The growing outrage over the unprecedented explosion of federal spending, proposed tax increases, expansion of government authority and blatant hypocrisy of all three branches of our federal government is certainly understandable.
Even the socialist/Democrats in Congress are becoming nervous about the rising tide of reaction to the unbridled, aggressive tentacles of Washington, D.C., reaching to the farthest corners of our lives, fortunes and sacred honor.
The “tea parties” birthed of this crisis and financial market commentator Rick Santelli’s viral launch against the inane financial policies of this administration are certainly commendable. Almost any time citizens finally get a clue and get involved is positive.
Unless, however, we are “tea’d off” for the wrong reasons and protesting against the wrong perpetrator.
I honestly do not think most pastors and practicing Christians still understand just who that perpetrator is, so I’ll include a quote I have referenced before. Listen to James Garfield in a nominating speech for John Sherman at the 1880 GOP National Convention that was so enthusiastically received he was substituted and received the nomination instead:
Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. … If the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.
Who then, are those who “represent the enterprise, the culture and the morality of the nation”? I suggest that would be we, the people of Christ who for decades bought further and further into the line that church and politics don’t mix, that we have no redemptive responsibility for our cities and nation, and we should not “waste our time” on such drivel.
The majority of the evangelical church tragically adopted what pastor and author John Chalfant calls “Abandonment Theology” led by “Abandonment Clergy.” We have not been losing because the forces of evil have somehow achieved superiority over God – we simply walked away and left the battlefield for the hearts and minds of God’s people to the enemy.
Rev. John Witherspoon, mentor to an astounding number of our Founding Fathers and statesmen of that era as president of Princeton, asserted that:
In free states where people have the supreme power in their own hands and must be consulted on all great matters, if there be general corruption of morals, there can be nothing but confusion … beyond a certain point even the best constitution will be ineffectual and slavery must ensue.
The men who handed to us the torch of liberty and freedom we now mourn as nearly lost clearly understood their foundations rested not upon an effective e-mail campaign, a dynamic lobbying effort or even simply electing the “right” people.
Those in both church and national leadership believed that this morality and virtue must be birthed in a knowledge of and reverence for God and His laws that are given life in a “reborn” individual by the redemptive work of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.
Can the liberties or the institutions dependent on those virtues prosper or exist as they decay and collapse?
No revolution, including the American War of Independence, nor even the Protestant Reformation, is entirely pure from defective motives or methods. Tea Parties, Underground Railroads, protest marches and prayer vigils like the one held last week in Houston, Texas, outside of Planned Parenthood’s national conference as they honored Hillary Clinton with the Margaret Sanger Award, are all worthy actions to shed light on tyranny, injustice and evil.
(On a side note, imagine if a conservative or Republican was given an award named after a person with direct linkage to eugenics, racism, the Ku Klux Klan and millions of deaths?)
The critical point for us to understand, however, is that we would be rejecting the tenets of our own faith and demanding the impossible if we do not turn our focus inward to the church, especially to the pulpits, and ask why we are not producing the same fruits of personal, cultural and political redemption as those of at least 1,800 years of our ancestors.
It was fascinating, and somewhat typical, that I received alarmed or even hostile responses from last week’s column in which I referenced what is accepted as the “Cultural Mandate” in Genesis described by D. James Kennedy. The fear of “dominion theology” espoused by some combined with the “abandonment theology” held by most has fostered an atmosphere in the church that results in paralysis.
The truth is that if pastors would simply restore the primacy of making disciples by thoroughly, systematically and intentionally imparting a comprehensive biblical exegesis and worldview in just a core of churches in this country, the resulting “shock and awe” of Christians humbly, lovingly and boldly changing our nation from the inside out and bottom up would register 15.0 on the cultural Richter scale.
Christ came not to be served but to serve, and in doing so created the model for our personal and corporate roles. What we must remember is that neither the first century followers of Christ nor the most influential Christians who came behind them took the escapist position, but assumed responsibility for both caring for the needy and standing against evil, injustice and tyranny.
When we take up our cross daily, die to self and follow Him (Matthew 16:24), we are given His power to be changed and to bring change. The order of the first is vital and the inclusion of the second is essential.
Have your tea parties, but let’s accept the challenge that to build and sustain the right change we must do it in the following order:
- Person – A true disciple
- Parent – Home and marriage must be strong
- Pulpit – Preach the Word
- Parish – Empower the church
- People – Influence the community
- Politics – Choose godly leaders to do justice and righteousness
When we are as tea’d off about the culture of death, demise of marriage and family, abuse and trafficking of women and children and general immorality as we are about our tax bill, our God just may respond and restore His blessings.