Categories
church Church Life Communion conscience cross deception discernment faith following christ Gospel Government hearing Organized church Patriotism peace Politics Preachers Serving sin Truth Uncategorized understanding war

A Conspiracy of Silence

 

The 60’s era was a time when war and violence became personal. The images streaming in via television and magazine of cargo planes filled with body bags, F4 Phantom jets delivering payloads of napalm incinerating jungle and humans, B52 bombers converting landscape into moonscape, Cobra gunships pouring out lead like neon pencils delivering letters of death, Buddhist monks and nuns lighting up pagodas in the silent protest of self-immolation, Diem government officials carrying out public executions of Viet Cong leaders in downtown streets, small children running naked and burned from their villages, and soldiers trekking through rice paddies while others weep over dead and dying comrades.

 

 

Horror, disgust, and repugnance were part of every American’s daily diet. Everyone knew someone who was killed or who was wounded. And if that weren’t enough, there were the scandals of American soldiers killing without reason, and the assassinations: John, Bobby, and Martin; and the racial riots, and the drug induced mayhem of Manson, the anti-war protesters and the National Guard’s massacring Kent State students, and the generation gap that turned children against parents, and parents against children. We were a nation at war on every front, from within and from without. The disease became a plague and it raced through the land and touched every living person, leaving devastation, depression, and misery in its wake. We were a lost people who had had its fill of death and violence; then we grew up, and we forgot; then the silence; and it was, and is, deafening. The veterans reluctantly talk about the carnage, but chose to confine their memory to just a place and a time, dodging the details. They seem to cling to an occurrence, because it happened, and they couldn’t deny the fact; they live in a cage of lies that it was their duty: they were patriots after all, the war “just,” and the cause good. With this justification their consciences were exonerated and their sanity maintained.

Every musician and poet was a prophet regurgitating over and over the pain and suffering of the American people, till the sounds became nauseous, their disciples all stoned, and the prophets dearly departed. As the years passed-by we closed the book, and closed our minds, and the words of Santayana live on to haunt us; “ Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, and “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

Anyone who lived through this era knows the pain I speak of; there was lamentation, mourning, and sorrow in every corner of every community that just wouldn’t stop; and the thin veneer of patriotism could not hide the shame of what had just happened.

It is not for me to judge the rightness or wrongness of war; war will always be with us, and pain and suffering are its spirit and reward, profaning every heart and outraging every conscience. Contending, striving, laboring, competing, and troubling one’s self for the preeminence is at the root of war and discord, and lies at the foundation for every soul born of woman; it is selfishness from beginning to end.

I am not in agreement with most of the counterculture groups that have existed since that era or for the new groups that are arising; but they do demonstrate the seriousness with which people seek solutions for a better life. This period of time is not unlike the times during which the Anabaptist[i] appeared. It was a time of rebellion and non-conformity to tradition and authority, and it gave rise to debates and wars. It was during these troubling times that a peaceful people appeared introducing a forgotten Biblical model of brotherly love and community. These gentle people were persuaded by Scriptures that nationalism and patriotism was the works of evil and are hopelessly invested in aggression, war, and violence. Their vision of world peace was tempered by the reality of watching the world rush mindlessly toward self-destruction.

Today there are those, like the Anabaptist, who have a vision of a pilgrim Church; those who have grown up under false traditions, coercive institutional programs, and creeds of established Christendom, seeking to free their lives by a separation from this world. Just like the Anabaptist, these new pilgrims believe that the Bible is relevant to the instinctive flow of human history, and that it alone is the key to knowing how God intends mankind to relate to each other.

It was these believers who suffered at the hands of the Catholics and Protestants, who were burnt, drowned, and tortured for their Biblical stance of refusing to support the machinery of Church-state relations, and the power structures seen being formed across the continent. The spiritual battle that was waged was, for the Anabaptist, a direct assault against infringements on their liberty, conscience, and human dignity. Theirs was a true devotion for Christ and not for social reform, and their weapons were not of this world.

What is the Conspiracy of Silence?

The expression conspiracy of silence, or culture of silence, relates to a condition or matter which is known to exist, but by tacit communal unspoken consensus is not talked about or acknowledged. Commonly such matters are considered culturally shameful. Taboo subjects may be indirectly discussed via the use of politically correct code words, or euphemisms. (From Wikipedia)

Now, I could go on to expose the political machinery that propagates war, but I am not interested in that. Or, I could speak to the citizens who are the fuel that fires the machine, and try to shame them into acknowledging the hopelessness of sending their sons off as cannon-flodder to some foreign soil, but that is not the reason I am writing.

The conspiracy of which I speak is the muteness of the body of Christ to be the peaceful voice of their Lord, in a world gone mad with war and violence. The Church has lost its voice in its proclamation of peace at any cost, i.e. the cost of their own life, like Jesus, in the promotion of a nonviolent, nonresistant, walk of faith and trust in their Father.

Where do we hear that voice today? Have you heard it? Do we hear it from the “evangelicals?” They are way too busy talking the talk to walk the walk. All we hear is the sound of silence coming from the pulpits. The Amish, Mennonites, and Quakers have their voice but it is confined within the walls of their communities, and we only hear their voice by studying history books.

Although the teaching of Jesus nowhere endorses the support of politics or war, and proclaims loudly that Christians are not to actively engage in these matters, we hear nothing from our Churches, yet they call themselves evangelicals; evangelist preaching the truth.

It simply is not enough to just preach love and forgiveness; we must walk as He walked. We hear with unceasing regularity how much God loves us; the Devil himself knows how much love God has shown in our behalf; but that is not enough; we must walk as He walked. How did Jesus walk? He loved His enemies and forgave them while pinned to a cross, suspended above the earth, with nails holding Him tight, with agonizing pain shooting through the length of His body; while being displayed in humility to savage, gawking, human animals, He forgave them. Can you forgive your enemies, foreign or domestic? Will you vote for the guy who will destroy your enemies? When they destroy our people and knock down our buildings do we shake our fist and plead for revenge? If you do, you are in very good company, because nearly every pulpit across this great land is with you, and they hate, and vote, and plead their “just” cause to kill those who would kill them. That is fine; it is their choice, only don’t use the Bible or Jesus to support it, and don’t say you walk as He walked.

Why the Conspiracy of Silence?

Why is that part of Scripture that commands us to “love our enemies” to “turn the other cheek” and “to overcome evil with good”  is almost totally ignored by those who we pay to preach the whole council of God”?

Christians are today little different than what they were during the times of the Anabaptist in the 16th-century. You had the Protestant Christians of that era, and then there was the Radical Protestants, the Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites who are the descendants of those radicals. These radicals did not buy into the confessions of the Reformed Protestants of Calvin or the Lutheran Reformers, but held to a strict Sola Scriptura that disallowed infant baptism and active support of government, but also held that a Christian needs to repent of sins and live a life of close communion with God and fellow believers. Popular Christianity of the Reformation era, as it is today, believed that a simple confession of their belief was all that was needed to secure a place in Heaven. They also believed that there was a connection of Church and State and that Christians should actively be engaged in government and whatever that government promoted, even the killing of their enemies, i.e. the “just war.” These ideas, infant baptism and “just war,” were byproducts or appendages brought over from Rome. Just as the Catholics ambushed and defeated the Roman Empire so the Protestants believed, by way of Augustine, that Christianity should rule the government. This is not the way of Jesus, and only displays a severe lack of faith in the providence of God to initiate and control nations.

If we consider these things in the light of history, is it any wonder that we hear so little about non-involvement in government and non-resistance toward evil as a lifestyle? If we would only look at the New Testament, the life of Jesus, and the lives of the Apostles, would it not be obvious that there is indeed a conspiracy of silence surrounding these things. This conspiracy can be attributed to about six things:

  1.  Ignorance of the New Testament teaching of Jesus.
  2. The blind leading the blind. Ignorant pastors who have, in turn, followed  ignorant pastors and teachers.
  3.  Fear! Fear of believing and following, by faith, the clear teaching  of Jesus. It is easy to follow warmongers and politicians, all you have to do is throw your heart and mind into neutral and just be carried along with the tide. Just go with the flow and you don’t have to fear appearing dumb by asking earnest and serious questions. Most pastors have become unapproachable anyway, and enjoy a status akin to a high priest or archbishop and have put their ignorance beyond reach.
  4. Laziness. That repentance stuff is not for most people, it just requires too much religiosity and maintenance. I will just apply the tithe, take the speech, and then drown it all out with a little family time watching football.
  5. Disobedience. Disobedience closes the door to God and therefore to a correct understanding of the Bible. We think it is enough that our pastor is obedient and feeds his flock the proper diet. Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians that, “In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good” could apply to most Church services today.
  6. Time. We are creatures of habit. The law of inertia applies nicely to our situation. It takes a lot of effort to be a Christian, but it does get easier if applied consistently. For six hundred years we Americans have been fed a poor diet and we have become fat and lazy, and I am sure the Devil is impressed with our ability to do nothing in the face of truth. Time, in this regard, has not been our friend. But, with the earnestness of a sincere will and a heart softened by trials and suffering we can accomplish His will, and be rewarded with grace upon grace. Time is something we have to consider; our lives are short and Jesus will be returning soon, so don’t waste any of it.

Much of the unbelief in the world is due to this conspiracy of silence. Atheist and others say we do not believe our own Bible, and mock God because of us. Jonathan Dymond, almost 200 years ago, said it like this.

“What is the fact?  Muslims and Pagans (have seen our scriptures and) do not believe that our religion allows war.  They reproach us with the inconsistency.  Our wars are, with them, a scandal and a taunt.  ‘You preach to us,’ say they, ‘of Christianity, and would convert us to your creed. First convert yourselves; show us that you yourselves believe in it.’  No, the Jews at our own doors tell us that our wars are evidence that the Prince of Peace has not come.  They bring the violence of Christians to prove that Christ was a deceiver.  Thus do we cause evil to be spoken of the way of truth.  Thus are we, who should be the helpers of the world, its stumbling-blocks and its shame.  We, who should be lights to those who sit in darkness, cause them to love that darkness still.  Well may the Christian be ashamed for these things.  Well may he be ashamed for the reputation of his religion.  And he may be ashamed too, for the honored defender of the Christian faith who stands up, the advocate of blood, who invents subtle sophisms and searches over the fields of speculation to find an argument to convince us that we may murder one another!  This is the ‘wisdom of the world’ – that wisdom which is emphatically called FOOLISHNESS.”

Has the conspiracy of silence gained us anything? Has the effort of the Church to promote Reformed Theology and get Christians into government prevented any wars or saved any lives? Has abortion disappeared off the radar? The war to end all wars has never been fought, and never will. Does war yet hang on the horizon? And what about perversions, are we becoming more “moral?” Can Christian government really legislate morality? Wasn’t James Dobson’s Focus on the Family really off the narrow path, shouldn’t it have been focus on Christ and walk in His ways?

I do not believe that the conspiracy of silence will be broken by the institutional Church, but like the Anabaptist, it must be a grassroots movement. It has to be every individual adjusting his/her will to align with the will of the Father. When enough believers, “believe,” again, we will hear once again the proclamation from the world “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here.”

I pray that that time will be soon, maranatha, come Lord Jesus.

 


 

[i] It is important here to differentiate between the Anabaptist of yesteryear and their pacifist descendants, who have strayed from the “Old Order” Anabaptist stance of nonresistance and have taken on more of a social gospel doctrine. Also, I must make a distinction between what is being called the “Emerging Church” and the practice of the Anabaptist of the early reformation period. The Emerging Church, who are for the most part liberal pacifist, tend to close ranks with the liberal social gospel leanings of the newer Mennonite/Anabaptist practicing what is called non-violent pacifism, active non-violence, or active non-resistance. These types of non-conformist are really not anti-war in the strict sense of the word, but rather choose to simply fight a different kind of war, like “Occupy Wall Street.” Their active non-resistance wages a war of their own choosing that they have every intention of winning, through the use of protest, occupation, sit-ins, hunger strikes, marches, or any act that will draw attention to their cause and stimulate confusion. This is not Biblical, although they call their acts Christian. The Anabaptist, of the Reformation period, who laid their lives down for the Gospel were true Christians who literally followed Christ bearing their own cross, and refused to engage in violence, appeal to government, or to protest against wrongs received. They lived peaceable, productive lives, and obeyed the authorities without complaint, except when it went against the teachings of Jesus and His example. They had no intention of converting the whole world or forcing Christianity onto the unwilling masses of mankind, but rather to perform a mission, then go home to their own Country. It is very important to make these distinctions because the lines tend to get fuzzy unless a person knows his/her Bible and able to differentiate between the true and the false, light and darkness, what is of this world and what is from Heaven, and what is good and what is evil.

5 replies on “A Conspiracy of Silence”

I agree with what Steve is telling you, Mary, especially the part where he says, "discover the truth of God's will, then do it".
Jesus said the same thing, many times, yet there are many who will say, you only need to believe. If that were true, then repentance is not necessary, nor are good works. I suggest you look to Matthew 28:19-20 and see what Jesus commanded us to do.

The Catholic church has many sincere and goodhearted people in it, but they need to "seek" in order to find the truth. I always tell people that Jesus' comparison of the broad and narrow ways includes the condition that only those seeking the narrow gate will find it. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. There is no one else that intercedes or shows us to the Father's throne of grace, but Jesus the Son.

I really love reading all your posts and agree with you whole-heartedly. I was a very active Catholic who just recently realized that the Church does not resemble in any way the true teachings of Jesus so I have chosen not to participate in any services or parish life.  I was really distressed by the recent electoral process on so many levels, especially by the cowardice of the church hierarchy and priests to effectively speak out against the culture of death.  What do you think is the right course for Christians to follow to reverse the horror of legalized abortion?  It seems to me that the best course of action is to work to get Roe v. Wade reversed or an amendment to the Constitution.  I feel that if the pro-life movement would unify and work toward one common goal, with God's help, this could be done.  At least that is my fervent prayer.

Mary,

Thank you for your letter.

You have taken a brave and bold step by removing yourself from the Catholic Church and I commend you. There are many devout Christians within the Catholic Church who need to see what you have seen, but there is no one to show them; there is no one brave enough or bold enough to show them from Scripture and history that Rome has tricked them, or threatened them, into believing a lie. Most of these believers have inherited their religion from family members or married into a Catholic family and it has become an appendage that they just put up with. Not one-in-a-hundred of these believers know why they believe other than what the “Church” has told them. They cannot read the Bible with an open mind and simply believe what is written, they need someone to help them. I rarely tell anyone to leave their current Church; but rather I tell them to do the will of the Lord in boldly shining the light of truth into the darkness. This may or may not be the right thing for you to do, but you should consider those, your friends, who are still in bondage to Rome; truth will always prevail against the lie. The answer to all of our questions is to discover the truth of God’s will, then do it. There is no higher calling than to preach the Good News of freedom from ALL bondage, religious or otherwise.

You speak of the cowardice of the Church to speak out against the culture of death. Actually it was Pope John Paul II who popularized the term “culture of death” in Evangelium Vitae (April 1995). He speaks of it as the powerful against the weak, which would include abortion. The Pope speaks with influential words with the goal of the solidarity of all mankind within the Catholic Church. History shows clearly that the goal of this “solidarity” has been the cause of much death, instigated and promoted by Rome itself, to force all men into its clutches. The “culture of life” which they apply to themselves is not proven by ancient history or recent history. This culture of death is the brain child of the Devil, and the Catholic Church has been his favored protégé. But the Catholics are not alone in this culture of death; the Protestants are favored also and play and important part in the Devil’s plans, and abortion is only a tiny, minuscule, part in the plan. If you were to do Google search of the number of deaths directly associated to religion it would far exceed the number from all other causes. Christians on both sides of the aisle are caught-up in this culture of death. If you have read any of my other articles you will become aware that I too speak out against this “culture” but direct my readers to the Biblical fact that war is not supported by Scripture and is spoken against directly by Jesus Himself.

You ask about a course of action. There has always been only one course of action, and that is obedience to the will of God as revealed in His word. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” We can sacrifice much time and effort fighting abortion and get hung-up with political action and be in rebellion against God. By-all-means preach against abortion and every sin, separate yourself from the world, live a righteous life honoring God in everything you do, and you will find that God will be with you. “When a man’s way please the Lord, then He causes even his enemies to live at peace with him”. This is the answer for you, and it is the answer for me, and it is the answer for the American people, and the world. This is the only answer, and it has worked every time it has been tried, only man cannot keep his hands off the things of God.

I will be praying for you in the days to come. Give your life to Jesus and He promises that “When your will is to do the will of the Father, then you will know of the doctrine, whether it is of God or whether I speak as a man.”

In His service,

Steve Blackwell

Well written and could hardly agree more. I especially like the quote from Dymond. But, let's not get carried away with Mennonites and Amish. While they are simple and plain people, they are also quite proud of it and do not proselytize anyone. Their gospel is that people can decide to become a Christian at the age of 18 by being baptized into their church, but rarely before that. Quakers have, for all intents become political activists and not knowing the truth continue to prioritize the "inner voice" over God's written Word.
The fact is, as you say, that the American evangelical churches talk a talk that does not walk when it comes to separation of service to Christ from service to country. Did the Master not say, "You cannot serve two masters!"?
Most people today cannot come to terms with the idea that God in the Old testament was demonstrating the brokenness of the crown of His creation in commanding men to kill the old, the women , the children and even little babies.
And this only occurred after God had waited for centuries in some cases for the people to mend their ways. Indeed, the Israelites were told they waited in Egypt until the fulness of the sins of the nations possessing the Promised Land had been reached.
And while the Jews never "got" the message that they were NOT the only people of God, apparently most evangelicals still stumble over the truth today that Paul expressed, telling us that one is NOT a Jew who is one outwardly, but one who is circumcised in heart, a Jew in truth.
Once the prince of Peace came to earth, it was to show us a new way, a better way to reconcile ourselves to God and man. But, people just cannot reconcile the idea of the natural urge to "even things up" with the idea of not caring so much for ourselves as we must for others. A hard thing for anyone to learn, much less believe and obey.
I join you in saying, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

Hi Steve,

I agree that the Amish, Quakers, and the Mennonites have their own issues, as do we all, but they also have some very good characteristics of which I would like to give them credit. They live a disciplined life style that should be an encouragement to other Christians that a strict separation from the world is achievable. They have a rich history of perseverance against great odds which should also encourage us. They uphold the teachings of Jesus better than any other group I know of. They have a great desire to actually walk as Jesus walked, and do a pretty good job of it. They can show the Christian world what true community life is about and are not afraid of hard work. New Jersey was given the name of The Garden State because of the Amish and Mennonites. Their children are well behaved and have a great respect for God and their elders. They have a love for the ground and treat God’s creation very good and in most cases leave it in better shape than what they found it. It is easy for me to overlook their idiosyncratic ways; I have been blessed to know some Amish and do work for them; they are very fair and honest, with a few funny ways, but compared to my ways, theirs are to be preferred. Their are some Mennonite communities who are evangelistic and have an open door for any who would like to visit for short term or longer. As far as the social Gospel and government involvement, well, you know my position on that; but with the Amish and the Mennonites that is a more modern stance and historically they were in disagreement with Quaker views, but remained friendly.

Yes, Lord come,

Steve B.

Tell me what you're thinking