(The following post is the second installment of a three part excerpt from Stupid Elephant Tricks – The Other Progressive Party’s War on Christianity. You can read Part 1, Politics, Religion, and the Threat of Spontaneous Combustion, by clicking here, and Part 3, The Political Heresy of Christ’s Lordship, by clicking here. Since “context is everything”, it is suggested that anyone stumbling into this post first take a moment to read the first part before continuing on into this one. Thank you for your patience! ~ SAB)
TYRANTS, KINGS, AND THE KING
The tyrant would pretend to be what the true king is. Knowing that men are wonderfully attracted to and enamoured of virtue, he endeavors with much subtlety to make his vices appear yet masked with some shadow of virtue. But let him counterfeit ever so cunningly; the fox will still be known by his tail; and although he fawn and flatter like a spaniel, yet his snarling and grinning will always betray his currish kind. ~ Junius Brutus, A Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants (bold emphasis added)
Ever wondered why?
More specifically, why Christians supported the American revolution; a rebellion against their king?
Many answers are there to be found, if only we will look, though sometimes it seems as though we’d rather not, lest we fall under the same sense of obligation that must have swept over our founders “back in the day”. We don’t tend to want anything like that – an obligation that would shake our world so profoundly and require so much of us when we’d really just much rather take…it…easy.
Easy is what we do.
We’re Americans. We’re lazy, fat, and (at least pretend to be) happy about it.
That must change.
One helpful ingredient in promoting that change is an examination of elements from Junius Brutus’ A Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants, a work built around four vital, thought-provoking questions:
- Are Subjects required or even obligated to obey Princes if they command that which is against the Law of God?
- Is it lawful to resist a Prince who actively (or only passively) resist’s God’s Word and His Church?
- Is it lawful to resist a Prince who actively (or only passively) works to destroy the civil order and to what extent may the resistance be made?
- Are Princes permitted or required by God’s Law to give aid to the subjects of another Prince, if those people are afflicted because of their Christian faith or oppressed by obvious tyranny?
These are the questions that colonial American Christians were asking in the time leading up to the American Revolution. And the answers – the biblical answers – that they found to these questions were, in large part, what fueled their enthusiastic participation in the American Revolution.
We will be revisiting these long forgotten questions of A Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants here, and will aim to test modern American (and particularly Republican) ideas, ideals and leadership in light of the principles contained and advocated therein, but as the main thrust of this book is to inspire the serious, sincere pursuit of truth through the asking and contemplation of powerful questions such as these, we will be frequently dwelling on the mere necessity and beauty of the questions themselves.
The beauty of these questions and the truth-seeking, God-centered views that motivated their pursuit at the dawn of our nation’s history is something that’s been far too obscured for far too long.
When we are finally willing and able to, by God’s grace, ask these sorts of questions and seek their honest, accurate answers, no matter how challenging or hard those answers may be, we will have taken an early step toward a God-centered, God-glorifying path to true liberty’s defense…and we will finally be ready to have true, good, and godly patriotic conversations; the kinds of conversations that inspire all of the best, God-centered pursuits…and all of the best, God-centered revolutions.
OBEYING THE KING OF KINGS IN ALL THINGS
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. ~ Romans 13:1-5 (bold emphasis added)
If God commands one thing, and the king commands the contrary, who is that proud man that would term him a rebel who refuses to obey the king, when it means he must disobey God? But he should be condemned and held as truly rebellious who does not obey God, or who obeys the king when he forbids him to yield obedience to God. ~ Junius Brutus, A Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants (bold emphasis added)
As we ramp up and prepare to roll into these good questions and conversations, maintaining a God-centered perspective is essential. When we consider a thing – anything – our first and guiding goal should always be to discover and embrace the will of God.
This is our prize: To know and conform to the will of our Lord, wherever His truth takes us. However secularly non-pragmatic or unpopular or unreasonable the revealed will of God may be (and it will be all of these things to the world) we are to go there to the embrace of His truth and stand upon it, whatever the price.
What is a tyrant? What is tyranny? What is a Christian’s role in the opposition of tyranny and the defense of liberty? What is reasonable economic policy and what is the role of the state?
These are the questions that we must grow comfortable in asking, and the answers to these questions are to be openly (meaning, publically, whenever possible) sought first in the perfect, sufficient Word of God. Our comfort will grow into boldness in the best sense when we saturate our minds in the Word and grow in the otherwise impossible combination of personal humility and boldness in Christ that comes through the supernatural power of Scripture surging through the life of an obedient believer.
Yet even as we earnestly pursue this path of God-centered political contemplation through the study and application of His Word in our lives, we must remain vigilant in our defense against the many all-too-common and all-too-comfortable inclinations of our fallen and often silly little selves, including:
- The desire to pursue God’s truth first for America’s sake, or the economy’s sake, or the culture’s sake, or even for our own family’s sake. Each of these motivations, when they are primary in position, are plainly wrong, and must be acknowledged as such. The exaltation of any otherwise “good thing” above God is always sin; it is always idolatry.Idolatry always leads to pain and destruction, and as “The America Idol” is a specialty of the contemporary American Republican Party, we are well served to remember and remain guarded against this weakness. Every truth we seek and apply must first and always be done for the sake of honoring, obeying, and glorifying God. That is the only reason we should need (and must need) for doing, thinking, pursuing or even dreaming of anything.
- Our impulse to inappropriately mock or deride our opponents. The pull of this temptation and the sinful results permeate the modern American political scene. While humor is a gift from God and certainly has a role to play in even serious discussions of weighty matters, there is no place for excessively crude mockery of people of any persuasion, as they are all image bearers (albeit broken ones) of the living God whom we serve and adore.
- Our expectation that our personal obedience to our Lord in any political matter is going to guarantee any particular result or “usher in the Kingdom” right here and now. Our obedience to Christ in all things – including the political – is always to be pursued for the purpose of glorifying Him through our obedience itself, and that is all the reason that we should ever need for our obedience. Submission to Him is complete success. What He chooses to do or not do with our beautiful act of obedient submission is His business, not ours, just as what He chooses to do or not do with our faithful proclamation of the Gospel is His business where the salvation of those who hear that Gospel proclamation is concerned. He commands. We obey. That is all. And it is more than enough…infinitely more…
We should not “settle” for this perspective; we should celebrate it, as its foundation of faith in the perfect plan and timing of our completely sovereign Lord is a matchless comfort and encouragement.
So what we’re aiming for here, by God’s grace, is something that is literally impossible without that grace: A Christ-centered perspective and confidence to share incredibly unpopular (and therefore long abandoned and mostly forgotten) truth, and the personal humility with which to maintain the primacy of Christ in everything from our larger long term goals to our daily demeanor.
Christ is our Lord, and that lordship is total. As such, His will must come to define our every thought, political or otherwise.
When’s the last time you heard anything like that from a Republican seeking higher office?
When’s the last time you even heard that sort of conversation unfold in the presence of such a Republican…without them squirming or shrieking like startled little girls while running for the safe, secular hills?
If there is any cooperative future of note to be had between biblical Christians in America and the contemporary American Republican Party, this has to change. God’s expressed will and the pursuit of His glory must – as impossible as such a thing may seem at the moment – become the explicit, boldly, and openly proclaimed centerpiece of our political pursuits and policies.
…if you’re a slave to the secular – secular standards, secular goals, secular pragmatism and all the rest…
But if you are a slave to Christ, it’s the alternative that’s crazy – you know, the alternative view that currently defines American culture.
This is why we’re going to change the conversation in American politics. By God’s grace and for His glory, we’re going to proclaim His lordship and His Gospel at every opportunity. The world sees the pursuit of Christ in the politics as an improper imposition of God onto and into what man has worked oh so hard to set apart as his private, personal, self-serving little kingdom. As Christians, what we see in the political realm is another chance to proclaim His Gospel, advocate His truth, and glorify His nature through their explicit pursuit and proclamation at every opportunity.
After all, the pursuit of anything less on our part really would be crazy.
Or, to put a more appropriately positive spin on things, what would you like to look back on 100, 1,000, or 10,000 years from now – having passed on the opportunity to proclaim Christ’s lordship in the political realm or having seized that opportunity to glorify His name and nature through your faithfulness in the face of great challenge and personal sacrifice?
The formal theological term for such a question is: “No brainer”.
And with that perspective in hand, we are ready to consider those first goofy secular reactions that are bound to come our way when we actually engage the enemy, his ideas, and his pawns in the political realm.
The above piece is the second of a three part excerpt from the book Stupid Elephant Tricks – The Other Progressive Party’s War on Christianity.
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