Recently, a number of friends have asked me about the goings on which are presently so troublesome. I have been encouraged to share my thoughts. So, I said, "Email me your questions, and I will see what I can do." Below are a few of my responses to friends' questions. I have given my friends noms de plume.
QUESTION ONE: (Richard) "Am I correct in thinking what we appear to be seeing in America today is a conflict being fueled by differences between world views (Biblical, which has a vertical perspective, verses postmodernism, which has a horizontal perspective)? The current, most robust version of postmodernism is referred to as "critical race theory." Is this conflict being actively used by those who wish to destroy the present governing structure in order to establish one of their own?"
Richard, you simultaneously state the question and answer it. So, my answer is Yes.
Your question focuses on the vertical-horizontal conflict, and that shouldn't surprise the Christian who believes and takes the Bible seriously, believing it is authoritative in all matters of faith and practice. So, I begin by asking: has God spoken to mankind, and is the Bible the record of God's interaction with mankind by stories and precepts which we are able to understand and give response? And the response becomes key, for it means what is recorded in the Bible is authoritative. The Christian's vertical understanding stands in opposition to postmodern man's horizontal understanding.
The Bible says God made all things. The postmodern man says the universe happened into existence "billions and billions of years ago" (Sagan).
The Bible says man is created by God in God's image. The postmodern man says man is the product of an evolutionary process which is continuing.
The Bible says man is a creature who is responsible to God, the Creator. The postmodern man says God did not create man; rather, "man is the measure of all things" (Protagoras) and "I think therefore I am" (Descartes), and, therefore, there is no one to whom man is responsible (except the all-knowing priests of academia and the bearded sages who compose the forum of the polis).
The Bible says man is a sinner who has rebelled against God, who is separated from God, who is always going astray from God, and who is in need of being saved by a Savior who is Jesus Christ. The postmodern man says man isn't a sinner, he doesn't need a savior, and, if he does get broken here and there, he is most capable of mending himself (Melville: "Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending").
At the core of and fundamental to postmodernism (and this vertical-horizontal conflict) is atheism. Simply put, atheism is an intellectual proposition in contrast to theism. Theism says there is a God. Atheism says there is NO God. However, as I have dealt with atheists, atheism is NOT an intellectual discussion to be calmly debated. Atheism is a howling, visceral, angry, and accusing tirade at God, and it goes something like this: "Damn you God! Why did you make me thus? I don't like the way my world is! I hate you and your commandments. I hate you because my life is imperfect and you haven't made it perfect. Because you won't do what I want, I denounce you, saying. 'There is no God!' I am my own God. And, by the way, I also hate all those who believe in God! I also hate the church. All churches need to be closed for being places of hate-speech. Christians are dangerous to the public good." As I said, I have found atheism to be a burning fire, consuming all before it in irrational rage as it congratulates itself on its self-exaltation to God-hood.
Now, Richard, as "critical race theory" is a postmodern solution which is a horizontal solution standing in opposition to a Biblical and vertical solution, it is not only destructive to our governing structure but to our Judeo-Christian culture. The story for the self-proclaimed oppressed goes like this: whether governing, economic, educational, religious, historical, racial, or social, it must be demolished and effaced, for these are the institutions of slavery, inequality, and and poverty. And, from my perspective, it seems the entire arsenal of the weapons of anarchy is opened for use by the mob. But what will the mob have achieved after the conflagration? An ash heap! But, eureka, all are equal in the ashes of death!
QUESTION TWO: (Wayne) "As a white Christian, should I apologize for the death of George Floyd?"
Wayne, what role did you play in the death of George Floyd for which you should apologize?
The canonization of George Floyd as a martyr has been fascinating to watch. In the Roman Catholic Church, individuals are recognized as "saints" because of incredible acts of devotion to God and extraordinary good deeds to others. Of course, this is oversimplification, but it certainly excludes Floyd from sainthood.
Floyd was a serial criminal who was incarcerated numerous times. On the night of his death, he was arrested for attempting to pass counterfeit money, which is an act of theft. The passing of counterfeit money by a US citizen is an act of treason, for it undermines trust in our currency and thereby destabilizes the monetary system. Probably, he was also involved in conspiracy, for he obtained bogus money from someone who was printing and selling it. Floyd was also "under the influence." When confronted by the police, he resisted arrest. Indeed, Floyd was not a man known for devotion to God and good deeds to others. He is no martyr! He is no saint!
Now, of course, the policemen involved in the arrest of George Floyd mishandled the situation. They violated their oath to protect the public to which they had solemnly sworn - and Floyd was a part of the public. In my opinion, they became just as lawless as Floyd in their treatment of him. In my opinion, a man was killed without due cause or process. I think they disgraced their badge and uniform. And, I think, their callous treatment of Floyd ignited the outrage and riots which followed.
Notwithstanding, I wonder, in the evening, before getting in bed, is there a young black woman who prays, "Lord, give me a son who will grown up and be just like Saint George Floyd?"
Wayne, as a white man who is a Christian, you have nothing for which to apologize in the death of George Floyd. You did nothing! Wayne, you live in Eagle Lake, Florida!
QUESTION THREE: (Ken) "What is driving this sudden outbreak of protests and riots?"
Ken, make no mistake, this is not a "sudden outbreak." This movement is well-planned, well-coordinated, and well-funded. Ken, it is an election year! The "sudden outbreak" was waiting for a spark. George Floyd was the spark - the opportunity.
As I have watched the media's accounts of the riots, I have asked the following questions: (1) How did the rioters get there? (2) Since so many of their signs seem to have been printed ahead of time, how did they do that apart from a planned and coordinated effort? (3) Do these people not have job responsibilities? and (4) Who pays for the food and travel?
Recently, in little Walhalla, SC, we had protestors at our monument to Confederate war dead on West Main Street. It has been interesting to watch the story unfold. Just before media vans arrive with their cameras, buses arrive with protesters to begin the spontaneous rally. I know I am naturally suspicious, but one is left asking, "Is this spontaneous protest coordinated?"
Remember, Wayne, this is an election year. The hatred of the members of the Democrat Party for President Trump is rabid. Do not forget the chant Maxine Waters began immediately after the election: "Impeach 45! Impeach 45! Impeach 45!" Having failed at impeachment, the new stratagem is: "Get rid of Trump by any and all means available! If necessary, burn down the country!"
QUESTION FOUR: (Jim) "As a member of a PCA church, I am disturbed by the leadership of the Gospel Coalition which is so influential in our General Assembly. Gospel proclamation seems to have been replaced by social activism. One of the calls we hear is for the church to support reparations for slavery. What do you think about reparations for slavery?"
Jim, are there former slaves alive to whom reparations can be given? Some people have been hoodwinked by the foolishness of those who are eaten up with "White guilt," or should I say, "Black envy."
I am one of the few people alive today who has actually met and spoken with a former slave. I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade. The gentleman I met was 100 or 101 or 102 years old (for he wasn't sure of his birthday). Providentially, his memory had not faded, and his stories enthralled me. He died a few months later.
I am intrigued by the idea of reparations. My people sailed from Portugal to West Africa to buy my people from my people in order to transport my people to the American colonies where my people were waiting to buy my people from my people. Some of my people owned slaves, some of my people were slaves, some of my people went north and became abolitionists, and some of my people ran north for freedom. When the Civil War exploded, some of my people marched south to fight for the freedom of my people, and some of my people fought to keep my people slaves. After the Civil War, in 1867, at 65 years old, my great, great, great grandfather, a plantation owner, who changed sides at the end of the war, became a scalawag and a Republican, and married the last of his three wives, a woman of whom it was said "she had Creek Indian blood,"- code which explained her dark skin and made it possible for them to wed in South Carolina. The story is a tapestry of twists and turns; however, as young men, their two sons moved to south-central Georgia in order to "pass." According to an ancestry test, I have 6% slave DNA. I don't want reparations; however, if 6% qualifies me for a check of any amount, I will take it. Trying to figure out what I am is a labor in hyphenations; however, according to the old South Carolina "one drop" law," I am a "white Negro."
By the way, Jim, if my pastor is a proponent of reparations or is partnering with the Gospel Coalition (which should be called the Social Gospel Coalition), I think I would find a new church to attend.
QUESTION FIVE: (Hank) "What is the role of the individual Christian in all this? Are we as an individual Christians called to be passive subjects to whatever administration God puts in place, or are we called to be protestors who resist? What are our 'marching orders?'"
Hank, unlike the love-song, Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, your question is a monstrously splintered thing which you must have picked up at "Complicated-Я-Us." I too have purchased many items there.
Of course, the obvious and simple answer is Speak out!There is no such thing as a private Christian (Matthew 10.33). The Christian's vertical relationship with God informs him of his horizontal relationship with others (Christians and non-Christians).
However, I think you are asking a more knotty question. I think you are anticipating the demise of the United States as a democratic republic which cherishes freedom under law and the rise of the People's Socialist Republic of America which compels conformity, state-worship, and exalts in the tyranny of the people. Aren't you asking, "What does the American Christian do when an oppressive God-hating, Bible-hating, Christian-hating, and church-hating government gains political ascendancy in the United States?"
Hank, here are six choices for you to ponder: (1) flee to another country where Christian faith is not oppressed; (2) continue to worship in opposition to the government's dictates, counting both your freedom and life small things in order to witness Christ with your actions and life (Philippians 3.8); (3) become a "silent" Christian who secretly attends underground conventicles and pray you are never discovered; (5) become a "private" Christian who hides his faith.
The sixth choice is for the man who will not quietly pack everything he and wife have in a suitcase, go to the train station at the appointed time, and get on a boxcar in order to take a trip to the reorientation camp where the ashes of the crematorium fill the air. This sixth choice is for the man who understands freedom of religion and the exercise thereof is not free; who understands freedom of religion and the exercise there of is not safe; who understands freedom of religion and the exercise thereof is not guaranteed in a sin-torn world filled with God-haters; who understands freedom of religion and the exercise thereof must be defended and laid claim to by each generation of Christians; and who understands freedom of religion and the exercise there of is not for the entitled, the timid, and the uninformed Christian who views his faith as cultural baggage to be opened or left closed.
Hank, you and I are old, but we're not too old to learn new lessons and relearn old ones. Our homework: (1) what does the Bible teach? and (2) what are the lessons of our history?
Hank, do you know the differences between the American Revolution and the French Revolution? The French Revolution was the anarchy of the mob which embraced atheism, rejoiced in lawlessness, and bathed itself in the blood of the victims of the guillotine (as did the leaders of the National Socialist German Workers' Party who also loved the work of the guillotine).
The American Revolution was different. May I suggest you read about the doctrines of lesser magistrate, interposition, and nullification? (And it may surprise you to learn the politicians of Massachusetts were the first to seriously discuss secession from the Union https://www.wbur.org/radioboston/2012/06/15/new-england-succession.)
The American Revolution was not the actions of a an atheistic mob. The American leaders were well-read and focused on the nature of law and the origin of law. And, Hank, since you are a Presbyterian, it may surprise you to learn the leaders of the American Revolution were reading and were greatly influenced by Scottish Presbyterians and, particularly, John Witherspoon. Horace Walpole, the Prime Minister of England, said, "Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson!" Walpole said this because Witherspoon was so highly regarded as a thinker and clergyman, college president and professor, and personal mentor to the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and framed the Constitution.
(As a side thought: I think it is fair to say Witherspoon was more influential in the development of our doctrine of the freedom of religion and the exercise thereof than any of the other Founders. Freedom-loving people owe him great respect.)
The French Revolution was a mob of anarchists and atheists who loved blood and destruction and brought forth a twenty-two year series of wars which nearly wasted Europe. The American Revolution saw a group of legislators come together from the Thirteen Colonies who were concerned for rights, laws, and government in order to forge a new nation, saying, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Hank, you asked, "What are our 'marching orders?'" Well, when an oppressive government arises which attempts to abridge our God-given right to the freedom of religion and the exercise thereof, the Declaration says, "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them . . . they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." In such an unpleasant circumstance, organize and stand ready to fight for freedom. A person who is willing to stand and defend his God-given freedoms may be killed, but he will never become a slave. "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
As usual, I am running long. I will leave other questions and answers for another day, God willing.
These are my thoughts,
Charles W. Wilson