A Pilgrim view
TODAY'S AMERICAN PURITANS ARE
'RISING UP' TO TAKE POLITICAL
ACTION FOR 'BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN VALUES'.
HAVE WE SEEN THESE PEOPLE BEFORE?
1. Puritan History, Past, Present and Future. An Introduction to this study. 2. John Winthrop and the Puritan dream of a shining 'city upon a hill'. 3. 'Manifest Destiny' is rooted in the Puritan dream of a 'nation under God'. 4. The Puritan belief in a 'Nation Under God' goes back to ancient Israel. 5. Gutenberg, Bibles and the Reformation bring in the Pilgrims and Puritans. 6. The Puritans rise up in the 1600's to dominate English Parliament. 7. The Puritan Army goes to battle against the king in the English Civil War. 8. The Puritan Army wears yellow ribbons and sashes in the English Civil War. 9. The Puritan Religion supports Parliament in the English Civil War. 10. Puritans vs. Pilgrims. Similarities and differences. 11. The Puritans in the New World and the signing of the Mayflower Compact. 12. Puritan belief and the American Revolution vs. the French Revolution. 13. America's Puritans today and the 'Religious Right' 14. The abortion issue and America's Puritans today 15. Today's Puritans and the expansion of America's global peacemaking role. 16. Today's American Puritans and the rise of Dominion Theology 17. Puritan belief and the future history of America.
American fundamentalists are a vibrant company of Christian believers. They also happen to be the most politically active church members this world has ever seen. Why is this so? And is this just a recent phenomenon?
As we trace the history of American fundamentalist Biblical Christians we soon realize that this inclination towards political and social action based on Biblical Christian faith is not a new phenomenon at all. It is a pattern of behavior that goes back at least 400 years. In fact the so-called 'Religious Right' can be spiritually discerned and traced back through history. They can be seen as an uninterrupted stream of people going all the way back to the Anglo-American Puritans.
The Puritans were a breed of Biblical Christians with a penchant for politically activity. They made their spiritual emergence during the Biblical revival of the 1500's. At that time they embraced the English Reformation with vigor. Then they went on to make their extraordinary political emergence in the early 1600's. The Puritans were in fact the movers and shakers in the English Parliament of that time. Their political emergence eventually led on into their military emergence. When the English Civil War erupted in the 1640's the Puritans were there right in the thick of it. In fact the Puritan Army was the heart and soul of the Army of Parliament. That war has also been called the Puritan Revolution. And the Puritan Army was right behind the ensuing Christian dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell. During this very same time period tens of thousands of Biblical Christians of both Puritan and Pilgrim dispositions had been making their passage on the high seas. They were migrating to the New World. This was truly an extraordinary period of history.
Are the American Puritans still with us today? And if they are, is it possible that they may in fact be represented by those politically active Christians we often hear referred to as the 'Religious Right'? This is one of the questions we shall attempt to answer in this 17 part series of articles on the Puritans.
The Puritans pursued their business in a very constrained and orderly way. But they were deadly serious about what they were doing under God. They put the king of England on trial and judged him as they would any citizen of the land. And they were not amenable to compromise or corruption. This sort of action against a ruling king was unheard of back in those days. The trial of King Charles before Parliament was pursued in a legal and orderly fashion. This was truly remarkable. Based on the facts they found him guilty of high treason. The king was sent to the 'bloody tower'. Later he went up to the axeman.
The execution of King Charles I at the hands of the Puritans sent shock waves throughout all the royal courts of Europe. These Puritans were men of principle as well as passion. They had a fiery zeal that was not to be underestimated. And they had the political persistence to see things through, if necessary, to the bitter end.
The thesis offered in this series of articles is simply this. The political Christian movement we see today and refer to as the 'Religious Right' is not a new phenomenon at all. The movement can be seen as a recent upsurge in a continuing stream of Biblical Christians. These politically active Christian conservatives can be traced back spiritually a good 500 years to the English Reformation. And they can be traced back politically 400 years to the Puritan takeover of English Parliament in the early 1600's.
Today we hear frequent derogatory references to "Puritanical moralism". These sentiments are smilingly intoned by members of the media serving the political left. "Puritan values" are usually presented as "old fashioned", even 'passe'. National Public Radio makes frequent references to America's the Puritan heritage. It seems that secular political commentators and historians would very much like to box up and squirrel away the Puritan ethic as quaint and dated "past history". But no matter how hard they try they cannot make these people go away. The Puritans are still there in our midst. They remain a vibrant part of the passing parade. They just keep marching on.
Christian conservatism in modern America can be shown to have strong roots. They reach down deep into America's earlier Puritan heritage. This is a reasonable conclusion based on the facts of history. Americans can study their past. They can discern the spirits at work today and in their earlier history. They can compare the Puritan movement of days gone by and compare it to the Christian Right we are seeing now. The Puritan presence today is quite obvious for those with eyes to see. The Puritan connection is also proven by the persisting heraldry of the yellow ribbons.
DISCERNING THE SPIRIT OF THE 'CHRISTIAN RIGHT' IN PAST PURITAN HISTORY.The Christian conservative activists we saw back in the 1600's were the Anglo-American Puritans. They were a very bright and vibrant company. They did not wear black. After all, they had come out of the Elizabethan era. Nor were they prune-faced moral legalists with a sour disposition as we have been led to believe. These people believed in the pursuit of happiness. In many cases they had been materially as well as spiritually blessed. Now they wanted their English nation to be blessed as well. The Puritans had some definite ideas as to where they thought the English Church should be going. They were given the name "Puritans" because of their stated desire to "purify" the English Church.
At that time the Church of England was King Henry's Church. He had broken with Rome in the early 1500's. But the English Church was still a medieval institution. It was, in fact, little more than a continuation of the Church of Rome under the new leadership of the English Crown. King Henry VIII had broken with Rome over his marriage to Anne Boleyn. And the King of England was now the official head of the Church of England. But with respect to church doctrine and practice little had changed. So when this new Biblical knowledge was injected into the English laity it caused a Christian revival. The English nation experienced a fresh upwelling of a very personal evangelical Christian faith.
The coming of the English Bible and the ensuing revival spawned two groups of English Biblical Christians. One group, famously called "Non-Conformists", were separatists. These came to be called Pilgrims. The other group was determined to work with the system and to change it. Their goal was to stay within the Church of England and to reform it. These were the people who came to be called the Puritans. They were bound and determined to usher the English Church and the English nation into a more enlightened Biblical Christianity.
The dynamic personal Christian faith of the Puritans made them the bright sparks in their day. Their personal faith brought them great energy and high hopes for the future. Christian believers were imbued with a fresh sense of personal responsibility before God and before their fellow man. So the Puritans stepped forward into the political arena in a very definite way. With the new-found sense of responsibility for their nation also came a new sense of political authority. So the Puritans did more than dream dreams. They set their goals and prepared to take action.
The Puritan mindset was very different from that of the typical English subject of the time. Their visions for the future were no longer bound by traditional expectations. And the vocations they dreamed about were no longer limited to the occupations of their fathers and grandfathers. The age of exploration was bringing the Puritans news of the New World. Upon hearing this their spirits soared. Their dreams now extended out not only beyond their village but beyond the shores of England as well. And during the early 1600's the Puritans began to take action in English Parliament. These were people who were a cut above the usual. They were able to think and move "outside the box". Soon they found themselves engaged in new areas of endeavor and enterprise their fathers had never dreamed about.
Pilgrim separatists were also coming on the scene as well. Here is a little known fact. Non-Conformists made up just 10% of the population. And yet fully one quarter of the new innovators of the Industrial Revolution were Non-Conformists. These were people who were energized in the new and more personal Biblical Christian faith. They were the leading innovators and enterprising citizens of their time. They were no longer content to live out their lives as peasants subservient to their lords. Nor were they content to see their new-found personal Christian faith limited by the medieval Church and the hierarchical Episcopal oversight of the bishops. Their personal faith back then, as now, was a powerful motivating force. It fostered a sense of personal responsibility and personal action before God and also before their fellow man.
THE PURITANS STEP INTO THE POLITICAL ARENA IN THE EARLY 1600's.It was the Puritans who stepped up into the political arena. As Biblical Christians the Puritans were more politically active than their Pilgrim friends. The Puritans were the ones who began to entertain hopes of personal advancement in Parliament. And as the feudal system faded away these Biblical reformers led Christendom forward into many new areas of discovery and enterprise. Life for the Puritan was always a 'grand adventure'. It still remains that way today.
The Puritans were a bright and hopeful company. These were people of vision. Many of them were also people of great personal ambition. Even back in the 1500's they had wanted to see their country established on Biblical Christianity. But progress here had been painfully slow. As the 1600's dawned the Puritans were a grieved and persecuted minority. The reforms they had hoped for had not been forthcoming. King James had authorized the New English Bible. But in the areas of church reform he had upheld the English Church hierarchy. Religious gatherings without episcopal covering of the established Church were still highly illegal. Many 'Non-Conformists' were being imprisoned and fined into financial ruin.
As the 1600's opened up the Puritans had had enough. The reforms they had hoped for were not forthcoming. So they took their appeals directly to the powers of the land. They presented their case very persuasively before Parliament and then before the king. During the turbulent 1640's Oliver Cromwell became a leading voice for reform of the English Church and for Parliamentary reform. But the medieval English church-state system remained unsympathetic. The monarchy and her church had the power. And so they upheld the status quo. They were simply not prepared to make any concessions to upstart Puritans. King Charles had little respect for those in Parliament whom he referred to as "cobblers and basket weavers". Time and time again the Puritans came away empty handed. But these were not people who gave up readily. The burning issues that lay heavily upon their hearts were not to be forgotten. The Puritans brought them to the table. One of them sounds strangely American. It was, "no taxation without the representation of the people". Soon the Puritan grievances against the king came to be addressed at a higher level, even in the crucible of war.
THE PURITANS RISE UP IN THE 1600'S
TO DOMINATE THE ENGLISH PARLIAMENT
This frame is from the video "Cromwell". Puritans were Biblical reformers who rose to prominence in English Parliament during the 1600's. Their power struggle with the king over the issue of "no taxation without representation" led on to the English Civil War. Were the English Puritans actually Americans in embryonic form? Here we see them stirring within the womb of England. They were calling for reform, and the establishment of a 'nation under God' based on Biblical Christianity.
The 1640's saw the Puritans rise up in English Parliament. These were men on a mission. They were out for change, not only in the Church of England but in the English government as well. Their war of words with the king, the royalists, and with the English Church hierarchy was sharp and unrelenting. Nevertheless their exchanges with the sovereign powers were civil by present day standards, quite gracious. These were the people who championed the order of Parliamentary politics. But the dialog with King Charles led nowhere. The Puritan Revolution finally erupted into the English Civil War.
This upheaval of the English people against sovereign power of English royalty was severe. Like all wars it was destructive of men and equipment on the battlefield. But as revolutions go it was an orderly one for the most part. The Puritan struggle did not give way to political mayhem or destroy the social structure of the land. It did not wreck the country as was seen during the Wars of the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland. The Puritans were respectful of individual rights and of property. And the Puritan Revolution upheld the Christian Church. It did not give way to anarchy in the streets as was seen in the French Revolution.
THE PURITAN ARMY TAKES UP ARMS FOR
GOD AND COUNTRY IN THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR.
This image is from the video "Cromwell". It reveals America forming within the womb of England 130 years before the actual birth of the nation in 1776. Here the Puritan Army goes to the Battle of Naseby singing hymns. John Bunyan, writer of Pilgrim's Progress, was with the Puritans in this decisive battle against the king. Note the cavalry officers in the Puritan Army wearing yellow ribbons and sashes and the banner 'In God We Trust'. Is this heraldry of the Puritans still with us today?
The Puritan Army went to war in good military order, raising the standard, "In God We Trust", displaying their yellow ribbons and singing hymns. Their Revolution was well controlled, as revolutions go. This was unprecedented in western history.
PURITAN ACTIVISM TODAYWhen we recognize the 'Religious Right' as today's Puritans it should come as no surprise to observe that these people are building up steam again just like they did four centuries ago. In the political arena they are becoming very powerful. Today's Puritans on the Religious Right are an aggrieved people, just as they were back in the 1600's. They perceive that they, (and their God), are being cut out of the national and public arena. The worsening moral crisis has them vexed and extremely angry about all this. They fear that unless things change the future of their dear nation is in jeopardy.
If these people of the Religious Right are the modern expression of Puritanism then their purpose has not changed. It is just the same as it always was. Today's Puritans desire to see their nation continue to flow in the blessings of God. Their energy and their zeal is to see America return to the virtue and 'Christian values' it once knew. This may or may not be possible to achieve through legislation. And sending money to buy airtime and to influence men in politics may not be the most holy way of attempting to change the destiny of a nation. But today's Puritans are certainly going to give it their best shot. The engagement of all this spiritual energy is turning them into a very powerful political voice in America today.
The Religious Right supported President Bush heavily during the last election. There has been much complaining and much whining about this by the liberal media. But let us not forget that the Ecumenical Left has always been quietly supporting the left wing liberal political party. Few complaints are voiced about this politico-religious activity.
Church-state politics has been around for 1700 years. It is a fact of life. This pattern will continue until Messiah comes and the Times of the Gentiles is fulfilled. At that time Messiah will head up both offices as High Priest and King according to the dual anointing s and authorities of the Order of Melchizedek. (Ps.110:4)
If the Puritans of today are indeed the Religious Right then they are becoming very active. During the run-up to the last election in 2004 there was lot of free-floating righteous indignation in the land about the moral tailspin in the media, the schools, and in the nation generally. There was a groundswell of Christian zeal. The brooding Puritans were rising up in anger over a number of critically important blood covenant issues. Oh yes, the Puritans of today have awoken from their slumbers. And just like they were in English Parliament 400 years ago they on the stick! These people mean business!
The election result in 2004 was no surprise really. There was nothing mysterious going on. Fundamentalist Christians have been losing their influence in the country. And they have become alarmed at the decline in "Christian values". The politicians on the right knew this. They had promised to help. The modern Puritans responded. They made their political deals. Then they got out the vote for their man.
The result was quite predictable. Their man won. And now, for today's American Puritans of the Religious Right, they are knocking at the door of the Republican Party. It is 'payback time' .
There is no question about it. Today's Puritans are on the move. Their political chips are out there on the board. They are gathering at the round tables and talking turkey. Political promises are being offered and politico-religious deals are being sealed. And now finally, today's Puritans are getting some respect at last.
The liberal sector on the left is quite perturbed about all this. But this is a reactionary religious storm that they themselves have stirred up. Their own elitist and militant paganism has been advancing as well. Sodomites have come out of the closet. They are demanding right to advance their agenda in the Boy Scouts and in the schools. This is what has particularly irritated and stirred up the Religious Right.
Now it is the liberals who are on the defensive for a change. Three powerful liberal news anchors have fallen by the wayside in late 2004 and early 2005. This turn of events is a serious blow for the left. And the liberal secularist powers have no one to blame but themselves.
THE SEVERE MORAL DECLINE IN AMERICAHow did this all happen? Since the foundation of the nation the Puritan fundamentalists and pagan secularists have lived together in a peaceful co-existence of sorts. Apparently they had agreed to disagree agreeably. As they became prosperous together it seems that they had an unwritten agreement to cut each other some slack. Each party had a vested interest in maintaining the national unity. It was a nice little accord or compromise. The agreement has allowed the nation to grow and to build with a measure of harmony and without any great spiritual discord or acrimony. The early Puritans had talked about 'saints' and 'strangers'. But they had eyed each other and tolerated each other.
AND THE GRIEVANCES OF TODAY'S PURITANS
Like Jacob and Esau within the womb of Rebbecca the Puritans and the secularists have nestled comfortably inside America. But with the approach of the time of travail things have begun to change. The crack in the Liberty Bell has begun to widen. And the Puritans of the Religious Right have begun to wrestle with the secularists and laissez-faire humanists on the left. The "saints and the strangers" are now stirring and have begun to struggle with each other. The spiritual war going on over ideology and over the role of Christian devotion in the institutions of the land has started to heat up. The culture war is also going on in earnest. There has been much new discussion over such issues as abortion, prayer in schools, and 'creation versus evolution'.
American public schools in former times have been among the best in the world. But recent years have seen falling SAT scores especially in mathematics and in English. Some years back there was a crisis when parents discovered that "Johnny can't read".
This is not all. Parents have seen the descent of our children into a form of pagan or jungle life. Christian values and the Christian graces have gone out the window. Occasionally guns cut loose in the schools and our children die. And yet when these things happen there is still no national call for a change of heart or any evidence of repentance. When these horrific genocidal acts occur there are just armies of humanist "counselors" rushed to the school. Spiritual realities of any substance are of course barred from discussion. Some would say that the pagan jungle classroom isn't all that bad. There just needs to be more "communication", (whatever that is supposed to mean). Many just shake their heads and mouth a few platitudes. School authorities and their communities just don't seem to care about looking any deeper into the matter. Are the schools just another part of the animal kingdom? Are we just seeing the "natural order" of things. Is this monstrous behavior just another example of 'survival of the fittest'? If this is so then Darwin would be proud. It is in these areas that today's Puritans on the Religious Right are steaming with anger.
Puritans are grieved about the moral decline in other areas as well. The emergence of a bold and blatant homosexuality in western society has been especially troubling. Sodomy has come out of the closet. Now this evil spirit is forcing its way into the Boy Scouts. It has been in the church vestry for some time it seems. Then, of course, there is the abortion issue.
Meanwhile, secularists have also become more bold. They are even 'intolerant'. Many don't want to see any demonstration of Judeo-Christian faith whatsoever in public life. Christianity, in essence, has been locked out of the schools. And the Judeo-Christian God, YHVH/Jesus Christ, has been barred from public life in America.
Today's Puritans are chafing under these constraints. They are being told, in effect, to "check you Christianity at the door". Secular humanism, on the other hand, has established itself is the "normal" value system of the land. Paganism and atheism has in effect declared itself the guardians of "freedom" and the rightful owners of American public life. Christians are being ordered to keep their Christianity limited to their own church services. Anything that secularists decide is "religion" is to be locked up inside the church walls and preferably time limited to a little space between 11 a.m. and 12 noon on a Sunday.
Secular humanists, pagans and Sodomites claim to be free swinging people where "anything goes". But when it comes to any expression of the faith or values of the Judeo-Christian this is suddenly "taboo". They are the real hard-liners here. These freethinkers on the left have sown the wind. Not surprisingly they are beginning to reap the whirlwind. Today's American Puritans on the Religious Right have begun to stir. The footsteps of Elijah can be heard at the national prayer breakfasts. He is returning once again to contend with the Spirit of Jezebel. And the sound of the trumpet is heard in the land. Joel's Army has begun to rise up.
These are just some of the issues which have today's Puritans smoking mad. They are up in arms. Over half of the children brought up in Christian homes are being lost to a post-Christian pagan world view. When they see that the damage is being done by government programs funded by their own hard earned tax dollars they soon become hopping mad. They are absolutely incensed over what is happening. Their beloved America was once was a great and good "nation under God". Now it is skidding the low road to the fleshpots of Sodom and Gomorrah. What are they going to do about it?
The Puritan vision is not an international vision per se. The American dream is predominantly about their own land. They have no desire to Pilgrim on anywhere else. They are happy in their own land. And where can they go? There are no more oceans to cross. No New World's to conquer. So they are committed to make their final stand for the faith in the New World right here where they are.
Today's Puritans on the 'Religious Right' are under increasing duress. They are being radicalized in the process. They are ready to go all out to achieve their goal come what may. What is the Puritan goal?
Their agenda remains the same. It has not changed in 400 years. And now that their children are being led astray it is more vital than ever that they push it through. Their goal is to secure their land as a 'nation under God'.
Due to the layout of the current political playing field evangelical Christians generally support right wing politics. As a matter of political pragmatism these politically active Christian Puritans have little other choice. The other big party on the left has gone pagan. It supports abortion to the point of infanticide (or partial birth abortion). It also upholds the homosexual agenda. The Democratic Party has therefore become an unacceptable political champion for the evangelical arm of the church. Most of today's Puritans believe that there is much to be gained by making deals with right wing politicians. In this way they believe that they can 'get with the strength'.
Evangelicals of the 'Religious right' appear to have set up shop in the Republican Party. This is a bit disconcerting to the old line traditional Republicans. But in a time of significant national and spiritual upheaval the evangelical lobby is on the move. They are now in Washington and going out on the town. They want some action. Today's Puritans are now deep inside the beltway. And they are ready to deal.
The fundamentalist church in America is like the churches in the west that predated her. She is a damsel in distress in the continuing medieval pattern of churchianity. As always, she wants to find a hard man, a tough guy, a political prince who will become her "defender of the faith". But can such a political champion actually deliver on the promises he makes to her? If not then this need not be a big problem. Such a politician can at least pretend to be the Christian champion. And he can make her feel good in the process. A lot of money flows to people who position themselves near the centers of political power. This is a fact of politics.
THE SEVERE MORAL DECLINE IN AMERICA GIVES RISE TO THE400 years ago in England the Puritans rose up to take a dominant role in the political process. Today's Puritans are no different. And they are doing precisely the same as their for-bearer's did when the Christian fundamentalists of that time took over English Parliament. Not all Biblical Christians agree with this action of course. Today's Pilgrim separatists shake their head, just as their predecessors did in earlier times. They wonder where this religious politicking is all going to lead. To them it seems that their politically active Puritan friends are selling the faith a little too cheaply these days, and for dubious gain. Some worry that it might eventually lead these Christian power players into serious compromise. Some Pilgrim Christians are concerned that it could even lead to the religious harlotry we know is coming in the latter days of this era. They have read their Bibles. They are worried about their Puritan friends falling into a spiritually compromised position. Some are worried that this movement may be sucked into a political vortex to lead Western Christianity into a power play ending up with the ultimate corruption, that being outright apostasy.
'CHRISTIAN RIGHT' AND TO CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN POLITICS.
BUT ARE THERE CONCERNS ABOUT THE DANGERS OF COMPROMISE?
The specter of religious harlotry is a very real concern to Biblical Christians in the devotional flows of Western Christianity. The Book of Revelation is a heavenly court case conducted at the end of this age. It is also a story of two women. One of them, the woman of Revelation 12 is hard pressed and in travail, but emerges glorious. The other woman is not. The Apostle saw a harlot woman riding a beast with ten horns in one of his visions of the latter days. It is an immensely powerful harlot church. She is coming into her ultimate goal of world dominion.
Pilgrim Christians are somewhat different from their Puritan friends. They are glad to live in a nation that has been blessed by God. But they believe that without a genuine revival among the people the nation cannot really be changed in any deep and meaningful sort of a way. Pilgrim separatists believe that without a change in the hearts of its citizens brought in by the indwelling Christ little of any real value can be expected to happen in the heart and destiny of the nation itself. All the money and political power in the world cannot save the soul of the nation of America without a true and genuine revival among its people. They quote the scripture,"For what shall it profit a manFrom a Pilgrim viewpoint the sort of political deals that are being made today with merchants and politicians are questionable and very worrisome. They fear that these collusion's may actually corrupt the Church and thereby end up causing more evil in the land than they pretend to correct. Moral integrity and good citizenship are the real national treasure of America. And these valuable human resources come through a personal faith. Pilgrim Christians believe that only genuine revival of individual hearts can bring any real and meaningful change in the fabric of society.
if he should gain the whole world; and lose his own soul.?"
Pilgrim Christians are also aware of this fact. Moral virtue, unlike criminality, cannot be legislated from without or enforced by government. It must come from within. Laws can be written upon tablets of stone. And we make a lot over our monuments of stone the masons glory in. But unless the laws are written upon hearts of the people in the pattern of New Covenant Christianity we cannot expect to see the nation change. (Jeremiah 31:31) What really makes a nation great are not the laws it writes but the people within its borders. The Spirit of God in the citizens of a land is something more than just a 'human resource'. We are talking here of a spiritual resource. This is what makes the nation truly great.
So how much good can legislation do in matters of personal morality? We know that criminals can be reigned in by the laws of the land. But can Christian morality be governed? What if over half the citizens of the land are pagans or just don't care?
So Pilgrim Christians are dubious about this dabbling in politics. They are wont to say that morality is a matter of the heart. It cannot be legislated from without. Only Christian faith can effect change in citizen integrity. It is a transformation that comes from within. And it only happens by the establishment of the altar and the throne of Christ inside the human heart. And this can only happen with the 'new birth' and being "born again" in Christ Jesus.
Pilgrim Christians say,"No nation can legislate morality".Pilgrim Christians do not believe that true virtue can be foisted upon an unwilling and increasingly wicked world society. Church history in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and modern National Socialism bear ample witness to this. Christian crusading leads on to the power of the sword, and this is a grievous mistake. These externally applied political gyrations cannot be depended on to produce the sort of lasting societal changes that Christian evangelicals pray for.
"Christian lawyers cannot save the nation."
"We cannot sue our way into the Kingdom of God".
Other Pilgrim truisms are,
"The Kingdom of God cannot be imposed upon men from without".
It is engendered by the indwelling Christ operating from within.
"The only real and lasting change comes from the New Covenant".
"When men are saved they find peace with God and peace with their fellow men."
"God writes His laws on human hearts" and so establishes Peace on earth. (Jer.31:31-33)
The differences between Pilgrim Christians and Puritan Christians are these. The Pilgrim Christians believe that the only significant change that really means anything is one that happens on the inside of a human hearts. And this only comes by the Presence of the indwelling Christ. This, of course, is a minority view. But it is the Pilgrim view. God's holy people have been around a long long time. They have seen the sad political outworkings of Dominion Theology. Deep down in their collective psyche the Pilgrim saints remember those times when the 'son's of thunder' have risen up to impose their "Christianity" upon others. Ambitious men, with mis-directed zeal, are wont to call fire down from heaven and to burn up the Godless who stand in their way. In such times Christian history sees some shameful histories unfold. The "militant christianity" then slips and staggers off the highway of holiness to finally fall from grace.
So are these dealings with the powers of the world really good for the Christian faith?
Can they really be expected to bring in anything of any real and lasting value?
The Pilgrim view on this is unanimous. Without prayer for the nation, and without true repentance and true revival we cannot expect the nation to turn around. True revival must come, and into the souls of the individual citizens of the nation. It must be a personal matter between individuals and God. We cannot make corporate political deals to try to manipulate our nation into the Kingdom of God. And even if we were to effect a change, then who would get the glory?
Of course we have seen what happened with the ecumenical movement. If we sit down at the table to 'make a deal' with the world again what sort of commitment will they asking us for next? And how much will it compromise our faith and witness for Jesus Christ? How much will it hogtie us to the world and keep us away from doing our real job, the fulfillment of the Great Commission? How much will it take us away from the work of the Gospel, and overseas missions?
These are straightforward Pilgrim concerns that might be expressed towards today's Puritans of the Religious Right. Pilgrim evangelical believers are not completely inactive politically. They go to the polls and vote. And they support their country within the limits of Christian conscience. But the Pilgrims of today are concerned that at some point their friends, the Puritans, might go too far. They are worried that they might go the way of Balaam. The ways of the world are seductive and insidious. They usually bring a deadening compromise into the Church. And this is why the glory departs. Is this what we are seeing happen in the Western Church today?
TODAY'S PURITANS ON THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT HAVE SET THEIR AGENDA.Such concerns seem lost on the 'Religious Right'. Today's Puritans are bound and determined to see their muscular crusading Christianity bulldoze its way into its ultimate establishment in society, whatever that might mean. The true results are of this carnal Christianity are dubious. But in the Church rallies the promises of revival and national glory in the rhetoric alone is often enough in itself. This rhetoric and religious showmanship is what makes for "success" in Church life today. At least there is the appearance of success. Rallies of the Religious Right can usually be guaranteed to gather a big crowd in a church. Telemarketers have learned to cash in on this as well. In their appeals for money they lean on the fears of middle Americans. Huge flows of money are being cut loose by these means. And yet the moneys raised for Gospel missions overseas is still a paltry 3-4%
FOR CHURCH-STATE POLITICS IN AMERICA TODAY IT IS "FULL SPEED AHEAD".
For those who work the politico-religious machine the modern telemarketing machinations are quite lucrative. When the computer is programmed to dial up a few million Christian fundamentalists in middle America massive amounts of money comes in. The movers and shakers of the 'Religious Right' know that they can stir up the Christian masses through fear. They can tap into some very rich politico-religious flows of human energy and the money that goes along with these fears. As the major blood covenant crises of the day are "managed" big flows of money inevitably pours in. Politicians, lawyers, and fund raisers presenting themselves as Christian champions have now established themselves inside the church. These political operatives know how to work the crowds. They present themselves as problem solvers or 'crisis managers' in the laws and the politics of the land. Many have become exceedingly famous, wealthy and powerful in the process. Even if they are not changing the fundamentals in the nation they can at least appear to be Church champions. Their appeals are all the same. They affirm that if Christians send them enough money that they can "turn things around" and bring 'the breakthrough'. But can they?
Herein lies the challenge; And the danger.
The modern day Puritans are very active on the legal front as well. They are now hiring lawyers and taking their case for a 'nation under God' into the higher courts. They take legal action in the defense of Christians who have been victimized by secularist strong-arm tactics of their arch enemy the ACLU. The American Center for Law and Justice is very active in this area. They will also petition and take legal action at the Supreme Court level on issues such as partial birth abortion, (which is essentially infanticide), pornography, students rights to gather and pray on state school property and a host of other church-state battle zones. Here they are doing some very fine work.
This is all well and good, as far as it goes. But the question still remains. Is this going to bring us in the final victory? Or are we taking one step forward and two steps backward? Can high paid Christian/Jewish lawyers humble these pagan enemies of the faith? Or with all this legalism are they just stirring up the flesh and making things worse?
Here is another issue. The nations are raging as we approach the end of the age. King David wrote the song about it back 3,000 years ago. (See Psalm 2) Dear saints, it is a jungle out there. Can the Religious Right and their high paid lawyers sue us into the Kingdom of God do you think? Can legalism and wheeling and dealing straighten out the heathen world system? No, it cannot. Now we are left with militarism. Will a final "last crusade" bring us into a Christian Dominion and worldwide lasting peace? Or might we end up with a harlot quasi-Christian Church system. Is it possible that the returning Messiah may return just in time to prevent humanistic men from destroying themselves?
It can probably be argued that our fellow Christians who are political activists may well be performing a valuable role. Today's Puritans on the Religious Right may be fighting a commendable rearguard action for us as Pilgrims. This may give us time to get on with the real Christian agenda, that being the advancing the Gospel and sacrificially supporting our brothers and sisters overseas in missions abroad. This is Job #1. It is summed up by Jesus Christ Himself in our commissioning papers. This is the Great Commission. And there is no question, we saw this combined effort by Christians from all sides of the political spectrum during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the British Empire. In fact the British Empire opened the door to the greatest missionary outreach this world had ever seen up until that time.
Even though modern day Puritans are very active in the public arena the main voice of the Religious Right is heard through their various religious ministries. The pulpit along with Christian radio and Christian television are all employed.
Today's Puritans would be represented by such politico/religious organizations as that of the Rev. Jerry Falwell which was once called the "Moral Majority" and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. They drum up support for conservative causes and conservative political leaders. They try very hard to get Christian leaders elected into office hoping to garner some political favors for the church in return.
Some years back televangelist Pat Robertson was about to run for President of the United States. In those heady times the Christian Coalition even went so far as to presume ownership of the entire population of American Christians. The Religious Right proceeded to take a census of every Christian household in America! They were about to number the people of God! Many evangelicals were a bit perturbed about this act of presumption. Because God has judged such presumption severely in times past.
Support for energized and activated evangelicals can mean a lot to a political candidate running for public office. Blood covenant issues like abortion and the defilement of marriage by homosexuality are very powerful issues. Holding the line against militant paganism in the schools and the public arena is very important to today's Puritans and many Pilgrims in the system as well. When it comes time to take political action on election day these people are energized! They are going to get out the vote!
Many savvy politicians will say that they fully support the evangelical cause. But whether or not they actually follow through and can in fact deliver on what they have promised is quite another thing. Nevertheless, Christian political activists believe that playing the political game is the only solid down to earth avenue open for them in their quest to bring back the Godly American culture they once knew and loved.
Christian radio and television offers a huge platform and opportunity for ministers of the 'Religious Right" these days. 'Fear is the key' here. Many Christian fundamentalists are fearful. In their fear they are therefore capable of being stirred up to anger. This anger can then be harnessed for political action. Puritan Christians really do care about the deteriorating moral climate in society. They hope and believe that matters can be significantly improved if they exert enough political and legal pressure on the powers that be. They are angry because Christians are being marginalized and alienated in the American public arena.
As Christians this should not be a problem. Such treatment is normal for those who are called of God. 500 Christians are martyred every day in this sin-sick world. But as American citizens our modern day Puritans on the Religious Right are not in the mood to "take up their cross". They believe that they are 'the head and not the tail'. They do more than take up the cry of Rodney Dangerfield and moan, "We don't get no respect!" They diligently find out what action they can take. Then they get on with the program!
Televangelists find it very easy to play on the many insecurities and fears Christians live with these days. Using the pulpit they often work up their crowd in the manner of political populists in the town hall. They know that there is much to be gained in presenting themselves as a champion of the fundamentalist politico-religious agenda. More money flows in when these issues of the Religious Right are aired than when the usual evangelical programming is broadcast. It seems that today's Puritans are more interested in promoting a Christian milieu in the land of their present sojourn than in taking the Gospel to people over into other lands. Time and time again we hear such comments as,
"We should take care of the spiritual and physical needs of our own people here in America before we concern ourselves with people in other countries".
Christian fund raising in America is a fine art. Televangelists know by experience which issues to raise before the people to produce the most money. Christian programs with a political agenda loosen the money strings quite handily. So these are the ministries that are promoted.
Ministries which center on preaching the Gospel or teaching Holy Scripture or promoting missionary outreach abroad are not so fortunate. These ministries are typically under funded. These 'old fashioned' sorts of evangelical programs which center on the Great Commission are sadly neglected. They struggle to stay on the air. This is to our shame.
THE PURITANS TODAY: THEIR NATIONALISM, THEIR CONNECTIONSMost evangelicals in the U.S. align themselves with right wing politics. Others would like Christian fundamentalists to reconsider their practice of 'hooking up' with the one big party on the right. They think we should voice our concerns on every issue that calls for a righteous judgment under God no matter which political faction we may find ourselves supporting or offending. They say we should let our Christian political activism play out in all arenas across the entire political spectrum and let the political chips fall where they may. Some are very vocal in their criticism of the sorts of political alliances the American evangelicals have been making with the right wing political parties and their identification with the onward march of a globalism dominated by big business. Many multinational powerhouses are often bigger and richer than the countries in which they operate. Some Christians say it is unseemly for the Holy Christian Communion, the Body of Christ, to be in the pockets of these huge business empires. They see this as a very real danger for compromise and corruption in the American Christian church as it is being led onwards by the Religious Right.
TO BIG BUSINESS, AND THE GROWING DANGER OF COMPROMISE.
The so-called 'free-trade' system is a case in point. Many have reported that it is not engendering the peace and freedom in the third world that we might suppose that it does. They say that it breaks up the local native economies, exploits workers overseas in sweat shops, pillages third world countries for their natural resources and rides roughshod over delicate ecosystems. This causes the native peoples to respond with communist, nationalist and religious uprisings. The resulting guerrilla wars bring much grief, heartache, and impoverishment to these small nations. American evangelical Christians, to their way of thinking, have been imprudent in giving their unquestioning support to right wing politics and these powerful multinational corporations which now overshadow and dominate the world.
Are these concerns anything to worry about? With the collapse of the Soviet Union America has now become the last remaining superpower. Now with all these government funded 'Church Based Initiatives' is the American government drawing the American church into an even more dominant role in national and global rule? And could that American church-state collusion develop into something akin to what was seen in the worldwide colonial/imperial rule of the former British Empire?
The promise of all this support must be very tempting to Church leaders. Advancement comes quickly the movers and shakers of the Religious Right. But they surely must know that with any deals religion makes to the powers of this world will have strings attached . Can the American church remain uncorrupted in all this wheeler dealing? When they 'rise up' and 'take possession' can they remain unspoiled by all this money and all this power? These are the sorts of questions that need to be asked. - And answered in a faithful sort of way.
THE PAX AMERICANA AND A MULTINATIONAL BUSINESS EMPIRE.History may give us some insight here. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Pax Britannia rose to power. Back in those days the Brits of the Victorian age ruled over nearly one quarter of the globe. Now it seems that the Americans of the current Pax Americana are positioning themselves to finish the job of world economic domination which their British cousins across the pond have begun. In fact the British have given much tangible support for the American military expansion into the middle east. It seems that the lion and the eagle are joined, even as we see with the griffin. This was the heraldry on the shield of Richard the Lionhearted and it is also the symbolism of the first beast we see in Daniel chapter 7.
IS IT PICKING UP WHERE THE BRITISH EMPIRE LEFT OFF?
This is quite interesting. The Puritans, when it comes to politico-religious zeal, are not all that different from their Victorian relatives in Great Britain. They share a common language. And they have fought together in the two world wars. In fact the Amish, from their unique non-violent perspective lump the British and the Americans together. They actually call them in one breath, 'the English'. Could the Amish be discerning, identifying, and linking the same spirit of church-state dominionism we saw with the Victorians and are now seeing emerge with today's Puritans of the Religious Right?
During the 19th century, under Queen Victoria, British colonialism came to dominate one quarter of the world. In those days the British Empire and the 'Religious Right' of their day, the Church of England, moved in lockstep together. The Anglican Church, in Victorian times, was virtually an arm of the British Empire. And the British Empire was part and parcel of the Church of England.
Of course we cannot be too critical here. The British colonial rule did in fact advance Christianity very powerfully, if imperfectly, back in those times. The British Empire, like the other big superpowers of Christendom before them, did facilitate missionary outreach in a major way. The huge and wonderful British missionary outreach seen in the 19th century was unprecedented in its time. The British missionary societies of the time oversaw the greatest missionary outreaches the world had ever seen. They are still the stuff of legend.
So here then is the question. Could a state church operating under the cover of an imperial, even military, merchant regime be all that bad? Didn't Jesus Himself walk along Roman roads? And didn't He minister under the Pax Romana, the peace and security afforded by Imperial Rome? Well of course He did. And he did submit Himself to Roman authority, as far as God His Father allowed. But then He was also very careful to say to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. And unto God the things that are God's."
Just what do we as Biblical Christians have to do with left wing or right wing politics? What did Jesus do during His ministry as He walked on earth with us? Well it seems that our Savior was pretty much apolitical for the most part. But He did make one political comment. He alluded to "that fox Herod". - Luke 13:32 He did, however, have a right wing politically engaged patriot, even a zealot, in his band of 12 disciples. But this disciple didn't turn out very well. He lost his soul to the lust for power and filthy lucre. He betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. That disciple, of course, was Judas Iscariot.
In all of the three and a half years Jesus was with us He made only one appearance in a political way. That day was Palm Sunday. On that day He rode into Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate riding upon a donkey. This closed up the first 69 weeks of the 70 weeks of Daniel. Jesus as Messiah came into His city in His first role. At that time He appeared to His covenant people as Israel's Suffering Servant.
Most Christians are not aware of the dangers of compromise in church state politics. So generally they just don't care. But there are others who think that this growing American church-state accord just might become a problem in future times. Some are even concerned that American Christians might do even worse than the British Christians did. Some think that the American church could be politically seduced in the same way that the German Christian church was mislead during the 1930's.
Those were years of economic distress and rising hopes. German Christendom left the 'way of the cross' to 'take up the sword'. They allowed a twisted cross, the swastika, to be displayed in their churches. They followed their political champion until he put his hooks in them. Then they had no choice but to go on with him. The rest is history. They were led them down a dangerous pathway of nationalist domination. The Christian voice in Germany was lost in the political process. Germany and her church was lead into an awful history of devastation and defeat in the Second World War.
There is, of course, a pattern here. A pattern that could be repeated. Could some similar charismatic leader or conqueror lead American Christians into a similar national tragedy? In some future time of national or international crisis could a political pied piper rise up? Could the Christian children be led away on yet another devastating crusade, even the 'last crusade' and join the gathering of national armies against Israel? Some are concerned that American Christendom could at some point in the future be led into a similar misadventure with all its ensuing disaster, blood guiltiness and shame.
Most Christian fundamentalists or evangelicals in America have not expressed any such concerns. Most do not know modern history. Nor are they aware of the patterns in the histories of Christian superpowers as they rose up in past history. So these sorts of concerns haven't even crossed their minds. They are quite happy to be on the political right. The political left to their way of thinking is hopelessly debauched. And they want to "get with the strength". They are not even on the lookout for pitfalls on the road ahead.
THE MODERN PURITANS AND THE SAD CONDITION ON THE HOME FRONTToday's American Evangelical community is materially prosperous. It is the richest church in the world by far. Yet by any accounting it is losing the spiritual battle on the home front. In fact it is in a moral tailspin. The personal lives of evangelicals are not all that different from non-Christians. The divorce rate among evangelicals has now overtaken that of the secular world. Peer pressure and a desire to conform to the mores of the world prevails in the American church today. This is what has allowed the compromise and corruption to go unchecked. It is considered unusual, even quaint, or "uncool" to see Christians living lives committed to God in holiness. Perhaps it is not surprising then that we are not seeing the miracles and divine healings that are common among the more hard pressed Christian believers overseas.
The situation with children of evangelical parents is alarming. Unable to teach or inspire our children in the faith we are all too often giving up and just entertaining them. In spite of our riches and or lavish church buildings and all the latest crowd pleasing programs to motivate and build 'self esteem' 80% of evangelical children grow up and just leave the church. They slip off into the world. Never before have we suffered such awful losses in our Christian family.
It seems that our church-life has lost it's zest. Church services evidence a country club atmosphere and a lack of appreciation of God's awe. The spiritual dynamic in the study of the scriptures is lacking. And personal devotions don't seem to be as relevant these days as they once were. Christians attend church more for personal reassurance and social lubrication. A host of programs are now offered centered around "my needs". These include 'self esteem' seminars, rallies in which motivational speakers are hired, singles ministries, baseball etc. This is strange. What has happened to our prime focus in the Gospel and the nurturing of our children in the Christian faith? How about the ministry to our brothers and sisters in the poorer inner city churches? And how much action do we see in missionary outreach to other countries?
These are very real concerns for today's Puritans and Pilgrims. God has given us these times of prosperity for a purpose. That purpose is not just to build up church masonry and indulge our own self life. We have a job to do. Accordingly we should redeem the time during this period of peace God has given us. Our obedience here would soon resolve our malaise and the supposed "self esteem" problems that dog us. The indwelling Christ would begin to build us up from the inside out. We would then discover our true esteem coming to us as a serendipity. How does this happen? Well as Christian believers our only true and real esteem is to be found in Him!
Alas, we do not know this. At least not yet.
What has happened? Are we seeing a 'falling away' from the faith of our fathers? Have the modern Puritans drifted into a lukewarm state of declining Christian commitment? Could we in the western church of today be the Church of Laodicea? It is considered a savvy move to enlist the aid of political princes to support the Christian cause. But in the compromise are we doing ourselves more harm than good?
Many evangelical are concerned about the new religious militancy. Concerns have been expressed that the Promise Keepers movement was drawing the church into carnality based on the pagan phallus worship and an obsession with fleshly worldly power. This is Gnostism coming into the church like a Trojan horse. But most Christians have no idea what Gnosticism is and how the early church dealt with it. Nor do they know the dangers it poses to their Christian faith. They are being led astray by pied pipers and have no clue just what they are being drawn into.
Has the western church continued the pattern of ancient Israel and the medieval church? Has she gone out in search of her lovers and secular champions? Is the 'Christian Right' in a swoon? Is the modern Church a fulfillment of the prophecy played out and showcased by Hosea and his wayward wife? Could it be that the church of today is modern Gomer?
The Puritan Christian of the Religious Right has his eyes on his own land. To him it is more than just a treasured way station on the Pilgrim pathway. For some of today's Puritans this is the end of the journey. The New World here in America is "it". America is "that city set on a hill". It is hard for him to concern himself with places beyond, places where his or her own Christian family overseas is expanding in an unprecedented and wonderful way.
TODAY'S PURITAN EVANGELICALS IN AMERICA ARE QUITE DIFFERENT FROMThe situation in China and South America it is quite different. Over there the evangelical church carries on without the support of any 'nation under God'. They certainly don't enjoy much in the way of 'political protection' and lavish church buildings either. They have no political champions to 'take dominion' or 'take up the sword' for them. They have no "defender of the faith". Quite the contrary in fact. They are under persecution! Yet in the spiritual sense the suffering church over there is doing extremely well. Chinese Christian young people are strong in the faith. They understand what Jesus said when He told us to "...take up your cross and follow me". They understand Blood Covenant Christianity.
THE EVANGELICALS WE SEE IN PLACES ABROAD. IN MANY PLACES THE CHURCH
OVERSEAS HAS ZERO POLITICAL COVER. AND YET THEY ARE DOING BETTER
SPIRITUALLY THAN THE RICH AND POLITICALLY POWERFUL AMERICAN CHURCH.
Sadly, we don't.
It would seem that we in the Western Church don't know Jesus Christ in a blood covenant relationship. Our "ticket to heaven" and a "pre-tribulation release from the end-time witness" are in many cases presented to us as just a "deal" or merchant's "contract" with God. Sadly they are latter day indulgences. They are cheap counterfeits of true Christianity sold to the unwary for money in the religious bazaars of Mammon. Future history will prove this religious merchandise to be quite worthless.
This is not a rap. We can be greatly encouraged here. Because we are obviously on the learning curve. We are on the road to find out! Here are the facts. The church overseas is absolutely exploding. The Islamic moon god is cracking up from within and showing his merciless face. Fax machines and the internet carry the Word of God which is penetrating the walls that Mohammed built. The Gospel message slips quietly by the mullahs and the Islamic scimitars. It reaches hearts, particularly of women in Muslim lands who are locked away from the flows of life. Many are strangely desirous of finding and knowing a God of Grace. They fantasize about such a God. But they have never seen Him demonstrated. Still, they wonder. They wonder about this Jesus particularly in places where Christians in past times have died by Muslim hands. Their blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.
The Muslim mullahs are in an uproar over all this. They are losing the spiritual battle for the hearts of the people! Their world is coming crumbling down. That is why they are now preaching Jihad or "holy war". That is the only card that is remaining for them to play. It is the peaceful spreading of the Gospel and not the sword that is making the difference here.
And we are winning!
South America tells a similar story. Half the church is aged under 16. This is quite a different story from the dead churches in Europe. Huge cathedrals with just a few elderly church attendees. Young evangelicals overseas share the Gospel with great devotion and enthusiasm. In China the underground church has no political protection. They conduct secret communion services hidden in the forests. Pastors are under constant threat of imprisonment. Open Doors, with Brother Andrew reports that about half of the Christian conversions in China are accompanied by miraculous interventions by God. Divine healing, deliverance, and the miraculous are commonplace events. And yet the Body of Christ in China operates in the very principality of the Dragon, right under the nose of Lucifer himself!
The Dragon is getting desperate. No longer content to maintain a conspiracy of silence he is now acting out with violence. And why? Because he knows that his time is short. He smiles for the cameras but puffs fire from time to time. Christians in China are arrested and put in prison for sharing their faith. Many have died for the witness. Many are continuing to die. Many Christians in the persecuted suffering church abroad can't even get a personal Bible. Vietnamese Christians will pay two weeks salary and risk imprisonment to get a Bible on the black market.
Meanwhile, back in America, evangelicals pay politicians to gain favors. And for what? Is it out of fear of persecution? And are they getting their money's worth? Is this a rewarding use of God's tithes and offerings? Judging from the testimony of our Christian brothers and sisters overseas might we be better off funding the Gospel missionary outreach abroad. Much wonderful work is being done. Christian radio is being beamed into the Muslim world. Our support of native evangelists is proving immensely successful. So is the showing of the 'Jesus film' in Africa and India.
Here is the question for American Puritans. Can we buy political insurance to guarantee protection against the alienation of Christians in America? Or is it as inevitable as the incoming tide? And might the situation actually be worsened by our spiritual compromise?
We must be fair here. Most American Christians are unaware of this great opportunity which now lies before us for advancing the Kingdom of God in missions overseas. We can help our brothers and sisters here in a great way. Yet our tithe moneys still continue to stay in America. The money is used in building huge church monoliths and funding an all encompassing self-realization and self-motivational agenda. Here is the sad story. Only 3-4% of our Christian offerings go to missionary activity overseas.
In spite of all this persecution and the neglect of our western church the vital and faithful witness goes on in the suffering church abroad. The invisible underground church in China continues to double every 7 years. The Chinese Church is now a communion of over 100 million souls.
Meanwhile, back here in America and the west our young people yawn when the subject of the Christian faith is brought up. Our 'X' generation is not impressed with the evangelical church in the west, nor with the watered down message they are hearing. They have little sense of responsibility and are in constant need of being entertained. Since they don't find a zesty blood covenant level of commitment in Christianity they seek it elsewhere. They seek that deep level of relationship and commitment down in the soulish and fleshly realms. They seek it with their peers in sex, drugs, and rock music as well as in the tattoo parlors. To them this is more 'real' than our present compromised and debauched Christianity. Apparently they do not think that we as pampered over-protected Western evangelical Christians are 'for real'.
Our children think we are just semi-committed Christian materialists and Christian politicians still out for 'number one'.
Could they be right?
We must not become despondent here. Because God has brought us to this crisis for a purpose. He is wooing His people to Himself. He has a wonderful message of encouragement for us in all of this. Over there in the persecuted church He is demonstrating to us His Sovereign overcoming power. The furnace of tribulation, while it burns up the wood, hay, and stubble, is also purifying the gold. And the glory flows forth.
This happened in the first three centuries of early Church history. And it is happening right now in China.
They are seeing the miracles we in the west are not seeing.
They are doubling their numbers every seven years.
They are seeing a vibrant church full of sold-out committed young people. The true invisible Church of Jesus Christ is invincible! Even without political support, and perhaps even because of its absence, we are going to win! (Dan.12)
Can we believe this?
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