21 January 2012

Focus on Sacralist Jurisprudence 6

Consistent Application of Sacralist Law and Morality can only lead to one thing...

If something is morally right, and we believe it to be based on eternal spiritual principles, an ethic derived from Divine Revelation, we don't need to look to the state to validate or sanction what we're doing. This is true for both a non-Sacralist theory of resistance/antithesis and the Sacralist idea of social paradigm replacement and transformation.

For the non-Sacralist, the pilgrim ethic guides our daily life and interaction with the fallen society and its state. We're not trying to transform, we're not trying to get the institution on our side (though we are indeed after individuals within the system), and we don't want the state to aid us, because frankly it cannot. We simply want the state to provide security and order with as much freedom as possible so we can do what we're here to do.

For the Sacralists living in a non-Sacral setting, they believe they have a duty, a Divine imperative to change their present reality. Some cast this in terms of Reform...bringing the country or culture back to where it was before. Others would call it Transforming...arguing it either can't be brought back, or never was to begin with, so ultimately they're looking for a new paradigm. Though they sometimes frame the narrative differently, theologically they are more or less in agreement and thus often they work together, sharing many goals.  

Reformists or Reconstructionists might argue America needs to be brought back to its Christian heritage...how to do that and whether or not it would include structural changes is something that is debated. Transformationalists, would argue no, America never really was quite a Christian country. It was on a general path but was polluted with Democracy or a Centralized State, or perhaps even the Constitution was based on Enlightenment ideals instead of the Mosaic Law. There are many variations.

But for now, both camps agree on one thing...they want some sort of Sacral Christian America. To bring about their goals they will first need to replace the existing system and on that point they (despite some differences) can work together very effectively. If they actually won, well then you would see the differences come to the surface and if history is any precedent, the various camps would begin destroying each other.

Of course from the standpoint of the state, these activities and the theology producing them have the potential to become revolutionary, an overthrow of the status quo.

If I was a Sacralist I would be very frustrated with the hit and run, chip-away type tactics modern Evangelicals engage in. If you believe something is right...Divinely right...then stand for it...no matter the cost. If you're absolutely certain of something, it makes sense to act on it. If the law is wrong, as Mr. Mohler and others like him believe, then you're not bound by it. Sacralism can't be content to say...it's one of Babylon's laws...of course it's sinful, that's life in a fallen world.

It has to say, the law is sin and Babylon must become Zion...the sinful law cannot be tolerated.

Sacralism by definition is a theological paradigm committed to social transformation...regardless of how it is framed. It claims a mandate, a divine mandate. This is why the secular press reports on it with alarm. Rightly so. It is intrinsically revolutionary. It's not going to be content with some changes in society, or even going along with what the bulk of society wants...it is committed to overthrowing the social order. The way many in Evangelical circles try and evade this is by arguing the Constitution and legal framework support their Sacral vision. It is a Christian document. Thus they can argue they're not revolutionaries, but defenders, reformers recovering the true America.

Many at this point argue whether or not the Constitution is a Christian document. This is the wrong question. The correct question is...can a Constitution be a Christian document? If it purports to be this (which it patently does not) is that a claim we can theologically accept?

I answer no...and thus I understand Sacralism to be revolutionary and socially destabilizing...a very real threat to the peace and order we Biblical Christians want for the Church to fulfill its mission.

It's not a matter of...well I don't agree with them, but I don't mind if they win. Their victory will have consequences...bad ones if you look at history.

Claiming a Divine imperative that can negate the authority of the state will lead to political gridlock and ultimately conflict. This paradigm allows for no compromise, not even respect for the other side or any acknowledgement of their concerns or frameworks. In the United States, this isn't a coming threat...this is already becoming a reality.

Mohler and others don't want an armed revolution, an insurrection, but as the political climate continues to polarize and if we reach a time of civil unrest, there are bound to be more in their circles who will work out the argument I just suggested...the non-Sacral state has no authority...and they will take up the sword claiming they alone have the right to bear it.

If secular government is wrong...morally wrong...if it is wrong for a government to not acknowledge Christ as Lord and enshrine this in legal constitutional terms...then obeying that government would be sin. This is nothing new. The Scottish Covenanters and others have wrestled with these issues and there are many trying to push these ideas out into the mainstream.

Of course, I am completely against all this. But what I'm trying to say is...something that seems fairly innocuous like a lawsuit will continue to lead people to think through and work out these issues. And I argue in the end it comes down to the foundational issues of whether or not Sacralism itself is right or wrong. That's why I continue to revisit this topic every chance I get. This issue affects everything and unless this issue is addressed, all the other arguments are misplaced if not a waste of time.

If Sacralism (consistently thought out and applied) is right, then what secular government calls criminal or sin, can easily become no sin. The state will say you can't do this or that without a license...the Sacralist will answer, you don't have the authority to do that. The state will say it's wrong to evade taxes, the Sacralist will answer, it's wrong for me to pay them. The state will say it's wrong to break the law, the Sacralist will say, I have to.

I may not like licenses, laws, ordinances and so forth, but unless they cause me to sin, I am told by the New Testament to obey the law. Some states, some nations are better than others...I'm free to move, and if I'm not, then I'm called to patiently suffer the aggravation.

Sacralism attacks the authority base of the law and comes up with an extra-Biblical solution to the problem...effectively another gospel for the civil sphere.

There are 'christians' who see this...people like the late Paul Hill, who at one time had Reformed affiliations and was executed for killing an abortion doctor...terrorists like Eric Rudolph, as well as the many people refusing to pay taxes, get a driver's license and so forth. Depending on what circles you run in, you may have already heard many arguments along these lines. Sometimes when I'm around these people I wonder if I missed a whole book of the New Testament, because to them the most important Christian concerns are not ones I have ever found while reading the Bible. What Bible are they reading?

That we've come to this point makes sense. The Church has long wrestled with these issues and come up with several models over the centuries to try and solve the endless dilemma of the Christian State. Protestants in seeking to vindicate their 16th century revolution(s) developed the Lesser Magistrate idea...something still employed to defend the American Revolution against George III of England, and a concept many wish to resurrect in the near future.

Working within the framework of the secular state grants a certain moral validation to the state. Mohler might say the powers that be are ordained by God, and on that point he would be right...but it's no great leap for them to argue against that. Few of them are willing to say...Barack Obama was ordained by God to be president of the United States. They'll wiggle out of it by saying something like, He allowed it, but He didn't ordain it. Ordination implies sanction, a concept they happily appealed to when their man George W. Bush was in the White House. God put him there. God was with him...also implying sanction for his policies.

I would appeal as I often do to Isaiah 10. Assyria was ordained by Providence to build an empire of blood and crush Israel. But this at the same time can be said to be against the Revealed Will of God...Assyria was a prideful murderer of nations and peoples and was judged for it. Judas was ordained by Providence to betray Christ, but in doing so, he did it himself and violated the Revealed Will of God and betrayed the Messiah.

It takes a Dialectical understanding of theology to keep both concepts which a passage like that clearly teaches. It also reveals a God so powerful and beyond our grasp, a God who is Almighty, Holy, Sovereign, and so Wondrously Terrible and Awe-inspiring that I tremble for those who think He needs us to get a judge elected or that His plan will be thwarted by a bill being signed into law. If they do not understand this side of God, what do they truly understand of the depths of His Mercy, Grace, Forgiveness, and Love, and the wonder of the Holy Spirit's work in transforming us, causing us to live in both ages at the same time?


Anonymous said...

Hi Proto,

This is really a good series of articles.
When I first came to Christ, it was such a joy! God was changing me. Then, I started getting mixed up with certain blogs on the internet where I can now see these attitudes are prevalent. Couldn't at that time. (Not long ago)
Discernment ministries especially, and a particular creationist web site.
Anyway, these Christians were/are after changing the culture, and changing laws. I fell for the 'America was/needs to be a Christian nation again...blah, blah, blah, etc., which I honestly felt odd about, as well the 'culture' aspect, plus I'm not even American.
One notable trait I picked up on later, was a constant bad mood. They seemed to always be in a bad mood/always complaining. I started getting in a bad mood/complaining. They were condemning, I found myself starting that. And God's word tells us not to be like that. It's not the fruit of the Spirit. It was horrible. I was struggling and I had just not long been graciously saved. The whole joy of the Lord was disappearing.
But thanks be to the God because He pulled me out of it, showed me how wrong I am, how yucky I am, corrected me, helped me get back to the truth again. What a difference! The joy of Him and His word came back. It was humbling. How wrong I was and can be.
I think you're spot on. And thanks for helping me, and others I'm sure, to understand many of the things taking place out there that can draw us away from Christ and His Word, and what we ought to be doing.


Anonymous said...

Bless you, Lorena. I think the story you tell is familiar to a lot of us. We came to Christ and were so full of joy and love of His truth and then...got caught up in what I think is the Anti-Christ system.
It's just full of law and fear, ritual and show.

Welcome back to Christ and His Sabbath rest.
I had to laugh, though, when you said you weren't even from America and you still got caught up in the "America is the Christian nation thing". That's how powerful those people are, I guess.


Anonymous said...

Lisa, thanks!

"That's how powerful those people are, I guess."
Or, "I'm a dumb sheep just north of your border," in Ontario.

If a may explain, briefly, I spent over 20 wasted years in the former World Wide Church of God under Herbert W. Armstrong. Talk about legalistic. The headquarters were in Pasadena, CA., so there was a great deal of American influence already on the 'churches' here in Canada. (I did leave it)

Not long after being saved, I started searching, in all the wrong places, to learn more about God etc. I thought these Christians were right on, and followed what they said, like a dumb sheep! I forgot; I'm a sinner, all are sinners, (including them), only we are saved sinners, why am I pointing my finger at lost sinners, and who cares about politics, anyway. Very deceptive stuff. Totally my fault.


Protoprotestant said...

Thanks to both of you for your kind words. It's nice to know that not everything here is perceived as being negative. Serious sure, but there is hope. I don't want anyyone to lose sight of that.

I think it's always been this way...things a mess, the Church largely caught up in bad stuff.

Look at OT history...it was the same then and yet there are some bright and shining witnesses the jump off the page.

I just think it's so sad that so many people know things aren't right but they don't know where to go, where to turn....and it's real easy to get caught up in yet some other bad thing.

Sorry it took me so long to comment. I've had a very busy week and I haven't been on the computer much at all.