by Al Benson Jr.
There seems to be a mindset in the evangelical community today, (though it’s not really new, it’s been there for 150 years) which, to me, seems like the great neutralizer of the church. It seems to be most prevalent in those you could wish would be more active and concerned, but are not. They seem to be possessed of the concept that if God is in control of all things, which He is, then there are some areas where believers just don’t need to get involved.
Should you become involved in one of these “forbidden” areas they will question you about any comments you happen to make. The question they usually start out with is “Do you believe God is in control of all things?” If you answer “yes” to that they will bombard you, almost immediately with the next question which will be “Then what are you so upset about?” The result of this is, in many cases, to shut down your complaint so you will feel a bit foolish trying to carry it any further, especially if you are in a group setting, and at that point, you are supposed to quietly bow out and allow the discussion to return to such important topics as “personal holiness.” Why discuss politics, education, the state of the culture or anything along those lines when you can just ignore all that and dwell on personal holiness? This somehow becomes the end-all of all discussion. It all amounts to personal holiness (pietism) and nothing else. I can’t count the times I have had this done to me and I am sure most of the folks that have done it were not real happy with me, because I refused to play the game and shut up.
Let me state here, before someone jumps up screaming, that I am not opposed to personal holiness. The Scriptures enjoin us to seek to live holy lives, to treat others as we would be treated, and, realizing we simply cannot do that in our own strength, we must admit that we need a Saviour who has already done all this perfectly for us and now sits at the right hand of God, Jesus, the God-man.
Along with this, at least for those of us in Reformed circles, there should come a certain outlook, a certain worldview if you will. Part of that worldview is that God is very concerned with what goes on here on earth and He wants His people to be concerned about it also. We are not just supposed to “get saved so we can go to Heaven” and that’s all there is. Since “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” I believe He wants us to be concerned about all areas of life–education, culture, art, music, –and the most dreaded of all for Christians–politics. God wants His people to be involved in what is happening in the world. He wants them to be concerned about it and He wants them to be knowledgeable about it. We are not just supposed to be so concerned with our own personal holiness that we let the world go to hell.
Many of our problems in this country today, along with our lack of repentance, are present just because Christians don’t want to be bothered. It’s really too much trouble to learn about a problem and why it exists, so why bother? If the Lord is in control, He’ll take care of it all, so I don’t need to do anything about it, or know anything about it. All I have to do is “trust God” and go on my merry way. Oh, there is one other thing I must do. Should someone come along that points out a particular problem, I need to try to keep their comments to a bare minimum so no one really gets shook up over this (especially me)!
The evangelical protests against any action at all run the gamut from “If God’s in control why worry about it” to “You’re not showing much love talking about all this stuff.” The idea being that if your were just a little more “loving” you would be content to give evil politicians or public school “change agents” a pass. The novel concept that Christians could also be “loving” by seeking to expose evil has never occurred to them, and probably won’t, as long as they can keep those who question what goes on quiet enough.
Many of these are the same folks that tell you that Romans 13 means that you must give unquestioning obedience to whatever government, at any level, wants to do. Government has the “authority” so you just cave in. After all, it’s what they do.The concept that governments are responsible to God, and that, under God, their authority is limited, is something that never seems to occur to them. It’s lots easier just to knuckle under than it is to find out what government has the legitimate authority to do or to require of you and what it does not. No one questions that where government performs its God-given functions it should be obeyed. I am not preaching anarchy here. But what’s to be done when government starts usurping functions it has no right to? That’s another question–and one many in the evangelical community would prefer not to have to deal with–so just do whatever they tell you to do and shut up–after all, it is the government. I wonder how many Christians realize that in taking such an attitude what they are doing is reauthorizing the “divine right of kings” (or presidents) to do whatever they want.
This mindset, carried to its logical conclusion in this country, would leave us still as subjects of Great Britain and that Christian patriot, Patrick Henry, would never have gotten to say “give me liberty or give me death.” Or better yet, would Martin Luther have even dared to nail up his 95 theses on the door of the cathedral? After all, the Pope might not have liked it. Once you allow any government, church government or civil government unrestrained power they will do whatever they want, no matter how evil, until they are resisted.
Our current regime tells us we are being forced to buy “health care” and it has performed, along with the regimes before it, many unconstitutional actions. The usual evangelical response to this is “God’s in control, so what are you upset about?”
The thought comes to mind that, possibly, God has allowed some of what has happened to occur in order to provoke a response from His people–repentance, yes, but also resistance to evil. And the response for most of the church today is still “Hey, the Lord’s in control, just don’t worry about any of this (and certainly don’t ever try to DO anything about any of it).” And some tend to look down their noses at you for being such a cretin as to even dare to bring up some of these things. You’re just supposed to be silent, cave in to tyranny, all the time seeking more “personal holiness.”
Another thing we (are supposed to learn) in Reformed circles is that God works in history and that He is often please to use “means” (people) to do some of what He wants done. You can ask, what would have happened to the kids in public schools in West Virginia 40 years ago if their parents had not risen up and fought the corrupt school system and the rotten books it tried to foist on the kids? Would those kids have been better off if their Christian parents had just practiced “personal piety” and said nothing about the horrible textbooks? You know the answer to that one.
What if the Lord decides to use people to upset evil politicians, corrupt “educators” and others who do what they shouldn’t? Oh, I know, we don’t discuss all that. That’s not a debatable topic. That might require getting involved and learning something new, and we’re not sure we’re ready for that, so throttle the one who makes such an absurd suggestion and let’s all get back to personal pietism.
Now you might think I sound a little ticked at some of my fellow believers for their almost total lack of response in areas I feel they ought to be concerned about. You’d probably be somewhat correct in that assumption. I’ve been listening to evangelical responses in some areas for almost four decades, and most of it boils down to “Why are you telling us about the current Marxist in the White House when, in love, we should just be ignoring what he is doing to the country and loving him?” I often wonder if many evangelicals have ever (probably not) come up with the possible thought that “loving” whoever the current occupant of the Oval Office is might just entail exposing some of what he is doing and calling him to repentance for it. And this doesn’t just apply to whoever is currently the president, or the governor, or the head of the local school board.
After all, they don’t call Washington “Sodom on the Potomac” for nothing, and the same thing could probably be said for a number of state capitals.
As long as we continue to play the “just love ’em and don’t get upset over anything” game, nothing will change. The country will be judged and go down the tubes and the church will be judged also. What about the possibility that the Lord would like a response from His people to what is happening, and He’s not getting it?