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Thursday, October 15, 2020 : By Dr. David Brat
Dear brothers and sisters, we find ourselves in a time of war both spiritual and political, and faith is front and center in this war. How are we to respond?
The war was originally cast as a war between God Almighty, the Creator, and the Leviathan, the disruptor of all things. The good news is that the ancient Hebrews and the biblical texts make it clear that even the Leviathan is a plaything for God, and that God is ultimately in control of everything on earth. He created us to work in History to build His Kingdom on earth. We have often failed, but He is our constant Light.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. Today this war is being enjoined with very sophisticated ideologies and tools that are confusing and hard to comprehend for many outside of the Word. It has come down to a war between the Word and a bunch of words that are carefully crafted to confuse and propel panic all for one goal: power.
This is spiritual war but it is also most certainly a political war, as politics defines how we live with one another in the public square. Clausewitz taught the West that war is an extension of politics. The Marxists go further: politics is an extension of war. Everything is war. Christians and others who share our principles need to come together in the word and in truth and follow God‘s counsel as we move forward. Many more things unite us as believers than divide us as Christians. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Before we go to war with our brothers and sisters, we need to go to God. All sides will use God’s power and words as a pretext in this war. Some will be pious and petty, others pure. God’s word is the measure.
Romans 13 is the famous text to begin the political conversation. God states that every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God. If Christians who are not steeped in political history end the conversation with this text, some will conclude that there is a separation between their faith and politics. Just submit. Others will take the easy move to Gnosticism and emphasize the spiritual world to the detriment of God’s sovereignty over history. We have learned from these heresies in Church history.
But the story and its logic do not end here. For example, in Acts, when Peter and John were arrested by the authorities they responded, we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard…. And then they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, Lord, take note of their threats and grant that your bondservants may speak your word with all confidence. And then after having been placed in prison, an angel came and released them and when the authorities questioned them, Peter and the apostles answered, we must obey God rather than men. The apostles fearlessly continued to teach in defiance of the authorities and were willing to endure the political consequences. Paul would invoke his Roman citizenship and use his political standing to make the case for Christ. What does it mean for us today to obey God rather than men?
Today we live in a country which from its beginning declared that all people are equal because they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We are all created in the image of God and that great basic dignity exists and precedes anything that government may say or do.
In fact, in this new government, the authority is not a king, and the new sovereign is declared in law, by a constitution, to be the people. “We The People” are now the sovereign and this brings tremendous responsibilities for our actions in our homes, our places of employment, our houses of worship, and in the public square.
This did not just happen overnight. It is the consequence of over 3000 years of providence in the Judeo-Christian political tradition. God has always been political and the defining event in the Hebrew Scriptures is the Exodus, the liberation of God’s people from bondage and oppression. “And you shall tell your son on that day, saying: ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt’” (Ex. 13:8)
Therefore it is not surprising that 300 years after God’s clearest revelation through His own Son, the Lord, that the Roman empire would be ruled by a Christian leader, Constantine. Augustine would defend this ascension in the City of God. The great reformers would solidify this tradition by putting the soul of the individual before God alone, and the power of this political reformation would realign the political institutions of our world along the lines of Westphalia and the rise of the modern nation-state. Our world.
The enlightenment Christian theorists like James Madison, of Protestant Princeton, would enshrine this new individual with rights that would protect individuals from the state and from the overreach of any potential new claim to sovereignty. Checks and balances were institutionalized through three branches at the Federal level, and three levels of subsidiarity, implying that government at the local level, closest to the People, should lead. These are the moves that God’s word and logic have ordained in history and these moves have in turn delivered much of our world from bondage and oppression. Nothing in the history of the world comes close to the astonishing achievements of the Judeo-Christian tradition and the foundation it has laid, from the geopolitical stability of nation states since WWII to the care for the poorest of the poor around the world. In the past decades alone, billions have been lifted from poverty.
The Founders made one key mistake. They could not envision a world where the Judeo-Christian tradition would not serve as the moral foundation for the new country they designed. The Protestant Ethos was so strong that Harvard’s Motto in 1640 was Truth for Christ and Church. Today, Truth at Harvard is a language game via Wittgenstein that is used to facilitate modern Marxist deconstruction of Truth, and God, and likely Harvard itself. So now, “We The People”, the Sovereign, do not believe in Truth or God to the same degree and our culture wars clearly reflect this fact.
This new reality has emerged over the last 50 years and the goal of the opposition is to tear down this God and this tradition and the idea of a nation state and the rule of law and the idea that your inalienable rights come from God, as well as the idea that your family is ordained by God. Americans are an intrinsically positive people. We want to believe the best. However, our Christian intuition can be terribly naïve and gullible at times. Our inability to recognize Hitler early on is a clear example. As Churchill may have quipped, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”
Time to wake up. Woke is a fraud. God is real.
The new Woke political left has emerged from the ideology of Karl Marx and the communist logic which posits that there is no God and there are no human rights and that some small cadre of leaders can identify who is good and who is evil. Today the neo-Marxist logic uses identity politics and places people into buckets of those who are oppressed and those who are the oppressors. In this war, dialogue is not open to the public. If you differ with their power play, you are an oppressor and the consequences will be dire for you, your family, your business and your church. They will not come to you first as the Bible instructs. They will hang you publically in the press, the modern day guillotine.
In the Judeo Christian tradition, it took three chapters for humanity to fall and the rest of the story is one of redemption from sin, for all people have fallen far short of the of the glory of God. The Marxist leaders insist that you indeed are fallen but they are not, and so they take down statues of fallen men, but they can find no replacement. Similarly, they cannot tell you what will replace the Constitution, or our free economic system. Our religious, political and economic systems have done more to spread freedom and justice than any other system ever. Similar to the Bible’s powers and principalities, the modern Marxist powers seek to confuse and divide those who hold the highest ideals.
The left is highly united in this fight and they allow all comers as long as the goal of tearing the system down and acquiring power is the shared objective. Marxists deconstruct religion and institutions. Christians build and construct the Kingdom. Marxists are clearly winning at present. God has been exiled from our school system. Religion and history and the Founders and even ethics are no more. Schools teach that business is bad. And now, even businesses have joined in by paying hush money to remain safe from the leftist attacks. Violence is now spreading across many American cities and radicals wander the streets with guns, tearing down what has been built over centuries, with no consequence.
Are you OK with this? Where is the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ? As a citizen and part of the Sovereign in our great democracy, will you just stand by and utter phrases like separation of church and state? You are the church and the state. Or will you just throw up your hands because there are fallen people on all sides in every political party? God surely commands you to be perfect like your Father in heaven but when I review the great figures in the biblical narrative, I don’t see many standing on the sidelines. Instead I see many fallen and flawed sons and daughters who took up the fight and tried to be obedient and gave it their best as they tried to build up the kingdom of God on earth. And they did.
God told us to love him with our heart, soul and our minds. And so I would urge you to join the fight but make sure that you pick the right fight because that will make all of the difference. The fight is not about personalities or emotions or the latest headline. This fight is not on Twitter or your favorite blog. You need to choose sides and in my view you need to choose the side which glorifies God and protects His church and the traditions and institutions that protect our freedom to worship and to teach and to play our role as sovereigns in this government that is such a blessing to us today. God has created us in his very own image and given us minds to know his will through both general and revealed Truth and all of it is culminating in your decision to take part in this grand history of God, or to deny it.
The dark arts and their artists are clever and deceptive. Plato taught 2500 years ago to beware of Rhetoric. The Proverbs declare that Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. The clever politician will smile and talk about puppies and will talk about the general welfare and all that is good. But human good is not God’s good. If that clever politician will not invoke the name of God, and will not invoke God’s law, and will not promise in word and on paper to defend the Constitution and your rights, all of them, then that politician cannot possibly bear good fruit. They may promise you the world, for free. But if God’s Word is banished from our land, those promises will all fold and fade. The grass withers the flower fades but the Word of God is everlasting.
God wants us to have abundance. God has already delivered abundance to this land. To those who claim that all we need is faith, God says they have it wrong. God made the heavens and the earth, and commanded us to keep it good, just as He created it. That takes faith and work.
I will conclude with one practical lesson in politics. Conservatives and Liberals (not the Woke Left) typically divide on their interpretation of human nature. Conservatives along with most every notable philosopher and theologian in the West have argued theoretically and empirically for a very fallen nature. Liberals like J.F.K. would push the envelope and hoped that the growth of the Federal government would solve many human woes, from poverty to unemployment to education to law enforcement to foreign policy. Today, liberals are notably absent from any conversation about human rights and J.F.K.’s ideas would be ridiculed by the current Left in our country. He was pro-Catholic, pro-business, pro-tax cuts and pro-America.
The word Liberal interestingly comes from the root word Liberty. We all used to agree that we were free to disagree as long as basic rights were respected. Today, with the huge expansion of the Federal government and its awesome power and authority, the new Woke Left has made it clear that they are right, and if you disagree, you are wrong, and that they will use Government power to ensure their outcome. If your personal Liberty has to be sacrificed for their power goals, then you lose. This is new.
The astonishing new reality is that just when the Woke Left is screaming about Fascism and their fear of power on the right, they are the ones that want to enlarge the power of the Federal Leviathan. They are in charge of the largest information firms from Google to Twitter to Apple. They are currently banning free speech, the first amendment. They want to take your guns, the second amendment. They want to socialize healthcare which is one fifth of the economy. They want to further federalize education and make it free to all. That means control. Your free education will be their totalitarian tool. It will be total. One curriculum for all. One nation, not under God.
I will end as I began. The good news is that the ancient Hebrews and the biblical texts make it clear that even the Leviathan is a plaything for God, and that God is ultimately in control of everything on earth.
Why do the nations rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
God is in charge of the politics but you must discern God’s call on earth, and you must act. Choose Wisely.
You can view the Falkirk Center Podcast discussion with Pastor David Engelhardt on “wokeness” here: