The Lord is in Control, So Don’t Worry (and above all, don’t DO anything)

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?

Evangelical Preachers And “Right Wing Stuff”

By Al Benson Jr.

You don’t tend to get what some call “right wing” preaching in most churches. I’ve been in some churches over the years where, in an attempt to stay “neutral” the preacher almost leans to the left. Of course the 501-C3 status of many churches only encourages that.

There seems to be a trend, in parts of the evangelical community, to want to embrace messages and personalities that lean left while looking down their noses and anything and anyone that is perceived leaning to the right. I recall, several years ago now, that Billy Graham made a statement that “the hard right has no interest in spiritual things” or something to that effect. Does Billy think the hard left has any interest in spiritual things? He never addressed that, and so, for many, the implication is there—distrust the right and leave the left alone.

I recall sitting in a church service several years ago  where they had a guest student preacher who was attending Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His sermon consisted of a number of strung-together left of center assumptions and he concluded it by playing a tape of part of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech.” Not wanting to disrupt a church service I sat in my chair and gritted my teeth, but I would dearly have loved to have gotten up and walked out and taken my family with me. I thought “If this is what they teach their seminary students at Calvin College then I wouldn’t let my dog attend there.” This kid was slightly to the right of Ho Chi Minh, but not by much.

Yet the congregation tolerated his sermon. To her credit, one lady talked to the guest preacher afterward and attempted to straighten out his socialistic concepts, but she was the only one.

Sometime later, in this same church, they had a guest preacher who came from a different persuasion. I don’t recall at this point what his sermon was specifically about but he did deal with the political situation in the country at that time and at a certain point in his sermon he said “I could quit at this point and be safe.” He did not do that however. He went on to name names of both people and groups that were taking the country in the wrong direction, one of them being the Council on Foreign Relations, and as he went along you could feel the tension mounting in the congregation. They sat through his sermon, which I thought was quite informative, but barely. As I was on the way out I shook the preacher’s hand and said “I agree with everything you said, but you didn’t make any friends here today.” One of the other church members, when he got out the door, said “I don’t need to listen to this right wing stuff.” No, you don’t “have” to listen to it, but maybe you should. The preacher was not trying to present “right wing” material to the congregation. All he was trying to do was to let them know about certain people and groups that affected their lives adversely  and that they, as Christians, should have been aware of, but weren’t, and apparently had no interest in being aware of.

This seems to be a major problem in some evangelical circles. Most evangelicals don’t seem to know their history and so when they go to deal with political issues they respond to the hot button issues promoted by liberals and socialists and they come down on the wrong side of most political questions and end up promoting a liberal, socialist line in the name of love and compassion. To a lesser degree they follow the rationale of the liberal National Council of Churches and end up supporting what can only be considered leftist causes because, somewhere along the line, they seem to have imbibed the “kool aid” that those on the left are really caring and compassionate while those on the right are all just fascists, and, not knowing history, they don’t even perceive how incorrect that is. Fascists are not on the right, they are over on the left along with the Communists. But don’t try to tell some of the evangelicals that—they ain’t buying it. They just know the fascists are part of the “hard right.” Hollywood says so!

There are definitely people on the “hard right” that have no interest in spiritual things, just like there are people on the hard left and in the middle that have no interest in spiritual things. So why do many evangelicals pick on those on the right and just ignore all the others? I’ve been privileged to know some preachers that don’t fit this mold and that don’t hesitate to call a spade a spade and to let the chips fall where they will. Unfortunately, such preachers are in the minority.

I fear, in some instances, there is a soft underbelly in parts of the evangelical community that leans to the left and leans quite hard in many cases. They don’t seem to grasp that the anti-Christ left is not their friend and that they ought to be opposed to the leftist agenda. Rather, they make common cause with much of it—in the name of “love.” Interesting though that their “love” seldom extends to those on the right. Maybe they ought to question why that is.

Evangelical “love” seldom extends to those that revere Southern history and Southern symbols such as Confederate flags. I once heard a well-intentioned evangelical say, regarding the Confederate flag “I hate that flag.” Why? Do you have any inclination whatever as to its real history? Probably not. You saw some KKK member or some skinhead with one sometime and that’s the only thing you associate it with. Evangelicals seldom bother to do the homework. Had they bothered, they would have found numerous photos of KKK rallies where the United States flag was carried in glorious abundance with nary a Confederate flag in sight. That’s if they bothered to do any looking. Many evangelicals don’t research, they respond to all the inflammatory rhetoric thrown in their faces by the anti-Christ theological and political left, and, having done no real homework, they come down on the wrong side of the issue.

Several years ago I went to a march in Washington where there were lots of Confederate flags along with other types of American flags (yes the Confederate flag IS an American flag) and, as we were living in New England at the time, some of the people on the bus I traveled on questioned whether Confederate flags were appropriate for such a gathering. I never forgot this. A little (short in stature but not in knowledge) lawyer from Uxbridge, Massachusetts stood up and told them flat out “That (Confederate) flag is a Christian flag” and he explained to them why. At that time I had not known anything about what he said. As time went on and I learned, I found that he was right on the money. It was and is, indeed, a Christian flag and it is seen in many places around the world, especially in Eastern Europe, as a symbol of resistance to oppression and tyranny. That’s not all that hard to figure out so why don’t more of the evangelicals get it? It has come to a pretty pass when Eastern Europeans know more about the history of the Confederate flag than Americans do.

Some evangelicals are concerned with racial prejudice in the South. Do they think that doesn’t exist in the North or never existed in the North? Come on folks, wake up. You are dreaming if you think that. You think the North never had Jim Crow laws? Do some homework! You’ve bought into the media lies about the South and its culture and you don’t have the wherewithal to look beyond that and find out for yourselves.

Most of those the revere Confederate symbols are not “racists.” That’s not where they are coming from. Many of them are Christians, just like you, only hopefully with a little more knowledge of history.

Until more evangelicals begin to learn how to do a little historical research and begin to learn some of the truth on their own this sad situation will continue and they will continue to look askance at those on the right while embracing the subtle anti-Christianity of many on the far left. Let us pray that the Lord will give them eyes to see and a willingness to exercise their vision.