not long after 9/11 with the Patriot Act. Promoted by the Bush/Cheney administration, it passed the House that year 357 to 66, ironically the majority of the no votes coming from Democrats (62). It is important to understand what happened in this legislation:

  • The Patriot Act turned the intel surveillance radar from foreign searches for terrorists to domestic searches for terrorists.

What was allowed in other countries, i.e., spying on people, was now allowed on American soil, all in the name of catching terrorists, of course.

Then two things happened when Obama was elected president and took office in 2009. Remember he boasted five days before the election that his goal was “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” This began happening in two ways. First, leftist groupthink took over the Democrat Party and the corporate media. For the latter, all pretensions to objectivity went out the window. The media was now the cheerleader for all leftist-Democrat policies and politicians, and complicit in discrediting their opponents, Republicans and conservatives. All things leftist not only took over government, including the intelligence bureaucracy (CIA, DOJ, FBI, etc.), but the culture as well. The war against America, its fundamental transformation, was waged on two very effective fronts. The second relates specifically to the Patriot Act.

  • The Obama/Biden administration redefined what a “terrorist” is to include their political opposition.

This happened during his presidency, but we began to see the full pernicious power of this “deep state” before Trump even took office. Despite Republicans controlling both houses of congress, the wheels of injustice kept turning because Republicans hated Trump as much as Democrats (it’s called the Uniparty after all). If you want to take a deep dive about all this to see exactly what patriotic Americans are up against, I encourage you to read this detailed piece at The Conservative Treehouse on The Post 9/11 Weaponization of The U.S. Govt. It is sobering.

You’ll also want to watch this trailer, and eventually Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie called Police State. It’s almost unfathomable this can be happening in the United States of America, but alas, it is. The Marxists are in charge, and like all good Marxists they will do whatever it takes to keep and extend their power. Power is an aphrodisiac to some, and a responsibility to others. Mr. Smith understood it was the latter. The problem for the bad guys, however, is us, and the genius of the Founding Fathers of America. There is still enough of America left to save it all.

How We fight back-We the People . . . .
I encourage you to watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington if you haven’t seen it, and watch it again if you have. It’s almost da ja vu all over again. The people and the technology have changed, but it’s eerie how it mirrors our own day. It shows that there is real, substantive power in “We the people,” something never before given to a people in the history of the world. We just don’t take advantage of it. We the people are the first words in our Constitution and have changed the world in too many ways to count. Yet, what do we do? Complain. We’re terribly good at it too. We even delude ourselves into thinking that means we are doing something. It most certainly does not!

I must quote from an article written in The Atlantic in April 1877 by the twentieth president of the United State, James A. Garfield, then a member of the US House of Representatives. It is called “A Century of Congress,” and he reflects on the history of American government focusing on congress and its importance to a well-functioning republic. It could not be timelier or more apropos for our day because of the inherent fragility of this experiment of government of, by, and for the people (in Lincoln’s memorable phrase):

[N]ow, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand those high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . The most alarming feature of our situation is the fact that so many citizens of high character and solid judgment pay but little attention to the sources of political power, to the selection of those who shall make their laws. The clergy, the faculties of colleges, and many of the leading business men of the community never attend the township caucus, the city primaries, or the county convention; but they allow the less intelligent and the more selfish and corrupt members of the community to make the slates and “run the machine” of politics. They wait until the machine has done its work, and then, in surprise and horror at the ignorance and corruption in public office, sigh for the return of that mythical period called the “better and purer days of the republic.” It is precisely this neglect of the first steps in our political processes that has made possible the worst evils of our system.

Chalk this up to the more things change . . . . I like the way someone in our day, Eric Metaxas, puts the opportunity and danger inherent in the American system of government:

[B]y itself the Constitution could do very little. What it promised would require the efforts of all those who henceforth called themselves Americans. It was they who must keep it, the republic and the grand and noble promise of that republic. That is the wonderful, spectacular genius of it all, and the terrible, sobering danger of it all too. The document and the men who created it put these unimaginably great and fragile things in the hands of the people.

Notice very carefully what President Garfield concluded: “It is precisely this neglect of the first steps in our political processes that has made possible the worst evils of our system.” So if you want to know who to blame for what’s going on in Washington, DC right now, look in the mirror. We call this tough love.

What Can I Do?
Well, I’m glad you asked. I can’t explore in detail here what civic engagement will look like for each person. It will look different for each one of us depending on our talents, aspirations, age, commitments, resources, etc. As the Apostle Paul said, different parts of the body have different functions but they are all of value and necessary. But I will share a few thoughts.

For most of my life I’ve seen the key to changing our country happening from the top down; I was wrong. Many Americans agree with me, realizing nobody is coming to the rescue; that if our country is to be saved it is going to be up to us—we the people. Change has to happen in large part from the bottom up, at the local level. We’ve become fat, happy, and lazy believing if we just vote things will take care of themselves. Clearly they won’t. This is a challenge for those of us of a conservative bent like me who just want to live our lives, take care of our families, and enjoy God’s blessings. That is no longer an option. I know the 80/20 rule is a fact of life, that twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work and vice versa, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and we must encourage each other to get involved or lose the right to complain. But what if twenty percent of God fearing patriotic Americans actually got involved? We could turn the world upside down! 

Those inclined to run for public office can serve in local city government, or county, or even at the state level. This is a heavy commitment which is why we need to pray for God to raise up Godly men and women of integrity committed to America’s founding principles. Those not so inclined must hold accountable those who are. This takes time and often money. It means showing up, writing e-mails, and making calls. I started seeing the possibilities of this when I discovered Steve Bannon’s War Room. There are patriots all over the country who realize the desperate times in which we live, and Bannon offered me a window to see this happening. It’s one of the reasons after the 2020 election and J6 fiascos I turned from a pessimist into an optimist. Because of the genius of the Founding Fathers, even as far gone as America is now, there are still many legal, peaceful means to fight back and defeat America’s enemies. 

One thing my wife and I have done (which doesn’t require an extensive commitment) is become precinct committeemen in our local county GOP. On War Room in February of 2021, I learned about something called the Precinct Strategy on his show as a means for conservatives to take over the Republican Party. There are over 400,000 of these positions throughout the country, and at least half are empty. I learned we can take over the Republican Party from the RINOs, who are not committed to America as founded, by becoming voting members of the Party. Unlike the Democrat Party, the Republican Party was developed to be run from the ground up to truly reflect what America is as a self-governing representative republic. People can be involved a little or a lot or anywhere in between, but I’ve seen this make a difference at the ground level in various states. I always think about the 200,000 empty positions when I see people complain.

Anytime you are tempted to complain, think about Mr. Smith and the power of “We the people.” We have our own modern example of Mr. Smith and the power of “We the people.” That would be congressman Matt Gaetz. Almost single handedly he, along with five or so other congressmen he led, were able to get the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, deposed, a first in American history. He stood firm for three weeks while being pilloried by so-called conservatives and the left-liberal media. But as Steve Bannon often says, courage is contagious. And like “We the people” in the movie put pressure on their elected representatives, so did “We the people” on the real congress, and Mike Johnson was elected Speaker, an unashamed Christian who brings his Christian convictions and worldview boldly to his duties as Speaker. We, with lots of prayer, are our only hope.

A Rebel with a Cause, Matt Gaetz Delivers Righteous Remarks to Florida Freedom Summit on Saturday. Mr. Smith would be proud.

Russell Moore’s American Evangelical Church Crisis and the Myth of Neutrality

Russell Moore’s American Evangelical Church Crisis and the Myth of Neutrality

If you don’t know who Russell Moore is, you’re not missing much. He used to be a big shot in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and last year became the Editor-in-Chief of Christianity Today. He left the SBC amid some controversy in 2020 and eventually took over at Christianity Today. He’s a Christian, along with people like David French, leftist elite society loves. He writes for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, among other establishment organs of the approved secular cultural and political narratives. To say the least, he is not a fan of the MAGA movement thinking it’s infected the Evangelical church and as he argues has created a crisis for the church. He writes of this “crisis” in a July article in The Atlantic, and since my last two pieces were about “gospel losers,” I figured it would be important to continue the theme of the biblical contrast to such anti-cultural engagement Christianity.

Like the young pastor Poythress in my previous posts, Moore believes in a personal pietistic kind of Christianity, and thinks cultural and political engagement is poison to the true mission of the church. As with other people who think like him, he is good at setting up straw men (a logical fallacy) so he can mow them down. The Christians he criticizes are caricatures in his imagination. He condemns people like me, but what he says I believe is inaccurate and untrue. The straw man strategy is an effective way to get people who already agree with you to agree with you, which is why he writes for leftist publications, and Christianity Today has lamentably become one of those. He doesn’t know any populist-nationalist (MAGA) conservative Christians like me because if he did he couldn’t write pieces like this in good faith. I’m not going to go through the paragraphs like I did in my previous posts, but give a couple examples of his straw men and false choice assertions, and argue for the biblical position. Which, by the way, can be proved without doubt by the history of the church. Here is the very first paragraph:

The No. 1 question that younger evangelicals ask me is how to relate to their parents and mentors who want to talk about culture-war politics and internet conspiracy theories instead of prayer or the Bible. These young people are committed to their Christian faith, but they feel despair and cynicism about the Church’s future. Almost none of them even call themselves “evangelical” anymore, now that the label is confused with political categories.

I will assume he’s being honest here and not using this to simply make a rhetorical point. If it is true, he needs to talk to more young Evangelicals. And beware of anyone who uses the phrase “internet conspiracy theories” to discredit others. We’ve seen the last several years how the globalist deep state elites used this to try to stifle dissent and anything against the accepted “narratives.” You can see in the last sentence he embraces a personalized pietistic faith that shouldn’t get too involved in politics. He asserts a false choice typical of such thinking: it’s either “culture-war politics” or prayer and the Bible. It is not. Here is the most egregious straw many setup:

Some evangelical Christians have confused “revival” with a return to a mythical golden age.

Really? Can you give me some proof of this, Russell? He can’t because they don’t exist except in his imagination. He uses the word nostalgia four times in the piece to make his point, which only makes it weaker. As he says, “The idea of revival as a return to some real or imagined moment of greatness is not just illusory but dangerous.” I wonder how dangerous it really is when nobody actually believes it! I’ll quote two more sentences that show how committed his is to a personalized pietistic Christianity.

Nostalgia—especially of the sort wielded by demagogues and authoritarians—cannot protect religious faith, because it uses religion as a tool for worldly ends, leaving a spiritual void. The Christian Church still needs an organic movement of people reminding the rest of us that there’s hope for personal transformation, for the kind of crisis that leads to grace.

It doesn’t surprise me that Moore accuses those Christians he disagrees with as being “authoritarians.” Since the New Left arose in the 1960s they’ve used the “authoritarian” card to discredit and try to silence Christians who dare bring their faith into the public square. Unlike the leftists, Christians are supposed to leave their faith at home, and apparently Moore agrees with them. This is especially targeted at Christians who want their Christian faith and worldview reflected in how our nation is governed. That he is using leftwing rhetoric to discredit fellow Christians is reprehensible.

Lastly, he says the answer is “a commitment to personal faith and to the authority of the Bible.” He won’t get any argument from me there, but we mean something completely different by “personal faith.” The distinction of what “personal faith” is gets to the nature of the Christian faith and the heart of the issue. Pietism has been a disaster for the church and its influence in Western culture. This movement of 17th century German Lutheranism in due course influenced Evangelical Christianity in a way that divorced faith from life beyond the Christian’s personal piety. In other words, personal holiness and devotion, prayer, Bible study, church, etc. are such a priority that everything else pales in comparison. As you can see from Moore, even being concerned, or engaged in things like politics or “culture wars” distorts Christianity from what he thinks is its true purpose, personal transformation. The problem with this view is that it is not only not biblical, but an extreme distortion of the gospel. Cultural influence at every level, including politics, is baked into the gospel cake.

Christians in the first centuries of the church declaring “Jesus is Lord” was a loaded political statement. Unlike modern pietistic Christians, the ancient church knew there was no such thing as a “neutral” society. Someone had to be Lord, and it would be either Caesar or Christ. Many of these early Christians gave their lives because they understood the Christian faith was not at all just personal, but had ramifications for all of life. It wouldn’t be until the rise of the Enlightenment in the 17th century that secularism began its attack on Christian Western civilization which by the 20th century introduced the concept of neutrality, or as it is rightly called, the myth of neutrality. That Christians bought into, and still do, this myth has been a disaster for Christian cultural influence in the West over that last sixty plus years. Secularism reigns in our day, and because it does Christians who venture into the public square declaring God’s law and word as applicable to everything are attacked as “authoritarians,” among other epithets. As long as we accept our place at the pluralistic table and keep our faith respectfully private, we can occasionally scrape up some cultural crumbs to keep us happy. Russell Moore obviously agrees with the secularists.    

Jesus clearly said (Matt. 28:16-20) because he was given all authority that we are to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them to obey everything he commanded. This is also the same Jesus who said we are to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matt. 4), and who declared that the entire Old Testament was about him (Luke 24). From the moment God called Abram out of Ur to make for himself a people (Gen. 12), the faith of His people had radical implications for all of life, both personal and societal. How could it not! Human beings live in communities, live as peoples, as nations, and some worldview, some ultimate source will be authoritative. In the West, which includes most of the world today, that source is either God in Christ revealed in His Word, or man. There is no in between, as badly as Russell Moore wants to think there is.


Gospel Losers: Teaching Christians How to Lose, Part 2

Gospel Losers: Teaching Christians How to Lose, Part 2

In my last post I vented about the badness of this piece by a young pastor, Justin N. Poythress: “How Evangelicals Lose Will Make All the Difference.” There was too much badness for just one post, so I continue here. His last section is titled, “Better Way,” so let’s see exactly what this way entails. He starts with a doozy:

Jesus tells his followers to take up their crosses, not their crowns (Matt. 16:24–26).

Indeed he does, but what has that to do with crowns, you ask? The young Pastor Poythress creates a false choice. If Jesus calls his followers to suffer in some way, then crowns, or winning, is somehow at odds with the suffering we are called to in Christ. But as I said in the previous post, suffering can take many different forms for the Christian. In fact, we suffer in a myriad of ways every day, psychologically, emotionally, at times physically. This is what I call the pain of sanctification. Sadly there are some Christians called to physical suffering for proclaiming their faith, as is the case in many places around the world today. That doesn’t mean, however, that such suffering is inevitable or the only calling of the Christian. Far from it. Here is the perspective of our Lord and Savior who sits at the right hand of the Father when he gave his followers what we call the Great Commission:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Notice what comes before “Therefore.” We only go and make disciples of “all nations” because Jesus has been given “all authority in heaven and on earth.” What’s the point of Jesus saying he’s been given this authority if he’s sending out his disciples to lose? Did he intend when he said this that his disciples, those trained and instructed as his followers, could not win?  And as I often proclaim, Jesus didn’t say to make disciples of all people, of all individuals, but all nations, in the Greek ethnos-ἔθνος. Does the Christian influence coming from “teaching them to obey everything” he commanded them not apply to politics and issues of culture? To issues of the so called “culture war”? This was a war, by the way, we did not start. Do these questions not answer themselves? Is it not obvious? (Read Psalm 2 and Eph. 1:15-23 in case you’re not sure.)

Then following his crosses, not crowns declaration he states:

Though our faith may be increasingly marginalized and devalued in the West, losing cultural battles with grace, dignity, and love can persuasively display Christ’s cruciform beauty. Conversely, there’s nothing persuasive about chasing the perks of power.

What exactly is “cruciform beauty”? The word simply means in the shape of a cross. The problem with this statement is that it’s absurd. I know what he means, the Isaiah 53 sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, for our sin and reconciliation to our Creator. That is indeed beautiful. However, there is nothing beautiful about a cross. It was the most ugly, horrific, means of torture and death ever devised by sinful man. The cross is only part of the story. The other parts are Jesus’ life lived in perfect obedience to God making him able to grant us his very own righteousness (Rom. 3), his resurrection, victory over death itself, and most importantly, his ascension to be seated at the right hand of the Lord God Almighty. He earned the right to sit there and reign over all of creation, visible and invisible, to advance his kingdom on earth, to reverse the fall if you will, and build his church, conquering all his enemies until the final one is defeated, death (I Cor. 15:25).

Notice also there is supposedly something dirty about “power,” and the “perks” it conveys. It reminds me of certain legalistic Christians who think sex is “dirty.” Power like sex is a natural part of life, and everything depends on what we do with it. He seems to think if we’re seeking “power” we’re doing something inherently wrong, as he says:

Suffering because you’re harmful or obnoxious isn’t Christian faithfulness. Worse, desperately clutching for the instruments of power or elbowing to get a seat at the table sacrifices Christ’s cause to chaos.

Who exactly are these “harmful or obnoxious” people? Jerks on the Internet? And clearly this power he’s obsessed with is a dirty business and in no way has anything to do with Christ’s cause. I would say this is naïve, but it’s worse than that. He completely lacks wisdom about the nature of reality and sinful man, and life lived in societies full of fallen people.

Aristotle in his Politics said that man is a political animal because we live in communities and seek certain ends of our own good, and this can’t happen without power; the process of deciding what is allowed or not, and the means to enforce it. Simply, politics is the distribution of power, and Christians throughout all of history were intimately involved in it and didn’t think of it as beneath them.

Poythress gets to the heart of what makes his understanding so problematic.

This doesn’t mean Christian political savvy is thrown aside while we lie down and float away with the cultural tide. It does mean American evangelicals have a golden opportunity, even in years when it seems the sun is setting on our influence, to prove our hope is vested beyond the material and visible. We can chart for the next generation a trail of faithfulness that avoids bitter and reclusive cultural withdrawal on the one hand and vengeful scorched-earth behavior on the other.

This is typical of third wayism as if our choices are extreme withdrawal or behavior, or some middle way. To Poythress here is the “Better Way”:

As faithful evangelicals, we advocate for God’s ways and encourage our neighbors to follow them while leaving the results to God.

He assumes fighting for Christianity and truth in the public square means we’re not leaving the results to God. This is the typically condescending perspective of Christians who think they’re above it all. He seems to forget God uses people to accomplish things in this world even though ultimate results are always up to Him.

This mentality is an example of a typical artificial duality in overly spiritualized Christians. Joe Boot explains the problem in his little pamphlet For Mission:

[This] is an implicit and destructive duality that slices up reality into matter and spirit, nature and grace, secular and sacred, naturel and supernatural, time and eternity, higher and lower, with one area perceived as lesser or evil and the other as higher or good. This tendency has resulted in a radical separation of creation and redemption (where redemption is essentially for the higher story of existence), spiritual life and historical-cultural development and mutually reinforcing pattern of subservience to non-Christian culture/nature/secular on the one hand, and the abandonment of Christian culture-building (grace/sacred) on the other.

Boot calls this Churchianity, or those Christians who are “at best disinterested in Christ’s manifest Lordship over any other sphere of life or institution, and at worse are hostile to it.” Francis Schaeffer was warning Christians about this faulty understanding of Christianity back in the 1960s and 70s before the West had become completely secularized. He spoke out against such a dangerous duality that would completely impoverish Christianity’s influence in culture. Too many Christians ignored his warnings  and secularism, along with all its horrors, has won the day. It doesn’t have to be this way.



Gospel Losers: Teaching Christians How to Lose

Gospel Losers: Teaching Christians How to Lose

When I read the title of this peace I knew reading it would not be good for my blood pressure: “How Evangelicals Lose Will Make All the Difference.” And it was worse than I thought. That it was on the Gospel Coalition website surprised me not at all. There are so many logical fallacies and theological misunderstandings in it that it’s almost impressive. Let me take them one by one and see how far I get. The sheer badness of it may require more than one post.

Before I get there, that something like this can be written and believed by a large contingent of Evangelical Christians is depressing. I’m convinced part of the reason people think this way, and think it’s the biblical way to think, is because of faulty eschatology, but that’s not all of it. There are many dispensational premillennialist Pentecostal Christians I have more in common with in this regard than my Reformed brethren, and to say the least I do not agree with their eschatology. Most Christians believe losing “down here” is baked into the gospel cake. They are convinced suffering and loss of cultural influence are the only and inevitable hallmarks of the Christian life. They are not! Taking up our cross and following Jesus doesn’t mean Christians are called to being thrown to the lions or burned at the stake. We know that suffering and dying to ourselves takes many forms, and none of it is pleasant. Let’s see what our young pastor, Justin N. Poythress, thinks.

He is addressing something called “The Seven Mountain Mandate.” Some Christians believe a passage in Revelation is a call “to retake seven spheres (or mountains) of cultural influence: religion, family, government, education, media, arts/entertainment, and business.” Well, yeah, the Christian worldview addresses everything in life, including these broad areas, and more. Jesus in the Great Commission said his followers were to disciple nations. That has implications for all these things, and more. I’ll start with this: 

The perspective is ultimately built on a dual misunderstanding of Scripture and of Christ’s purposes in the world. 

Those are some pretty big things to misunderstand! Here is what he believes the Seven Mountain Mandate misses in the passage in Revelation:

The passage was intended as a picture of the spiritual battle waged through all history until Christ returns. It was intended to give Christians hope amid their suffering and cultural loss.

Well yes, it was. The Christians to whom the Apostle John was writing were often being perThe passage was intended as a picture of the spiritual battle waged through all history until Christ returns. It was intended to give Christians hope amid their suffering and cultural loss. secuted violently, some giving their lives for the gospel. But are all Christians in all geopolitical and cultural situations throughout history facing the same kind of persecutions? Is Poythress saying that’s just the inevitable lot for Christians and there is nothing we can do about it but learn to “lose gracefully”? And notice he does something typical of such thinking, he spiritualizes it. Christianity supposedly applies primarily to “spiritual” things, not the mundane issues of life lived in culture.

He then commits a colossal non sequitur (the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise), among many in this short piece. However one interprets the passage in Revelation he asserts:

the conquering warrior is always the crucified Christ, not a sword-swinging church. 

It does not follow that just because the crucified Christ is indeed the conquering warrior, that the church can’t be swinging swords. We’re just supposed to sit back and take it? I guess, be nice and loving and not fight for truth or justice or righteousness or the honor of God? What does this even mean? He says after this:

Even if you’ve never heard of the 7M mandate (and its strange reading of Revelation), it can still be tempting to think Christ’s kingdom grows by “winning” cultural power and influence. If this is where we place our hope, it’ll be hard to stomach the losses.

This is a perfect example of his sloppy thinking. To his mind “winning” cultural power and influence is antithetical to Christ’s kingdom. Somehow Christians living out Kingdom values found throughout the gospels are not supposed to have “cultural power and influence.” Really? How was it that the Roman Empire eventually fell to the “cultural power and influence” of Christianity? Was that a mistake? Unbiblical? Something God never intended when he came to earth in the person of Christ? Why then did Jesus teach us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? Maybe because God wanted us to bring the influence of heaven into the cultures in which we live? Just maybe? In fact, the very nature of God’s kingdom, the kingdom of heaven is to bring it “down” to earth, and when it grows it will always gain “cultural power and influence.” How can it not! You wonder how he and those who think like him interpret the parables of the mustard seed and leaven in Matthew 13. It sure seems that Jesus is saying that the influence of the kingdom of heaven grows inevitably and inexorably, and it cannot help but have influence in cultures.

The next sentence is even worse. Because we desire the gospel to influence the culture and have “cultural power” therefore we’re placing our hope in that and not Christ? Really? We can’t want Christ to be glorified and obeyed in the societies in which we live? That’s not Christian? Frankly, that’s insulting. Then he asserts we need to be concerned with how we are seen by the culture:

Evangelicals increasingly run the risk of being seen as sore losers in the culture war. Our inability to let go, to relinquish positions of public prominence and power, reveals a misplaced faith. Too often, we’ve entangled Jesus’s name with a political agenda, as mainline Christians did when they made the church into little more than a social club for liberal activism.

Oh my. I could do an entire post just about this! So it follows that if we want “cultural power and influence” and we have a tough time of it we’ll be sore losers? We’re supposed to glory in our losing? Really? He must think we aren’t aware that we live in a fallen world among fallen people in a fallen body. Losing and overcoming, and losing again, and overcoming, and losing again, and overcoming is called life! Personally or culturally. 

I wonder if the Apostles and the first generation of disciples cared about how they were “seen” by the Jews and Pagans of Rome. And the gospel calls us to “relinquish positions of public prominence and power”? Really? What kind of doormat theology is this! And he has the gall to compare those Christians, like me, who think our Christianity compels us to a certain political agenda to the liberal Christians of the early 20th century? Really? As you can tell, the old Italian blood gets boiling when I read such calumnies. For you youngsters, that word means insults. And everything about that paragraphs reeks of self-righteousness. He and his ilk think they are above such mundane matters as “the culture war.” I guess as I said above, fighting for truth or justice or righteousness or the honor of God is “misplaced faith.”

I’ve written here about Tim Keller’s unfortunate creating of a moral equivalence between left and right. I’ve heard this called “third wayism,” as if there is some middle way, a more gospel way, between the radical left and the radical right, as Keller said. In our day, there is no “radical right.” And everyone on the left, including most Democrat politicians, and the entire legacy media, are Marxists, thus by definition “radical.” The “culture wars” were started by the left against the right (conservatives) in the 1960s, and we decided to fight back. Now Christians like the young pastor Poythress want us to roll over and play dead because fighting back is “misplaced faith”? Apparently. 

There is much more fodder in the rest of the piece, so I’ll have to do that in another post.


Uganda Homosexuality Law Part 2

Uganda Homosexuality Law Part 2

In my previous post, using Uganda’s new anti-homosexuality law, I argued that Scripture is a legitimate source of authority for nations, that God’s law and rule (theonomy and theocracy) are something Christians should argue for in the public square, specifically regarding a nation’s laws. Everyone is religious; there is no such thing as an unbeliever, and the basis of any nation’s laws come from its fundamental religious (i.e., faith) commitments. As I argued, secular neutrality is a myth. All law comes from somewhere. Ignorant and unthinking people will say, “You can’t legislate morality,” when law is exactly that, legislated morality! So for Christians to say we can’t as Christians use Scripture as a basis for the laws of America is not only un-Scriptural, but self-defeating. It’s like going to fight a war but giving your most powerful and effective weapons to the enemy. Good luck! But it is critically important we realize in the culture wars in which we are engaged, that we are not in any way limited to Scripture in these battles. We have a powerful arsenal that complements Scripture. First is God’s created reality that corresponds to Scripture, and we have the One who made both, our Savior and God who sits at the right hand of the Almighty “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked” (Eph. 1).

I critiqued an article by someone who wrote a piece at American Reformer about the Ugandan law, and I was critical because he stated it wasn’t established “from Scripture, let alone for theonomic or theocratic reasons.” He further contended the law was “an imminently reasonable position compatible with Christian doctrine and ethics, but knowable apart from divine revelation.” The implied assumption is that divine revelation isn’t necessary for such a law to be passed. How else would people know homosexuality is wrong, immoral, and destructive of a flourishing society? The author claims it is “reason, nature, and tradition.” The problem with such an argument is that it is only because of Scripture, verbal revelation of God’s being and will, that “reason, nature, and tradition” tell us homosexuality is immoral and destructive. The ancient Greeks, of whom we Westerners are quite fond, had “reason, nature, and tradition” as well, but not Scripture, and they thought homosexuality was just fine, not immoral in the least. For example, according to Wikipedia:

Pederasty in ancient Greece was a socially acknowledged romantic relationship between an older male (the erastes) and a younger male (the eromenos) usually in his teens.

Kinda blows the whole “reason, nature, and tradition” argument out the door doesn’t it. Why didn’t the ancient Greeks treat homosexuality like the Ancient Hebrews? Scripture! God’s divine verbal revelation. God used words to communicate how his creatures, who also use words, should live so they can experience maximal blessing and flourishing in life. Homosexual activity mitigates against that. God would not have put warnings against homosexuality in his law if it were otherwise.

Contrary to popular opinion, and our natural sinful hearts, God is not a cosmic killjoy. That was Satan’s lie to Eve, and she bought it. All the horror in life goes back to that fundamental lie that we cannot trust God’s character. God didn’t warn us against homosexuality because he didn’t want people attracted to others of the same sex not to have fun or experience romance. He did it because that lifestyle doesn’t lead to true human happiness and flourishing, but misery and unhappiness. Are there happy homosexuals? Of course, but exceptions never disprove rules. And on a societal level the acceptance of homosexuality contributes to the deterioration of the family, as is readily apparent in America. If a homosexual drenched America is such a happy place, why did almost 50,000 people die by their own hands last year? Because America has thrown God’s law under the bus. Rampant sex outside of marriage leads to the dissolution of the family. Dysfunctional families then lead to dysfunctional societies and eventually widespread despair. Human happiness and flourishing is the reason God says sex is only moral and good and blessed inside a marriage between a man and a woman.

As I said above, though, as Christians we are not limited to Scripture when we come to the public square. We must bring Scripture to the debate and never shy away from it, but we also have things compatible with Scripture confirming it: “reason, nature, and tradition.” Christians are not to be Biblicists, meaning we think Scripture is our only source of authority. It is our ultimate and final source, but God hasn’t limited his revelation to just the Bible, but to creation as well. As the Apostle Paul says (Rom. 1:20),

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so they are without excuse.

The “they” Paul is referring to is all of us, every single human being. And note Paul’s assertion, that this revelation of God’s invisible qualities, who He is, is “clearly seen.” It cannot be mistaken for anything else than what it is, a manifestation of God’s “eternal power and divine nature” no matter how much people deny that. Prior to this Paul says people suppress the truth because of their wickedness, meaning they love their sin so much they’ll gladly delude and lie to themselves and believe their lies as if they were true. Thus we passed homosexuality a while ago now, and the lie de jure is that biological sex is not hardwired and can be changed any old time we feel like it. So to the “enlightened” among us, boys can become girls and girls can become boys, and men and women are not fundamentally different. The thing about truth, though, is that it can only be suppressed for so long then the lies start being exposed for what they are, lies.

We are in a wonderful time in history filled with opportunities because the lies are becoming so obvious even people who are not religious or political (“normies”) now realize it. What they don’t realize, however, is that the normalization of homosexuality over the last 40 years has led us to the point where the newest Supreme Court justice doesn’t know what a woman is. Think about that! Reason and nature (creation) tell us exactly what the Bible does about human sexuality. It’s obvious to anyone not previously indoctrinated that each part of the human body has a telos, a purpose, an end for which it was designed. Specific parts are clearly meant for sexual pleasure and procreation, and other parts are not. I won’t belabor the obvious, but when we live according to God’s design in creation, blessings follow, but when we flout them trouble and misery inevitably will. Reason also tells us when we look at all the sociological data over the last 50 years (ignorance is no longer excusable), intact families, husband, wife, kids, are by far the best environment for raising children into emotionally and psychologically healthy functioning adults. Today, sadly, most children grow up without a married mother and father, and we wonder why things are so screwed up. 

We must always remember, everything God commands is for His creatures to flourish as His creatures in His world, contrary to 300 plus years of Enlightenment lies carried into secular lies that morphed into liberal, Marxist, progressive, and leftist lies. This false narrative is well ensconced in the average person’s mind and they believe it. Sadly many Christians buy into it and hurl theocracy around as an epithet. For all of them, if Christians have too much say, too much political power, the country will turn into a version of The Handmaid’s Tale, a book about a Christian fundamentalist theocratic America which was sadly turned into hit show on Hulu. It’s those kind of lies and false narratives that we fight.