It’s easy to opine about being apolitical when the overwhelming scourge of its consequences are far away; it seems convenient even to shape religion into a beta-dog acquiescence of the pillars of piety – autonomy, liberty, freedom of conscience, respect, and brotherhood.
The Great Awakening of Jon Edwards and George Whitefield, however, led to a strong and healthy sort of worldview – one which was not merely brainy, but which was evidenced by resolve and purpose.
It was against such an awakened populace that one King George chose to fight. With a jackboot attitude, acts of terror were committed against Americans on the seas; their livelihoods were sapped by ever-increasing taxes; and their desire to be independent was disallowed by force.
When soldiers are about to kill you and your family out of petty greed, suddenly nose-bleed “spirituality” loses its appeal. Or was such stuff ever spiritual in the first place? Who isn’t for peace? The early Americans wanted peace as much as anyone; but when they “spoke,” the British crown was for war.
It seems nice to go along to get along, but eventually such an attitude results in atrocities like the Holocaust. When the church in Germany stayed silent about truth for too long, they couldn’t stop the worst nightmare reign known to man!
The church is to be the conscience of the nation, not an optional caboose. Charles Finney, for example, spoke extensively on how the church should get in politics and speak up for the enslaved Negro’s liberation.
In early America, most of the preachers spoke of standing up to tyranny. Tyranny unchecked is a cancer to the world. These pastors’ preachments on liberty and respect may have been what led the Americans to victory. Known as the “black robed regiment,” these ministers heroically stood side by side with parishioners in defending their fellow man from unjust violence. Today though, it’s considered “unacceptable” to “preach on politics.” What a contrast!
It is not Christians’ involvement in politics that is dirty; it is reclusion from it that makes it so.
Wherever injustice is found; wherever human dignity and autonomy are mocked and disregarded; pastors have an obligation to speak to it.
I appreciate Dan Fisher’s presentation on this subject, entitled “Bringing Back the Black Robed Regiment.” If you would like to watch one version, it is linked below. Hope you enjoy!
I pray…That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. – John 17:20-23
Christ envisioned the church to be universal, unified, catholic (as opposed to fractured) – in short, “one.” But not an “echo chamber” sort of oneness – a familial, friendly, healthy sort of oneness. He envisioned a oneness that was so beautiful, it made unbelievers desire to become believers!
While churches may mentally connect “seeker-friendly” with compromising the truth, Jesus reached higher. He envisioned a communal love of truth that was naturally “seeker-friendly” and drew in outsiders. Jesus didn’t labor under the false burden that it was impossible to embrace both truth and kindness.
When it comes to the internet, the term “echo chamber” has arisen to describe the effect of joining communities of strictly like-minded people which tends to narrow people’s views increasingly. But it seems to be a problem for many churches, too.
Due in part to Obama’s shaming of Christianity, an inverse effect has happened inside the church. As the church loses its power with society, pastors suddenly find themselves with freakish powers over their particular congregations. Spiritual cabin fever sets in, and suddenly “questioning the pastor” becomes the highest sin in the book.
I, for one, do not feel that Sinai is an acceptable model for the church. It even seems that the underlying reason God didn’t allow Moses to enter the promised land may have been his emphasis on law over grace. His instance of yelling at the people and striking the rock to bring forth water (instead of simply speaking to it) may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for God (Num. 20:12; Deu. 1:37). I think God hates when we obfuscate that salvation is by grace through faith; and though Moses certainly served his predestined place in spiritual history, we have a better covenant now built on better promises and which clearly reveals that justification is by faith alone (Heb. 8:6; Rom. 3:24; 5:1).
We must remember, too, that the whole point of the law was to “shut us up” from self-righteous attempts at heaven, “unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Gal. 3:22-25; Rom. 3:19-21ff). Therefore, to revert back to citing how the earth swallowed up dissenters of Moses in the Old Testament in order to maintain power as a pastor; seems, to me, a very dangerous idea. Are you as a pastor removing your flock from the sure foundation of Christ, and building on the shifting sands of legalism?
And it is exactly here that I can finally “begin” this article. Many churches suffer from being “echo chambers” in my opinion. Whether it is some Baptist churches ever suffering from a mushy, apolitical bent; whether it is some holiness churches, laboring under a works salvation mentality; whether it is so-called plain churches, with their obsessive requirement that everyone must interpret 1 Cor. 11:5 exactly as they do; or whether it is some black churches, that foster a mentality of gaming the system and embracing the Democrat party – so many churches today have become veritable echo-chambers!
Seriously, try simply talking about the relevant touchy issues in any such churches, and you’re labeled a schismatic and heretic whom the ground must immediately open up to swallow!
But such churches are thousands of years too late – Jesus has already come, and His religion brought “grace and truth” rather than Moses’ “law” (John 1:17) – indeed, I dare say that God never intended such things to be viewed as the true approach to God. Even under Moses, the spiritual path to God was faith – was justification by faith – belief in grace. Though legalism served a purpose, it was never the true path to God, and converts of the Old Testament were able to see this true intent of God behind the smoke and mirrors of legality, and simply trust Him for their salvation. No one in either dispensation earned their way to heaven.
In any event, I was glad to see a Catholic (bishop Schneider) speaking along these same lines. I’m not a Catholic, but what he said was so true. Disliking the atmosphere of fear created by the new Pope, he said, “the Church is a family where discussion is possible.” That sounds so self-evident, but he’s considered by many as a sort of “heretic” for daring to “undermine” the Pope. Well, the Pope undermined himself by failing to align with spiritual reality (I’m not saying on this issue which I haven’t studied, but on other issues which I have studied).
On the issue at hand (giving communion to adulterers), I personally would offer communion to whoever was gathered (how do you know who might or might not be an adulterer, liar, etc.??) – why do we think we’re responsible for what someone else does? If someone walked up, grabbed the communion out of a priest’s hands, and desecrated it by stomping on it, why is it the priest’s fault? It’s not. It’s the fault of the guy who desecrated it. But that is a digression.
The point is, many conservatives feel downright uncomfortable to even discuss things or to ask questions or to try to understand, inside the Catholic church. And they have good reason to feel that way, because they could be “put out” by the Pope!
But it’s too common in Protestant churches also. Obama, by publicly ridiculing Christianity, has inadvertently made pastors feel way too powerful over their congregations. We definitely have a case of many pastors that “lord it over” their flocks these days, contra 1 Pet. 5:3. I think many are simply confused and feel like they have to preach along such lines. But, confused or not, I think it’s time to realize our error and seek to change.
If we as Christians are to be winsome to the world, we have to be friendly to the world. And to do so, we must be accepted and appreciated in our churches. The attitudes of exclusion have to be replaced with brotherly benevolence. The legalisms of the heart have to be replaced with the gracious way God views His true-born children. ESPECIALLY after an antichrist like Obama has made Christianity so unpopular.
Let us lay aside the insolence, and strive to respect one another – especially those who have taken it upon themselves to stand for what is true. We are an army, and we MUST have comradery. We must especially lift up the arms of the guys holding the standard, not decry them as “schismatics.” And that is a reference to Moses that is most suitable even in our dispensation of grace (Ex. 17:11)!
Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. 23 Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” – Isaiah 49:22-23, ESV
In this passage of the Bible, it speaks of how Gentiles (non-Jews) would show so much respect for the people of God, that they would help carry Jews back to their land, and would “lick” the dust of their feet, because they had so much honor towards a people chosen by God.
A troubling poll I saw showed that, out of a poll of 600 Muslim-Americans who planned to vote in the elections, 43% did not believe peoples of other faiths (including Christian) should have the right to witness to them! The Wenzel Strategies poll (as far as I can tell, it appears to be accurate) asked specifically whether “…U.S. citizens have a right to evangelize Muslims to consider other faiths.” Nearly half don’t believe we have a right to even share our faith with them? Well, quite frankly, don’t come here if you can’t show a little more respect than that! If you found America to be a desirous place to come to, it’s the height of disrespect to try to tell us we don’t have the right to follow the very laws that made our country great.
Our nation is far from perfect, but if it was great enough to attract you, if you think God has somewhat blessed the land, then it’s insane to do anything other than what this passage from Isaiah 49:22-23 teaches by principle, which is to show great respect towards those people, and towards their faith.
I understand that there is a lot of religious pressure on you, to go along with Islam. It may be that your whole family, most of your peers, etc., follow it. But at some point, you have to choose whether you want to be a person of integrity, and it simply is pathetic to come to America, and answer a private poll that you’d like to see Americans imprisoned simply for bothering your time slightly to peacefully share their religion with you. Nonsense like this can’t be permitted. America is quite generous towards all religions, but we expect just a tiny bit of generosity in exchange. Don’t act like it’s a such a bother to you for someone to share their faith with you that you want them imprisoned. And if the only way you can do that and be consistent is to leave Islam, then you need to leave Islam. If your religion teaches such utter lack of integrity that you are required to act like a jerk towards the very country you came to enjoy, then that religion is devilish and you need to make your exit. Or, prove me wrong, and show me that Islam can show some respect. Either way is fine, as long as you understand that 0% should answer a poll the way that 43% just did. This isn’t about religion – it’s about common decency, respect, and sanity.
Additionally, Mexican immigrants to America should show some respect for the country. If I was going to a country that I admired, I would want to learn that language, and I would show respect towards the people of that country. For that matter, I’ve even tried to learn some Spanish just to try to be friendly to those coming here! Disdainful arrogance, and utter lack of interest in the country, is simply not right. Not all Mexican immigrants are like that, certainly, but it’s becoming all-too-more-the-common.
I’m not asking immigrants to lick the dust off of our feet, but with some of the attitudes that have been expressed by some, it might not be a bad change of events if they willingly chose to do so!