I have had the opportunity to speak on the topic of violence the last couple of Sundays. I endeavored to communicate that as far as the listeners sympathized with the spirit of violence that there exist a fault in their understanding of Christ’s mission and spirit. Violence is the same as committing murder. This idea of linking our thought life with the actual deed, although Biblical, will win very few friends and not a few stares. I look with astonishment on good men who are apathetic toward the violence of warfare or self-defense but I understand completely why a world, without Christ, would trust in violence to solve their problems, for them, it is a matter of necessity. In essence, there is no difference; Christians lacking faith are driven by necessity also. We hear a lot about the violence against Christians but not a word about the violence of Christians. Christianity has formed a massive fraternity of believers who promote and justify violence. Time is running out, we must get our theology correct. Are we really supposed to follow a sacrificial Lamb?
A View From the Wall
Can anyone read the news and not come across a headline that announces some act of violence somewhere in the world. Whether conflict between nations, civil wars, terrorism, or some mixture of both, the twenty-first century has seen no decrease in war, terrorism, and bloodshed. Why is this?
While some philosophers and academics have proclaimed that today’s world is actually more peaceful and less violent than in ages past, it would be difficult to argue against the numerous acts of sensational and purposeful violence.
Logic based on Biblical truth should provoke, and compel us to think more intensely about the human condition as we find it today, submerged in violence, both Christian and otherwise.
What we see passing for intelligent debate today is often just academic drivel. The Biblical boundaries of dialogue have collapsed to such a degree that we often find it difficult to entertain ideas that do not meet our presupposed conditions. Today’s discussions begin and end with symptoms and never identify the underlying root cause.
The militaristic and violent attitudes of many Christians today are shocking, to say the least. The words embarrassing, dangerous, ignorant, faithless, and worldly are some of the other terms that come to mind. But it is not only other “religious” people who have exhibited inclinations toward violence, it is Christian people also; but aren’t we supposed to have a deeper understanding and truth concerning the use of violence?
What I am trying to do is to bring a message, from outside of this world that can illuminate something that has gone missing and overlooked in our studies. My goal is to upset and challenge established assertions, and assumptions, and our customary ways of thinking and seeing. I want to be somewhat abnormal and make you uncomfortable and expose some hidden tension. I am not being systematic or constructive in my approach here, but more like a troubling critic, a little like the prophets of old who intentionally got underneath the skin of their listeners.
We Christians understand reality by accepting the simultaneous truths of seeming opposites and contradictions, paradoxes, and incongruities. This is a fundamental truth of the Bible and of the world. Jesus is divine and human, God is three and one, the state is Babylon and Jerusalem, you must become poor to be rich, die to live, and violence is necessary yet unacceptable.
These tensions do not resonate intellectually or rationally—the resolution or synchronizing has to happen in life, in being and in acting on the level of the spirit. In other words, we can live with the tensions of violence, theology, etc., but we cannot make them connect in the reality of our theories and explanations apart from the Spirit. I don’t care much about complex solutions and theories, but I do care about things pertaining to this present life at this moment in the context of these contradictions and paradoxes because there are simple answers. All of this will be unsatisfying to those who want something other than the simplicity Christ has to give. What I want to offer is a gift to your way of thinking and communicating; not as a last-word on the subject of violence, but as a valuable waypoint and boundary marker identifying God’s ways-and-means as distinctively His.
A Little Background History
The Church has a history, it moved from being pacifistic and non-resistant to evil during its first three hundred years, when Christianity was excluded from all worldly power and position to the period of the 4th to the 16th century of Augustine to Martin Luther, when the theologians approved the “just” use of force and violence to punish their own people, and “just wars,” against its enemies. We then move to the post-Reformation world which includes the supporters of both complete pacifism and non-violent resistance on the one hand, to the theology of revolution on the other, and everything in between.
Those who are looking for a Christian guide to support their use of violence try to balance a compromise between the demands of Christ and the necessity of violence in the world, to work out an agreeable resolve, and to stabilize all the conflicting factors that will hopefully produce a comfortable harmonious result. They relish the hope that the various elements involved can be brought into harmony. They conveniently forget that this is the world that has absolutely rejected Jesus Christ, that there can be no harmony between the values, the constitutions, or the peace efforts of this world and Christ.
The Reality of Disharmony
Now, here is the stumbling stone. The attempt to embrace and to integrate world and faith to each other is one mistake, but the attempt to separate them radically is another. If Christmas, the Incarnation, has any significance it can only be that God came into a most violent and disgusting place and that He did not, by his coming, either validate or change that place.
So, we too must stand at a distance, as Jesus did, from our society, its predispositions, susceptibilities, inclinations, and activities, but we must never break with it, because Christmas, the Incarnation, has taken place. We are instead invited by Christ to take part in an interaction, to be in the world but not of it, and thus to seek out a particular, a specifically Christian position. It is from this separated point of view that we must consider the problem of violence in our own lives and in the world, which is so evident today.
We need much more soundness in our understanding of violence. Violence is common to human history; it is found everywhere and at all times. This is the state of life outside Eden. Scripturally, biblical revelation shows the same thing: violence is of the order of the fall; from Cain killing Abel, to the world crucifying Jesus, to the apocalyptic conflict of Armageddon, violence is the common condition of all human history. Politically, all conditions are based on violence and there is no fundamental difference between the use of violence or force, they are both the leaven of the loaf called humanity.
Even as moral and Christian-influenced a nation as we suppose the USA to be, even our free market competition can represent a kind of economic violence and compulsion.
Violence is about forcing and attacking others, forcing their submission, dominating and imposing our will upon others. This can be done physically, of course, but it is still violence if the oppression is psychological, economic, ideological, or otherwise. It is the opposite of Biblical freedom.
Necessity of Violence
Violence is the natural condition of humanity; it is part of the nature of the fall. Violence in its various forms has nothing to do with freedom or its maintenance, but much to do with necessity. In other words, violence is a kind of trap that draws us into its snare and imposes itself on our lives, that pressures us to participate in it and continue it; this is not freedom, this is slavery.
But as hopeless and pessimistic as all of that sounds, the necessity of violence for the Christian individual is not the last word; we are not absolutely destined to be a fatality. It is possible to resist violence. It cannot be eliminated from a fallen world but it is possible to eliminate it from our lives. It is important to try to lessen its impacts, address and improve where possible, the conditions that generate it, and to heal and comfort those suffering from it. The world of violence will exist even if we do everything to resist it, but still, we are to overcome evil with good.
The views on violence can basically be summarized by the following main points:
1. Continuity: once you start using violence you get ensnared. It is like inertia, it will continue unless the opposing force of the Holy Spirit repels it.
2. Reciprocity: those who live by the sword will die by the sword; using violence against an enemy produces enemies intent on retaliation. You can’t put out fire with fire. We have killed enough of humanity in wars for peace to people fourteen of our planets yet there is no peace.
3. Sameness: all violence is the same, cut from the same cloth; it is impossible to distinguish justified and unjustified or liberating and enslaving violence; one kind leads to the others and involves the others.
4. Violence begets only violence and violence-corrupted ends: the means affect the character of the end. Violent means do not and cannot produce a peaceful end. At best the result is a kind of détente based on violence.
5. Justification: all users of violence try to justify it and themselves; but it is always a sign of the incapacitating ability of fear, and the inability to imagine or follow an alternative path, always from mixed motives that may include hatred, greed, etc.; in the life of a Christian it is hypocrisy.
If we get involved in any violence or coercion, we had better do so with our eyes open. If we don’t resist violence, violence is all we are left with.
Violence in the world of necessity is inescapable in any total sense. We are caught in it and there is no total escape from its impact. In practice most will find themselves in situations where they are cornered and cannot find another way out than violence, whether that is killing or injuring an attacker, trying to assassinate a tyrant, joining an army to hold back an invading force, or laying off some loyal employees before our company winds up in bankruptcy. We can’t find another way so we act in a violent/forceful way. It is understandable and even “condonable” in some cases. Violence can even have its own virtues within this world of necessity: it can bring about disorder, crush the lie, reveal a true situation, and expose the lie. So we can condone the violent revolts of at least some oppressed groups. But this is not holy or Christian nor is it just violence-for-violence-sake (which cannot be condoned)—but rather is an example of lost mankind yielding to necessity in a fallen world. The appropriate response is not “God sanctioned my killing him” but rather, “I just couldn’t find another way out so I had to kill him.”
But for Christians, we must not assume that what is natural is what is good or that what is necessary is legitimate. Christ came to shatter the false world of necessity and to introduce real freedom. Christ makes us free to struggle against the necessity for violence, to resist being defined by necessity. We must remember that where death is the final necessity, Christ broke the curse with His resurrection. Where society is stratified along rigid ethnic lines, Christ breaks that curse and exposes the lie by reconciliation. So it is the calling of Christians to resist and refuse violence and to introduce the Kingdom alternative, the way of real peace and freedom.
We must never sprinkle our wars and violence with holy water or blame what we do on God, or rely on the just-war tradition to explain why we acted as we did. Instead, we must confess that we are sinners caught up in a sinful world that dictates to us what is necessary.
What we need is “Christian radicalism” and the “violence of love.” In a world of necessity, the Christian calls for freedom. In a material world, the Christian calls for a spiritual warfare. In a world of realism, the Christian calls for the radical obedience of faith. In an unloving violent generation, he calls for the violence of love toward all men.
What Christ does for us is above all to make us free. But to have true freedom is to escape necessity or rather to be free to strive against necessity. Therefore, Christ’s prescription is to have only one line of action. He must oppose violence precisely because apart from Christ violence is the form that human relations normally and necessarily take. Either we accept the order of necessity, submit to and obey it . . . or else we accept the order of Christ, but then we must reject violence root and branch.
And mind, this means all kinds and ways of violence: psychological manipulation, economic imperialism, the venomous warfare of free competition and marketing, as well as torture, terrorism, police action and war. The business owner who abuses and exploits his workers is just as violent as the guerilla or terrorist; he must absolutely not boast of a Christian heritage, because what he is doing is of the nature of necessity, of sin, of separation from Christ; and even if he is a faithful churchgoer and a highly educated man there is no freedom in him. For him, it is “just business.”
What We Need
We need a renewed “Christian radicalism”: If the Christian is to resist violence he will have to be absolutely inflexible and narrow-minded, he will have to refuse to be appeased . . . Christian faith is radical, absolute like the very word of God, or else it is nothing. This does not mean withdrawal from the world or inaction or indifference but rather a full, living presence in a violent world, but with something specific and unique to offer. Because Christianity is the revelation of God in Christ, that action must be different, specific, and unique when seen alongside of political or corporate ways and means. It does not mean simply counseling the poor and the oppressed to be submissive, but it counsels us to be their voice, to make known their plight, and to stand for justice, not the progressive justice of the “social justice” advocates, but the justice of Love.
A basic theme of Scripture is the importance of the “watchman on the wall” who foresees distant, approaching events and warns the city. In an era absorbed in a storm of “breaking news” and current events, who will fill that role and watch with a greater depth of understanding for the approaching enemies? All too often it is when we are in the middle of a war or other conflict that people demand a vision, answers, and solutions; but by that time situations solidify and resistance is difficult. By that time the necessities of the flesh and the laws of violence have taken over completely. So one of the ways Christians can fulfill their role in society is to try to serve as the watchman on the wall to speak and act while situations and individuals are still pliable.
Rather than just providing news, analyses, and justifications for violent acts, followers of Christ should provide creative, constructive alternatives. Radical Christians should be playing the role of ambassador from Christ’s kingdom with its distinctive values displayed in their own lives. Helping their community to understand and see the humanity of the rival and enemy, even becoming the enemy’s voice and protector if our side somehow wins.
In the end, what can we make of this approach to violence? These things certainly challenge us to think again, more deeply and carefully, about our world and its violence and oppression. These points are important considerations in today’s world of violence committed on behalf of values that are claimed to be rooted in religious faith.
Theological reflection demands that we listen to the Word of God in obedience—without doctrinal presuppositions or systematic techniques. The Word of God has a voice if we have ears to hear and are willing to stand apart from religion hobbyist.
The social club that many people belong to, known as the “Church,” has a few unwritten rules. The top rule and most important to remember, if you want to keep your membership active, is to never touch on the sins of other members, even incidentally. It is quite okay to enumerate the sins of those who are outside the circle, but never, I say never, touch on the sins of the sanctified. It is okay to correct doctrine or to give insight on those kinds of things, but the Holy Grail of life in the trench, where that doctrine is applicable to everyday matters, where the rubber meets the road, like drinking alcohol, sex, and entertainment is taboo and off limits. The picture of purity must remain untarnished; the portrait of perfection must remain unmolested.
On the internet we never know the lifestyles of those we associate with unless that life is shared through personal pictures or word slips; we can only assume they are living the life they profess, and that they lead others to believe they live. Occasionally, we can get a glimpse of that life through certain reactions to posts that hit nerves and generate reactionary strikes. I know this is true because of my own reactions to disagreeable posts and those I have gotten from others who I have offended. I fully expect and mostly appreciate reactions concerning things dealing with the truth of Biblical doctrine, and I am proven wrong on occasions, and have had to tweak my understanding. Truthfully, I do even appreciate it when a post to the group causes uneasiness and shines light where I thought my sins were safely hidden.
The Prophets of old were constantly accused of bigotry, prejudice, intolerance, anger, and narrow-mindedness because they were unbiased in their message and pricked the tender consciences, and integrity of those who believed they were untouchable and enclosed in some impenetrable bubble of safety. Those inhabitants of such bubble societies, like the Pharisees who scorned the light of Christ, exist today in the Church and on the internet and are living nice untarnished and secluded lives, and raise their heads only when their sanctimonious self-satisfied lives are exposed to the heat of truth that touches them personally. All such things mentioned by the prophets, as living a pure life away from such things as the world deems necessary, are considered by the club to be legalistic and puritanical, and lack the freedom of use they suppose they have been granted in Christ. These people when confronted with such prophetic utterances of purity and plainness, simplicity and humility, loving their enemies and turning the other cheek, and putting away the sword and leaving vengeance to God, apply either of two favorite magical verses from the Bible: “I am in the world but not of the world,” or “Touch not God’s anointed.” With these two verse, and maybe some others, Christians are allowed to follow Christ in word only and not in deed; and this is the message that the whole world receives from the pulpit and from witnessing the lives of Christ’s followers.
You may be thinking, “Wow, what a way to end the year Steve, so vindictive, so mean-spirited.” No, this is only the beginning of a very turbulent year to come for all people, Christians too. When Christ came He came neither to change the world nor to legitimize it, He came to call the lost, who are engrossed in the world, to escape while there is still time. This is the day of salvation, all signs are pointing to the end of time, just as the Christian Bible has repeatedly spoken of.
When Christ came He came neither to change the world nor to legitimize it, He came to save souls, to call the lost who are engrossed in the world, to escape while there is still time, and to call out the slackers who use their freedom to indulge the world. This is the day of salvation, all signs are pointing to the end of time, just as the Christian Bible has repeatedly spoken of.
Christians are sleeping and the world is blind; what more can be said than has already been said. It is time to believe the writings of the Prophets.
To my Christian brothers and sisters: I have put two links here for you to read concerning your involvement with the things of this world, and at this particular season that would include politics and voting. There is a lot at stake, not with the leading of this country, but with the things we have filled our hearts with. Please take the time to read the articles and to weigh the consequences of making a wrong decision.
The primary Christian message in any age should be to respond to those things that are paramount at that particular time. In this era, that thing which is topmost, is violence: family violence, national violence, violence against the unborn, racial violence, and religious violence. The truth is that unregenerate man loves violence, his books, movies, sports, art, and conversations get their life by the commission of violence in one way or the other: destructive, emotional, expressive, or criminal. Violence is natural to the man of the world. To be a free-spirit in this world is to exercise your natural right to hate and violate, and God knows men are doing just that, more than ever in this age of violence.
This article is not really about those who are in this world and obey the law of their human nature, to obey that law is natural to them, and they can’t do otherwise. This article is about those who claim to be followers of Jesus yet live as free spirits of the flesh, those who have wedded themselves to the Lord yet prostitute themselves to another lover. Christian violence is not acceptable in any form. If a so-called Christian aligns himself or identifies with the world in his actions, then he is accepted by the world and is no Christian, regardless of his affiliations with the things of Christ or the ring on his finger. These alignments and identities include sports, television, and politics. The majority of Christians even boost of their pledged allegiance to the symbols of their own nation not understanding the simple words of Christ that we should not swear or pledge at all; nor do they understand that to whom they swear/pledge allegiance they are a slave to that master.
In the age of violence, the distinctive mark of the Christian should be the renunciation of violence and the exhibition of the nature of Christ through the offer of peace and a new life in the Spirit, the Spirit of Peace and Love. Even though this should be the distinctive attribute of the Christian it is at this exact point that the Church has miscarried. Having shifted their allegiance from the Christ of Peace to the world of patriotism, war, vengeance, and violence, they identify with the attributes of the god of this world and agree with Scripture that they are Christians in word only and not in deed. They have a form of godliness but lack the fruits. Christians have baptized violence on the altar of Christ and now call violence good and non-violence evil, again fulfilling the words of Jesus that in the end times good would become evil and evil good.
Everywhere I turn in the New Testament I find confirmation to the doctrine of non-resistance to evil. Paul in his writings confirms non-resistance in many places, but I never expected to find confirmation in his epistle of joy, the letter to the Philippians.
How many times do we do our devotional readings and go away not remembering a single thing about what was read? I have to admit that I have done that too many times, but I have also read Philippians slowly and consciously and still miss hidden treasures.
The Holy Spirit is the revealer of deep truth with the end result that we experience real love toward all men, even our enemies, which magnifies and glorifies God. Paul says in Philippians 1:9-11
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
If we are believers then He Himself, through His Holy Spirit will reveal to us deep things, as Paul again says in Ephesians 1:17-19:
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
Once I was enlightened to the doctrine of non-resistance to evil, nearly all of the difficult scriptures fell into place; the pieces of the puzzle came together into a beautiful pictures of joy and peace, with God and with man. I was not looking for confirmation to that doctrine, I had already accepted it, but what I wasn’t looking for presented itself like a flash of light. With the doctrine of non-resistance is attached another doctrine closely related to it, and that is the doctrine of non-involvement in the politics of this world. Politics and patriotism have nothing to do with Christianity at all, and Paul addresses the wrong spirit of many Christians in his letter to the Philippians.
“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love . . . . The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, . . . . But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” Phil. 1:17-19
The selfish ambition of worldly Christians shows up no better than when it is an election year, and especially this year. Their desire to make a Heaven on earth overrides any desire to live out the desire of Christ. Christ asks, “Why do you call Me Lord and do not do the things I command;” and with complete knowledge of this Scripture they pretend that they are doing exactly what Christ commands when they fight, kill, judge, and demand an earthly ruler to govern them. Paul speaking to true believers in Phil. 1:27 says:
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”
Those who wrap themselves in the flag do not have faith in God, but attempt to take matters into their own hands, not trusting a God who they cannot see; and again they pretend that God is pleased with their actions. Paul attempts to add some clarity for those who will listen and explains that Christ, Phil. 2:6-8,
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
This doesn’t sound like someone concerned with self-defense, suing for redress, advocating for a strong military, or voting for a president! His only recourse when He found Himself as a “man” was to humble Himself and submit His life into the hands of His Father, regardless of the scene being played out on the stage of this life. But, Paul continues in his epistle of joy to castigate false believers when he says in Phil. 2:19-21:
“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”
Human nature is 180º out of sync with the truth and always seeks what is best, for its own skin. Selfishness and self-preservation is the mark of fallen mankind and the beast that lives within him. Paul is not speaking to pagans here, he is speaking to the Church. Any Christian who looks out for #1 is no Christian, he is a false believer and a slave to the evil one. Could this be the “mark of the beast,” “ the number of man” “666,” that distinguishing mark that separates believer from un-believer? The mark of selfishness.
Paul continues with his words of caution in the midst of his words of JOY. He ends Chapter 3 with this note of watchfulness, Phil. 3:17-21.
“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model. . . . For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
Paul’s position was non-political and admonishes Christians to follow his example. Then he warns true believers that many so called believers are not believers at all, but rather he classifies them as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their lives are exemplified by holy talk and selfishness. Their actions support a life indistinguishable from those of the world. Their god is their own desires and their glory are those things of which they should be ashamed. Their minds are set on those things which can bring them the most comfort and safety and the preservation of their way of life. True believers know that they are wanders and strangers in this world and that they have no interest or regard for the institutions of this world; they have one citizenship ONLY and that is in Heaven, ruled by a powerful King who will at His appointed time bring everything under His control, with no election process. For all of those who believe this and have chosen to die to this world and its ruler, Satan, they will be rewarded with a transformation, a metamorphoses, from these lowly bodies of decaying flesh to glorious bodies that will never decay or die. All of this is based on the truth of the Christian religion, backed-up by miracles, prophecy, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unbeliever take notice, some day you will die, and forever regret your choice.
Pseudo-believer take notice, some day you too will die, and forever regret your choice.
We own chickens on our little homestead in Whitestown Indiana, white ones and red ones . We bought the hens as chicks and raised them all together as one happy family. As they matured the reds became bigger and more aggressive; eventually we had to separate them because they had blinded one of the smaller white ones. The order is always the same, the big against the little. The other day our roster , we call him Larry, mercilessly attacked the blinded white and sent her banging into lawn chairs and walls finally to just give up and allow herself to be brutalized, and possibly killed if I hadn’t intervened. I imagined that those bigger chickens felt proud in their ability to dominate and control their weaker members, it’s an animal thing.
In the lower “animal” nature we see this played out as, well, natural, but what about the higher animal nature of humans, is this justified? Can we simply fall back on the excuse of a “base” animal nature when we witness the larger in our society taking advantage of the smaller and weaker ? To bully means, to intimidate, cow, bulldoze, or browbeat or even kill. We have all heard of the latest bullying episodes where the victim is actually killed or commits suicide, and we cringe at such a beastly and criminal behavior that derives pleasure from such acts.
At the core of all human beings lay this base nature to dominate the weaker, smaller, or younger of our race. But, also at our core is another nature, a nature that is appalled at the dominating attitude of the bully and sides with the weak and defenseless. It is a dual nature where we are constantly admonished to repress the lower nature. The human animal is unique in this regard, a battle that wages within us, and that nature which is fed rises to dominance; this is true on a personal as well as on a social level.
Once a bully experiences power and victory he or she begins to build up a resistance to any agitation they may receive from an awakened conscience of right and wrong and ultimately becomes calloused, and will even become offended when confronted. The worst kinds of bullies are those who openly applaud and celebrate their corrupt and dishonorable character. Who isn’t glad when these unsocial menaces are restrained and put in their place? There is a sense of peace when the small and weak are protected and allowed to flourish and become strong and healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
Who is weaker or smaller than a child, and weaker still, than the unborn child. Bullies feed on the weak, and with that element of our humanness, who have yet to be born, it is , “out of sight out of mind.” Bullies give no amount of thought to the harm they inflict on these weak-ones; their very weakness is the justification given for their demise; they have become as nothing, and even less than nothing in the eyes of the bully.
We as a nation have become bullies toward those who cannot fight back, who have no voice, whose only crime against society is that they have not been born.
I hope this message will reach the ears of maybe only one person who will discern the inhuman cruelty of a society who sacrifices its young on the altar of modernity. On that society, there is most certainly a curse. I pity that society.
It never ceases to amaze me how supposedly intelligent Christians can so miss understanding Biblical prophecy; they have either missed it, they don’t care, or they are afraid. While Biblical end-times prophecy is unfolding like yesterday’s newspaper and foretells the very thing they are producing, they practice their religious hobbycraft in a cloud of delusion. It all seems so Stupefied and hopelessly inebriated when examined against the backdrop of what the Scriptures have to say to the contrary; and onward they stumble.
DRESS REHEARSAL FOR A FALSE REVIVAL? – Evangelical, Charismatic, Emerging Leaders, & Pope Francis Unite for “Together 2016” in Washington, DC
photo: from a still shot from video on Reset 2016 site; used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act
According to a news release from PRWire titled “Pope Francis To Address Americans At National Mall Event ’Together 2016’ With Special Video Message,” Pope Francis will be joining (via video) evangelical leaders such as Ravi Zacharias, Luis Palau, Michael W. Smith, and Josh McDowell, emerging-church leaders such as Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Jennie Allen (IF), and Mark Batterson (Circle Maker) and charismatic leaders such as Sammy Rodriguez and Hillsong for an event motivated by a goal to bring unity to all those who “love Jesus.” The event is called “Together 2016,” subtitled Fill the Mall.
Nick Hall, the organizer of the event who hopes to draw one million people to the National Mall onJuly 16th, stated: “Together 2016 is about laying aside what divides us to lift up Jesus who unites us.”1 Hall told one news source, “We are coming together in historic unity to pray for a reset for our nation.”2
It’s been over fifteen years since contemplative pioneer Richard Foster shared his vision of Catholics and evangelicals coming together3 and over two decades since Chuck Colson helped author a document titled “Evangelicals/Catholics Together.”4 It’s been over a decade since Rick Warren announced his hopes to bring about a second reformation that would include people of different religions.5 In more recent days, evangelical leaders such as Beth Moore,6 Franklin Graham,7 and Kenneth Copeland8 have played their parts in helping to remove the barriers between the evangelical/Protestant church and the Roman Catholic Church (something the Catholic Church calls the New Evangelization program9).
According to the Bible, we know a time is coming when a global one-world religion will serve alongside a global one-world government, both of which will reject Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Lord. Whether they realize it or not, the leaders and musicians participating in Together 2016 are helping to make that global religion a reality as they participate in this ongoing relay race of breaking down the walls that divide different faiths in the name of unity at all costs.
Right now, in America, evangelical and charismatic leaders are calling for a nation-wide revival. But will their revival be a revival from God; or will it be a false revival? And is Together 2016 nothing more than a dress rehearsal for this false revival?
For me, leaving the political arena, many years ago, was a hard won battle. I just felt sure that I needed to cast my vote to hold back the veil of darkness and to be a legitimate Christian, along with persuading many others to vote my way.
What I discovered was that the veil of darkness was over my own eyes and that it was God Himself who makes even our enemies to live at peace with us when our ways please Him, and not my vote, or marches on Washington, or letters to my congressman.
What I also discovered was that my pleading and prayers only witnessed the continual worsening of the already serious illness of unrepentant sin that our Nation has fallen into.
My vote equaled the abandoning to men and politics what God said only He would do. Will my vote, or the vote of many people change what God has determined for this country? If I don’t vote have I hindered God from exercising His will?
Isa 2:5-9 “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. Surely [Lord] You have rejected and forsaken your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled [with customs] from the east and with soothsayers [who foretell] like the Philistines; also they strike hands and make pledges and agreements with the children of aliens. [Deut 18:9-12.] Their land also is full of silver and gold; neither is there any end to their treasures. Their land is also full of horses; neither is there any end to their chariots. [Deut 17:14-17.] Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, what their own fingers have made. And the common man is bowed down [before idols], also the great man is brought low and humbles himself — therefore forgive them not [O Lord].” AMP
Do you think getting the right man in office is the cure for our nation? I don’t think you do. Our efforts have been futile in the past and they are futile now.
I would not break fellowship with someone desiring to vote, but I do think they are wrong.
As much as I would like to see the Lord’s Church repent and have their eyes opened I can’t see it happening on a large scale. Our Lord’s command to “come out from among them” includes even their involvement in the political process, even voting, and I am learning daily that it goes much further than I have even imagined.
There are many passages of Scripture that declare God’s anger with how the world governs. Ezekiel’s example, says plainly:
Ezek 22:23-29 “Again the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, say to the land, ‘You are a land that has had no rain or showers in the day of wrath.’ There is a conspiracy of her princes within her like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows within her. Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says’-when the LORD has not spoken. The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.” NIV
When are our eyes to see and our ears to hear? Ezekiel’s following words pronounce the judgment.
Ezek 22:30-31 “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.”
His words in the next passage, I believe, not only identify Samaria and Jerusalem but can identify twin religious daughters of a prostitute: the Catholic and Protestant churches.
Ezek 23:1-4 “The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother. They became prostitutes in Egypt, engaging in prostitution from their youth. In that land their breasts were fondled and their virgin bosoms caressed. The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.” NIV
Ezekiel’s following words are almost pornographic in there description of these two daughters (I will not quote them here), but they aptly envision the church of these modern times. These two daughter were clearly out to change the world by the power of their perverted religion, and cast their vote along what they thought was best for them, but only resulted in bringing judgment on themselves and their followers.
When Christians demand a king to rule over them God will oblige them, then they must eat the fruit of their decision.
The Prototype of the Pilgrims/Puritans
Jesus never addressed the idea of the colonization of other nations in any of His teachings. What Jesus spoke a lot about was how Christians were to treat and interact with other people. One of the simplest and most poignant of His commands is the “Golden Rule”, “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you” Matt. 7:12. This is the formula for all men everywhere. How was this command obeyed by the early English settlers? If you had a farm and some transients decide to set-up housekeeping on a part of your unoccupied land, how would you feel, and what would you do? Keep that in mind as you read.
In the founding of America there is no question that religion played a big part. We can debate whether or not the country was founded on Christian principles, and I would join in that debate, but there is no doubt that religious men and ideas were at the core of settling this country and forming the Constitution on which it is governed. With this article we will take a look at whether or not the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth were conscientious followers of Christ, and what other influences prompted their resolves.
For many hundreds of years, since the Reformation, men have debated the roles of faith and works in the areas of salvation and everyday decision making. Does faith translate into Godly action and good works, or does faith stand by itself as a psychological justification for our exploits? We will not debate the question here but we will see the results of two schools of thought played out in the lives of the Pilgrim Fathers and the later Quakers and Anabaptist; the end result being that real faith leads people to obey God’s word and not to mental gymnastics.
It is necessary that we get a picture of the religious landscape that was forming the sentiments of the new settlers coming to America. As I stated in the last article the Protestant Reformation was just beginning to come to a boil. It had been a mere twenty-five years since Columbus, a staunch Catholic, set out to “discover” the new world when Martin Luther, who is widely acknowledged to have started the Reformation, nailed his The Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Saxony in 1517. But, before Luther, as you will recall, the crusade against the Radical Reforming Waldensian people had already taken place. The Albigenses and Waldenses, for several centuries before the Reformation, and the Mennonites in the days of Luther and Calvin, professed a non-resistant doctrine, declared persecution to be contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the Gospel, and insisted on an entire separation of Church and State. The windows of the Age of Biblical Ignorance were opened, the Dark Ages was approaching its end with the word of Truth now being printed in the vernacular, and the Pope was being challenged on his dogmatic intolerance, sacramental magic, flim-flam dictatorial doctrine, and holy hustles.
The Protestant Reformation was underway, but not everyone was protesting to the same degree or reforming in the same way. If by Protestantism one means moral and religious self-sufficiency (being observed in the Renaissance-man) then the Anabaptist differed from the Pilgrim/Puritans in that they considered themselves totally in-sufficient and depended on the only-sufficiency of trust in the words of Jesus. If to take the New Testament literally is Protestantism, then as opposed to Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, the Anabaptists were the real Protestants. The “Protestant Reformation” of Calvin and Luther was more a question of power, order, and submission to the new heirs of Catholic imperialism and not a question of ‘evangelical purity’ or ‘correctness’ that separated the reformers from their persecuted and despised brethren, the Anabaptist. It is true that the orthodox reformers also professed to take the letter of the Scriptures as their guide and also claimed the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But they neither let it guide them straight nor took it as seriously as the Anabaptists; they did not allow themselves to be led by Scripture too far away from the interpretations and ideals of the ruling Protestant princes of Germany, or the military bourgeois in Switzerland; nor did they sever the mystical link of Catholicism completely. They were in fact, all unconsciously no doubt, yet completely and always, the expression of the sober-minded, reasonable, well-balanced national, rising middle-class religionist and Renaissance-man of the sixteenth century.
When we think of the religious liberty enjoyed by Americans today, be informed that it came not from the intolerant Puritan followers of Luther and Calvin, but from the Anabaptists, who procured full religious liberty and church-state separation. Our Pilgrim Fathers, being of the Reformed Puritan mindset, whipped and burned Quakers at the stake, cheated Indians, stole from their houses, amassed weapons, and built forts, not as an act of “faith and trust” in an unseen God, but as a good and reasonable thing to do under the circumstances. Our Anabaptist forefathers played a very important role in America’s democracy with religious liberty for all, but receive none of the credit.
We as a People do not need a Myth to prop us up as a Nation, what we need is the truth. If we can get past all the fabrications: national, scholastic, and religious, we can truly be a Free People who can learn to trust in a real living God who has promised His blessings to the obedient. The Pilgrim Fathers did have many good traits and strengths, that I doubt few would have today in a similar situation. Their faith, although misplaced, was not imaginary; their religious belief undergirded all that they did, but history books have not truthfully recorded what really occurred.
As Americans we like to believe that it is “In God We Trust” and that that attitude started with the Pilgrim Fathers. After Columbus’ debacle of doing everything all-wrong and that the Reformation having now set thing all-right we now have a Nation exemplifying the righteousness of our Godly Founders. The question now has to be asked, to what degree did the Pilgrim Fathers trust God? What does our true history really reveal when compared to the words of Jesus?
What was the General Policy of the English Toward the Indians?
The influence of “Calvinism” during this period of time along with the enrichment of England by the colonization of the New World justified all the rationale concerning the stealing of the land from the Indians in the minds of the Pilgrim Fathers. Native America was never so fortunate in its despicable state of savagery than on the day Sir George Peckham, an English merchant venturer, took it upon himself to explain to all of England how colonization of the Americas would benefit both sides of the Atlantic simultaneously. Peckham promoted his view in his “The Adventures of Colonization.”[i] Peckham creates a picture, for those who would venture to the New World, of savages and cannibals. “The Cannibals, being a cruel kind of people whose food is man’s flesh, and have teeth like dogs, and do pursue them with ravenous minds to eat their flesh, and devour them.”
With this conviction he makes a proclamation that would justify the colonizers taking the land and establishing colonies in a land already inhabited by the Indians. “But if after these good and fair means used, the Savages nevertheless will not be herewithall satisfied, but barbarously will go about to practise violence either in repelling the Christians from their Ports and safelandings, or in withstanding them afterwards to enjoy the rights for which both painfully and lawfully they have adventured themselves thither: Then in such a case I hold it no breach of equitie for the Christians to defend themselves, to pursue revenge with force, and to do whatsoever is necessary for the attaining of their safety: For it is allowable by all Laws in such distresses, to resist violence with violence: And for their more security to increase their strength by building of Forts for avoiding the extremity of injurious dealing.”
In this statement, of course, Peckham establishes the idea that the English have a legal right “For it is allowable by all Laws” to travel without restriction to America and to defend themselves by resisting “violence with violence” in any case where the natives engage in attempts to repel the European invasion of their homeland. Pursuing “revenge with force,” then, against any effort the natives take to defend themselves from the invasion, becomes the accepted standard of behavior for Europeans, a standard that was always perceived as perfectly legal and lawful from the invader’s point-of-view, where the natives themselves seemed to have had a different perception of the matter. One wonders, of course, precisely when and how the “good and fair means” of Christians with the natives turned so quickly and absolutely into a need to build “Forts for avoiding the extremity of injurious dealing,” how and why it got to that point in fact before any significant number of Englishmen even left Europe for the New World. Clearly, the idea that the “force of Arms” Peckham advocates for the purpose of defending defenseless natives from their cannibalistic neighbors, who in fact never existed except in the imaginations of the colonizers, was really meant as a necessary means of protecting the invaders from the violent rejection Peckham expected the natives to bring against his recruits for colonization.
John Cotton, the famous Puritan minister, weighs in with a similar argument that Christians have the right to settle in lands belonging to “savages” in his “The Divine Right to Occupy the Land.” “When He makes a country, though not altogether void of inhabitants, yet void in that place where they reside. Where there is a vacant place, there is liberty for the sons of Adam or Noah to come and inhabit, though they neither buy it nor ask their leaves. . . . So that it is free from that common grant for any to take possession of vacant countries. Indeed, no nation is to drive out another without special commission from Heaven, such as the Israelites had, unless the natives do unjustly wrong them, and will not recompense the wrongs done in a peaceable fort [way]. And then they may right themselves by lawful war and subdue the country unto them- selves. . .”[ii]
As a side note, this scenario is still being played out today. On Wednesday morning (January 6, 2016), Paiute tribal chairwoman Charlotte Rodrique stood before scores of people – including many of the 420-member tribe – at a press conference, saying that the Bundys and their gang were encroaching on land considered sacred to the Paiute people. “This land belonged to the Paiute people as wintering grounds long before the first settlers, ranchers and trappers ever arrived here,” Rodrique said, “We haven’t given up our rights to the land. We have protected sites there. We still use the land.” A long time before this incident occurred Teddy Roosevelt displays no lack of contempt for the Native Indian’s rights in his 1896, four volume book, “The Winning of the West.” He admits it was US policy to kill or conquer the Indians and take their land by any means available.
The War Inevitable.[iii]
In truth the war was unavoidable. The claims and desires of the two parties were irreconcilable. Treaties and truces were palliatives which did not touch the real underlying trouble. The white settlers were unflinchingly bent on seizing the land over which the Indians roamed but which they did not in any true sense own or occupy. In return the Indians were determined at all costs and hazards to keep the men of chain and compass, and of axe and rifle, and the forest-felling settlers who followed them, out of their vast and lonely hunting-grounds. Nothing but the actual shock of battle could decide the quarrel. The display of overmastering, overwhelming force might have cowed the Indians; but it was not possible for the United States, or for any European power, ever to exert or display such force far beyond the limits of the settled country. In consequence the warlike tribes were not then, and never have been since, quelled save by actual hard fighting, until they were overawed by the settlement of all the neighboring lands.
Nor was there any alternative to these Indian wars. It is idle folly to speak of them as being the fault of the United States Government; and it is even more idle to say that they could have been averted by treaty. Here and there, under exceptional circumstances or when a given tribe was feeble and unwarlike, the whites might gain the ground by a treaty entered into of their own free will by the Indians, without the least duress; but this was not possible with warlike and powerful tribes when once they realized that they were threatened with serious encroachment on their hunting-grounds. . . .No treaty could be satisfactory to the whites, no treaty served the needs of humanity and civilization, unless it gave the land to the Americans as unreservedly as any successful war.
Our Dealings with the Indians.
As a matter of fact, the lands we have won from the Indians have been won as much by treaty as by war; but it was almost always war, or else the menace and possibility of war, that secured the treaty.
“Might Makes Right” is a saying that is not only descriptive but prescriptive. Whether it is the might of physique, wealth, intelligence, national strength, conscious or unconscious matters not at all. For the English, pursuing land in the New World, it was nothing else than the prescription of a proud people to lay hold of something they felt they needed and deserved, but belonged to someone else. Stealing from their neighbor across the road was wrong, but stealing from an indigenous people in another world didn’t carry the same force of meaning or consequences. Although “Manifest Destiny” was not a term in use at the time of the Pilgrims, the idea was alive and well and provided all the authority of Heaven to proceed with a clean conscience. English Christians felt that they had the right to come to America and settle on any land that appeared to be vacant. If the Indians objected, which they would of course, then they were justified in annihilating them. This is what the English Christians were saying in more pleasant words, and later, brazenly by Teddy Roosevelt, and today, matter-of-factly by the U.S. Government and the Oregon militia squatting on Paiute Indian land. This attitude is as old as sin itself, and as old as the justification of that same sin, and Christians are not exempt. Sir George Peckham, John Cotton, the Jamestown settlers, the Pilgrims, and the Puritans all implemented the policies described by Teddy Roosevelt. Those policies guaranteed that the settlers and the Indians would not be able to co-exist in peace. Because of this policy one side or the other had to give in, and “Might” made the difference. The end result of this policy was no different than the results of the “Crusades,” genocide.
At the beginning of this article I said we would compare two schools of thought played out in the lives of the Pilgrim Fathers and the later Quakers and Anabaptist, but due to length I am going to cover the thought process of the Quakers and Anabaptist in the next article.
[i] George Peckham, The Advantage of Colonization, 1592, http://reocities.com/athens/delphi/9976/02peckham.html
[iii] Teddy Roosevelt, The Winning of the West, vol. II 1889-1896