29 February 2012

A Strange Encounter Part 11

But here in America the lessons are not learned. The man on the bench still thinks Islamic Terrorism is the primary threat. He doesn't understand that his actions and those of his son are only making it worse.

Fear and social polarization have entered and overtaken the acculturated American Church. The Church now seems to function as a socio-political force rather than a manifestation of God's Kingdom. It's all jumbled and confused. As I'm often saying, watch the pronoun usage as you talk to people. The use of 'us' and 'we' is rather telling. One moment they're talking about America, the next moment the Church and no distinction is made...it all runs together. For Christo-Americans they represent the 'real' and 'true' America. Everyone else is an imposter or traitor.


This blending is what led medieval heresy to be labeled as political treason. It all goes together. Today if you're a Democrat or a liberal that identifies as a Christian, you're a heretic. Democrats and liberals are also viewed as treasonous.

It has never occurred to the 'man on the bench' that in fact he is the supreme traitor...not to America. He's bad for America but politically he’s not a traitor. The Founding Fathers and the drafters of the Constitution might view him as one, (and probably me too!) but debating that issue is probably a waste of time.

But he is a traitor to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. We don't imprison or execute. We leave the Judgment to Christ at the End. Instead what we are to do is break fellowship, put out of communion, cut off from the signs and seals of covenant participation, and deliver to Satan those who will not repent. (1 Corinthians 5, Matthew 18)

And cutting off may also from another perspective look like us...'coming out' from among them and not partaking of their sins.

We should alienate ourselves from such people out of love... with the hope that in knowing that Bible believers are rejecting them, that there are those rejecting them because they stand on the Bible...they might reconsider, repent and be restored.

But primarily it's for the purity of the Church and out of a zeal and love for God.

I pity the man on the bench, and I need to love him. But loving Christ far more I will not worship with him, identify with him in any kind of Christian sense, and I will not endorse or sanction his views.

He is a threat to the nation because he endorses and sanctions an Imperial System and militarism which have oppressed and murdered people all around the world. Just because some good is occasionally done does not negate the wickedness. His passive actions, his active acquiescence endangers American social stability...which from my perspective endangers the peace of Babylon where I live as an exile. My heart is not attached to Babylon but if it implodes and there's blood in the streets then it hinders the gospel...maybe just in the sense that it harms Christian families and love grows cold. I don't think we should want citizens or neighbours like him. 

He's a threat to the Church because he's a willing participant in idolatry...bringing idols into the Church, blending Christianity with pagan imperialism.

He's a threat to the Church because his son's death is transformed into holy martyrdom. The booklet he gave me contains several poems extolling the bravery and heroism of American soldiers and police, mixing these praises with Psalms and other Bible verses. While I’m sure it brings a tear to his eye, I find it to be sacrilege and quite dangerous.

He's a threat to the Church because he's a blasphemer, he's a blind man leading the blind who has sacrificed his son to Molech and thinks he does service for Christ.

These are harsh words, but is there a way to soften this? When we look at the state of things is this a time for soft or evasive rhetoric? I feel the hour is desperate and if I have to offend people to awaken them, it’s a risk I’ll take. We need to understand what this threat is to the Church...represented by a tearful father on mall bench.

Spiritually speaking, I'm afraid he's an enemy and though I want to protect the Church from people like him...I need to show love and compassion...humanity. I think we have a duty to try and gently show these people where they err. 2 Timothy says:

24  And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

26  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

But Titus 3 also says:

10  A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject;

11  Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

to be continued...




7 comments:

Cal said...

I'm going to add the qualifier you most likely agree with:

Heresy is not a doctrinal purity along some rigorous line but a generosity that allows many who differ on small things to be united commonly in Christ.

However, on the flipside, is it the same Messiah, or an imposter trying to take Jesus' holy name.

We (The Church) can disagree on the nature of Judgment, ecclesial polity, mode of baptism (maybe that's too much breadth for ya) but I like to think if we rally around Messiah, truly, we should and ought to worship together.

Obviously there are things that separate doctrinally (ex. divinity of Jesus, sovereignty of God, atonement in cross and resurrection, constitution of the Kingdom) and ethically (ex. racism, hatred, greed, sexual immorality).

Maybe I'm a less remnant minded as you.

My thoughts anyhow,
Cal

PS. Unrelated, but in terms of labels, I had a discussion over lunch with a couple of brothers and I was told I am a 'free-will calvinist', tongue in cheek of course. Thought you, and some of y'all on here, would laugh

Jim C. said...

Hey Proto,

I'm not sure if you've heard about this yet but in case you haven't here's the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc

I read about this in the news yesterday and it's about a filmmaker who's using mass media/grassroots social organization/social networking to bring down this militia/cult leader Joseph Kony. I admire his desire to see this man brought to justice and his child soldiers freed but as soon as he spoke positively about US military intervention (apparently the US sent 100 "military advisors" which I'm sure entails more than what we're led to believe) to help solve the problem, my "protoprotestant red flag" went up.

Hoping to read your thoughts on this,

Jim C.

Protoprotestant said...

I guess I would distinguish between error and heresy. Errors are incorrect doctrinal or practical positions which do not compromise the essentials of the gospel message. I’m not a Baptist, nor do I hold to many of their practical lifestyle distinctives. Yet if they’re preaching the gospel of grace, the Christ of Scripture…I can still recognize them as Christians and possibly even gather with them congregationally.
Heresy is over the line…when doctrine is embraced which sets up an idol instead of Christ or holds a position which will lead people to embrace a false hope of salvation.
Some of the things you list are errors…but others are definitely heresies. Someone that doesn’t believe Christ is Divine has rejected a pretty hefty portion of NT teaching and at least as far as the Apostles were concerned cannot understand the Gospel.
I don’t know if I’m more remnant minded or not. I’ve attended a wide array of Churches and can tolerate a lot….usually more than many of my equally theologically conservative associates would be willing to put up with. Generally though I find the spirit of faction…and the way factional forces won’t leave you be…they force you to participate and conform…that’s what often drives me out.
I do think we live in a time of apostasy. I do believe the Remnant is a major theme in Church history. I open up my local paper on Saturday morning and it lists a couple hundred congregations within a 1 hour driving range. There’s usually only 1 or 2 I would even consider attending.
I think doctrine is terribly important but I also think factional politics have perverted its true and right use. Many respond by discounting doctrine altogether. That’s a horrible and untenable suggestion. But I don’t think subscribing to precisionist confessional statements is the answer either.

Protoprotestant said...

Jim,

Yes I've heard about the YouTube video and of course the LRA has been a big story in Africa for a long time.

He's a monster but I also think our media is going to attempt to oversimplify a hyper-complicated mess.

US involvement is more part of the big geo-political chess game. It's just another 'footprint'...a means of power projection that deals with several issues. There's a big game going on in Africa right now that ties in with the global game.

If Kony is taken down, that's fantastic but it doesn't make America the 'good guys'. I think that's something people miss. Just because on occasion something good happens doesn't mean it was all part of a larger and often frankly wicked interest.

Interests are what drive nations, not moral causes or noble deeds. It's all in Machiavelli. His ideas are totally applicable today. He even talks about using 'moral' arguments to essentially sell your actions....do whatever you must to promote your interests.

A political science prof. might call me a cynic when it comes to geopolitics. Absolutely. I've read way too much to be anything else.

Africa is such a sad mess. It's not all their fault...but somewhat. It's not all colonialism's fault...but it has played a significant role in their misery.

Cal said...

Yep Proto, that's all I was trying to get across.

I don't know if I'm misunderstanding your understanding of me, but I made two separate categories of things to disagree on and things that are non-negotiables. I wasn't saying Messiah Jesus not being God is something to sit on the fence about.

Protoprotestant said...

Cal,

No I understood you. I was just expanding a bit.

The issue of non-negotiables is on the one hand pretty easy and clear...on the other hand it's problematic.

Who are we to say this or that issue isn't important? But, obviously love for the brethren and the application of wisdom requires us to draw some lines...and essentially create non-negotiables.

Historically when the Fundamentalists did this during the early part of the 20th century it led to a reductionistic view of Christianity. They almost became fearful of expaning into other areas of doctrine and seemed to really focus on those key points they labeled fundamental.

Given their context...the rising and overwhelming tide of theological downgrade, the abandonment of historic Christianity, it's almost understandable why they did what they did, but over time it had a bad effect and helped to create the anti-intellectualism of the modern American Evangelical.

I'm not suggesting either you or I are in danger of reductionistic formulations of Christian doctrine, but it's something I often think about when wrestling with the question of non-negotiables.

I guess, rather than completely abandon the idea of creating a rough list of 'fundamentals' I want to look at what happened and avoid their errors.

Even though those outside the Church would probably label me as a Fundamentalist (certainly a Biblicist) I've always wished to avoid the tag due to what I view as serious problems associated with the movement. Reformed and other groups have tried to emphasize Confessionalism, something that even when I was pretty diehard Reformed I could never fully embrace.

But I remember over in the UK getting raised eyebrows when I sought to eschew the label of Fundamentalist. It's still quite in use there, or at least was in the late 90's when I was last there. In use, in the sense that people who willingly embrace theology and maintained a degree of doctrinal sophistication still used it...while the same folks here in the United States would have been more keen to place a little distance between themselves and the label.

Of course here it also has social and political connotations, a bit different than the situation in the United Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

"We need to understand what this threat is to the Church...represented by a tearful father on mall bench.

I kind of feel sorry for the guy at this point, though I hate everything he stands for and agree that his mouth must be stopped figuratively speaking. To trade the life of your son and the true faith for some empty sense of patriotism.. truly such a man is to be pitied greatly. I find myself feeling crushed for this guy. I would still totally put him out of fellowship and rail against his false gospel of america though...

In Christ - Jim (fb)