09 August 2011

Sacralism and the state of things Part 4

High Places, apostasy, and no Reformation on the horizon...but it might be a good thing, if we reckon things as God does.

 TD Gordon, a man I respect and often agree with (though he might not reciprocate) spoke years ago about the fact that the cultural climate in Europe just prior to the Reformation helped usher in that era of reform. Now I don't get excited anymore about the Reformation, but I can appreciate his point. The revival of learning generated at the end of the Middle Ages and the new learning (both good and bad) brought about by the Renaissance helped prepare the way for the Reformation. People were reading books printed on the newly invented printing press, and there was a revival of interest in the classics and a desire to question the Medieval way of understanding things.

While we have new and exciting technological innovations in our day that seem to be conducive to an even greater period of learning and investigation...the reality is... it's not happening.

People (at least in America) seem to be more uninformed and undiscerning as ever. In another post I mentioned how I was startled to talk to a professing Christian college student who didn't even know what the Berlin Wall was, nor had ever heard of the Cold War. She knew all about the Casey Anthony trial but had never heard of the Iranian Revolution.

I run into this type of thing on a regular basis. People are easily led about when they know very little about history or the world around them. It happened on a large scale in 2002-2003 with the lead up to the Iraq War. It almost seems worse sometimes among those who profess Christ. Because not only do they not know about the history and issues...they're willful and prideful about it. Look at the politicians they praise. They seem to glory in their ignorance and in the fact that they're not sophisticated and intellectual. These are the leaders they want. The arguments and issues have to be framed in the most simplistic terms. But wait, don't we have an up and coming generation of Christian Intellectuals? Don't we have institutions like Patrick Henry College producing Christian thinkers for the next generation? If you look at the home school catalogs being put out by these organizations you'll quickly see...they're learning things, but they're not learning how to think. They're being taught an agenda and a party line and if they don't follow the programme they'll quickly be put out. They're not learning history, they're learning myth and memorizing a data bank to draw from, to help marshal their arguments.

On one level I am not optimistic. I really believe that my children will not have churches to attend....that is, 'church buildings' that are part of some institutionalized ecclesiastical structure. I think the Remnant will be meeting in homes. We may be already there in many parts of the United States and we certainly are in many parts of the world. Idolatry reigns in the Church often under the guise of Christian Worldview and with the word "Biblical" on their lips.

As I've said elsewhere, though such a state of things looks like defeat and is certainly reckoned so by those of a Sacralist mindset...it's not defeat. Not at all. It's never been about numbers and in fact thinking in those terms is dangerous.

We don't need to despair. We need to understand the Spiritual nature of the Kingdom and press on. It's not built by working on a campaign or donating money to a Political Action Committee. It's not about memorizing the Constitution, or collecting signatures for a petition. It's not about music or art, raising money to build a temple that will be mistakenly called a church.

We build the Kingdom through love, prayer, and the witness of our words and lives. Ultimately the Holy Spirit builds the Kingdom and God is glorified through weakness and seeming defeat. Sacralism can be brought down and defeated, but the Church cannot. Let them despair at the fall of their Christian Babel. We will not.

So what to do?

Do we want them to succeed in their Christian Babel project?

From the earliest of days, the Church, the people of God from Adam to now have been always tempted to wed the Holy Body to power and to make a name for themselves. This is a purely pagan impulse going back to Babel and before. It's pure worldliness...lust of the flesh, eyes, and the pride of life. It's no wonder that the Church has been tempted by this impulse. In fact we ought to expect it. In 1 John 2 where the Apostle talks about this...he speaks of Antichrist in the same breath. Not the Antichrist of the Left Behind fantasy books and Dispensational theology, but the Antichrist and antichrists who are governed by the world and not the Kingdom, those who overtly deny Christ and are opposed by faithful who turn away from their doctrine and what it offers and cling to the Holy Promise... the hope of eternal life......

Not their 'christ' which gives them the desires of their worldly hearts....the desires of their flesh such as power, the covetous greed of the eye, and the blasphemous pride and desire to aggrandize their achievements and defeat (in worldly terms and categories) all their foes....so they can be kings of the world.

This is the greatest threat. Again Luther (at least at first) recognized the Turk (the unbeliever) was less of a threat than the Pope (the representative of the false Christian system). Later, he changed his mind and called on the Christian Magistrate to wage war against the Turk.

And so if there's anything we are to do in terms of social and worldly concerns, if we have a social duty in terms of kingdom and in terms of helping to promote the peace of society, it's this....

Oppose these people.

Jim DeMint the PCA/Tea Party Senator and Michelle Bachman the Presidential candidate are far more dangerous than Barack Obama. Obama is just a lost person who nominally professes to be a Christian because it's politically necessary to do so....or so it seems. He's not trying to transform America into the Kingdom of God nor does he view the projection of American power as Kingdom Advancement. He like many other lost people are trying to do the best they can with what they have. Certainly there are many on the left who have their own vision of utopia, a messiah and a gospel. But Obama is evidently not one of these. As the months go by he's proven to be no leftist but a centrist at times even leaning right. He's a pragmatist. Yet once more, the multitudes were duped. They thought they were voting for change and they got more of the same. Obama himself may have believed it, only to discover there's very little he can actually do. So lost people act lost and try to do what the can. I think the Utopianism they are often accused of is actually an unfair charge. There's precious little of it in their rhetoric. Pragmatism seems to be the sum and substance of their hope. A Utopian society should be self-regulating, people who are true believers in whatever the vision is would hardly need a heavy hand to force them to comply. I don't think Left envisions such a day. Some on the Right seem to, certainly those of the Postmillennial stripe, but rather than people submitting to the Theonomic rule of their own volition, the Theonomic vision actually would call for more laws and a much harsher state that seeks to reproduce the Mosaic Code.

If the society were truly Christian rather than more laws, we would actually need less...because people would be living for the glory of God and motivated to love their neighbour. That day will come, a time of peace and love, a time without sin and thus in no need of law....it's called the New Heavens and the New Earth.

The Christian Right, the Tea Party and the myriad of people of who promote this agenda are promulgating a dangerous heresy. Their success is akin to the success of Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages......more suffering, more bloodshed, more confusion. If not now, then tomorrow. History has already told this tale.

Does that mean that we need to go out and vote against them? Maybe. Maybe there's no one to vote for, only someone to vote against. That's a decision I can't make for other people.

But I do know that it's getting more and more difficult to talk to 'christian' people. It's all rather confusing to people, because you're standing for the Scriptures and for what they teach...but then you're telling other Christians that they're mistaken...that yes, the vast majority of their leaders, in fact the whole mindset of the 'church' is wrong.

It's the same scenario the Waldensians and others encountered in the Middle Ages. Can you even imagine? They're suggesting that the Pope is not the head of the Church? The Roman Catholic Church is not the church at all? The whole Medieval order is not Christian....but antichrist?

It doesn't sound so difficult for us to see today, but to the people of that time...it would be like telling an Evangelical today that Dobson, Palin, Bush and all these people are actually agents of Satan.

Can you imagine?

With regard to the Waldensians and other Medieval Christians...from one perspective their numbers were small, on another level they gained quite a few adherents, certainly in the tens of thousands at times. Obviously we don't have hard numbers, they were an underground movement, but there are numerous testimonies which suggest some pretty impressive numbers.

Sacralists, even those that appreciate the Waldensians struggle with this because they weren't in the mainstream, they weren't 'building' the so-called Christian civilization of the Middle Ages.

That's right. They were opposing it. And yet...though the best known group was living in the Cottian Alps, the majority of them were living within Medieval society. Only those suffering harsh persecution resorted to the wilds of the mountains and forest. Many places were relatively safe for them and certainly as the Middle Ages progressed and more cosmopolitan cities like Venice were enlarged, these provided zones of toleration that the feudal manor did not afford.

But what of the glories of Christendom? The Cathedrals, the Universities, the Castles and Crusades? Could the Church possibly have been a suffering group on the fringe? Surely they were but part of the Church and the majority of God's people were in the Roman fold?

It must be remembered that Old Covenant Israel suffered from False Prophets and High Place Worship.

The False Prophets were rampant. They too spoke in the name of the LORD...or in Jehovah's name. They opposed the truth and tickled the ears of the kings and rulers. When the True Prophets pronounced doom and judgment for apostasy, the False Prophets promoted optimism and helped the court promote its agenda. They refused the Lord's true word, because they refused to submit to His chastising Providence and instead they proclaimed victory for the apostate land.

Even during the times when the apostasy seemed overwhelming, the kings were still employing Yahwistic onomastics......they included Jehovah in the naming of their sons...starting or ending with Jeh- or Yah-...showing there was still something more than a tacit acknowledgment of Israel's God, even though their lives did not reflect it. The religion of the Old Covenant was reduced to a veneer, a shell...to speak anachronistically they were outwardly a 'Christian' society but rotten within.

The High Places were locales were pagan rites were performed and time and time again we see the kings condemned for allowing them and praised for eradicating them. But many seem to miss these were not sites where merely Baal or Asherah were worshipped. Jehovah was worshipped at these sites and the worship of Jehovah was combined and blended with the Canaanite rites and rituals. This seductive tendency corrupted the true worship of God. No doubt some who attended there loved the Lord and stopped far short of the debauchery occurring at some sites, but the problem was...syncretism...mixing the True Faith with other ideas.....or as we would say today, mixing Christianity with other –isms, other worldviews.

Hezekiah was one of the few kings who destroyed these High Places and the Assyrian Rabshakeh mocked him insinuating that Jehovah would not help him since he destroyed Jehovah's High Places.

The Assyrian official was right, but didn't know that it pleased God that Hezekiah destroyed the High Places to Jehovah.

The New Covenant analogy is not a Christian Magistrate purging society of heresy. The context here is inter-covenantal. The analogy is the Church cleansing the Church of heresy. So many miss this when the appeal to Old Covenant Israel. We certainly can look back to Old Covenant Israel but we have to understand the Covenantal nature of the Theocracy. The modern state is not an Theocratic Kingship ruling over a Covenant people...the modern state is Moab, Rome, and Assyria.

Jeroboam, the first Northern king of the post-Solomonic schism erected shrines in Dan and Bethel....the worship was dedicated to Jehovah but not according to His commandment. Jeroboam incorporated both alien and innovative elements. He borrowed from paganism in employing the calves in addition to making up his own priesthood and liturgical calendar. The calves themselves were probably not worshipped but in the iconography of the period, the pagan gods are often depicted standing on the backs of bulls or other animals which served as sort of a nature-chariot. Jeroboam may have been employing this motif but knew better than to attempt to depict Jehovah. So it's as if he has the Invisible God astride the calves, but that alone, the innovative aspect, the supplemental aspect was enough to condemn it as idolatry.

It must be remembered these false prophets and their prophecies as well as the tendency to fall into idolatry were judgments from God. During the time of the Judges, the people would fall into idolatry and God would both judge with an oppressor and provide a way....through a divinely appointed ruler-judge.

Ah, someone might say, but those you condemn as false prophets aren't running around saying, all is well, or peace, peace, as we find in the Scriptures.

True, they're calling the church to wage war on behalf of the Sacralist Babel....which is what it is. A Tower of Babel....a supra-High Place. When Americanism is conflated with Christianity, you no longer have Christianity...you have a Syncretism....high place worship.....idolatry to be condemned. The kingdom might still be called Israel...but it's an idolatrous perversion...and before long Baal and other false gods are openly worshipped.

That was no less true during the 19th century which seems to be the period these folks love so much. And certainly in those days, their spiritual forefathers were running around saying 'peace,' for verily in the late 19th century.... Europe/Christendom was on top of the world. Virtually the entire planet was under the sway of some Western power. And then of course in 1914, their Proud Tower crumbled.

Their children are desperate to rebuild it and then 'peace, peace' will be declared once more. A peace that can only come with the Prince of Peace and the end of all things. This life will always be one of sorrowful joy and victory through weakness.

Rather than hope for the false peace they desire....

Let's hope they fail.

For their victory would be like Baasha or Jeroboam winning a victory over the Assyrians and then praising Jehovah with golden calves. Who cares? In fact it's just more confusion and muddle for those who are trying to be faithful, but fall prey to this confusion and lies and inadvertently slip into their idolatries.

We cannot look for victory in the way we would usually define it, and certainly not in the way they would. The message of Scripture, the glory of the Kingdom does not tickle the ear, it does not feed the ego, it does not spur to civilizational action. It's quiet, patient, humble....it does not run, it plods along as it were....but with full confidence and hope.

We won't win by anyone's reckoning (except God's) but part of our labour is to keep speaking the truth so they (the enemy dressed in deceptive white) doesn't win either. We can't fully stop them, but every time someone is rescued from this error...there is celebration in the Halls of the Kingdom.

They have the resources and the audience. They have people who can work full time producing and promoting material to aid their cause. They friends in high places who sometimes share their vision... and other times make use of them.

I wish I could research and write full time. I'd produce far more than I do and on a far wider range of topics...but alas it doesn't pay the bills. This is something I do when I can. I don't have the time to put in all the footnotes and endnotes that I wish I could, properly documenting the things I say. There's simply not enough hours in the day. I have to make a living and I have familial obligations. During the summer, the hours are often not there. Last summer I was bedridden for several weeks and that enabled me to produce a lot of material and quickly. This year is quite different. There don't seem to be enough hours in the day. My production will likely remain low for the duration of the summer, maybe into the fall.

I have material for probably another hundred articles without even having to think too hard. I have notes put together but I simply lack the time. I have many topics I haven't even touched on yet. If God is willing, in time, I will broach these subjects.

I'll repeat what I've said before. I don't expect anyone to agree with me 100%. It  would be foolish to expect that and I'm not sure it's even desirable. But it's exciting to me to think...if I can get other people thinking and they start talking and working at these things as well...maybe quite a vibrant resistance, a remnant can develop...something I painfully would like to see.

There are times this can prove frustrating but I remind myself I don't have to start a 'ministry' and take people's money...not that anyone would want to give me any (smile)....just to get my message across. Their tactics will aid them in their task of indoctrination and propaganda.

My message will never be popular...and that's okay. And so I don't need to kill myself writing about all these things. In God's time and when I'm able, I'll keep writing.

My apologies to those who have emailed and commented while I was absent from cyberspace for a couple of months. I will get to those shortly. I haven't been online much as of late and days go by without even checking the blog. I've been that busy. I am quite jealous of those who are able to sustain themselves doing what they love. I don't have that luxury, but there are advantages in what I do. I have time...not to write, but to think and listen. Precious indeed.

So rather than despair or grow frustrated I need to remember that it's always been like this. There have always been false prophets and Syncretism and there always will be. I'll never be able to keep up, answer all their arguments, respond to all their papers. I wish I could because I am grieved that they are deceiving so many people.

But it's from God. It is He who sends the strong delusion that they should believe the lie. I'll keep plodding along. He knows best. We just have to be faithful and confident there will be a few or perhaps more than a few rescued from the lies which in endless waves sweep over the Church to the point that sometimes...it's as if we can't see it anymore.