For there must also be divisions among you, so that those who are approved may be recognized. 1 Corinthians 11:19.
I believe we may be moving to another great schism in the Body of Christ. The church is being challenged on its commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in a way it has not experienced since the Battle for the Bible in the 1970s.
It is not so much that the “trial” over the authority and trustworthiness of the Bible is over. In a strange fashion, that issue has raised its head again over the question of whether we are willing to speak the truth when it comes to the state.
Many are called, but few are chosen; and the chosen are known by their choices. Will we continue to compromise with the pro-sodomites in our midst, the proponents of preemptive warfare, the supporters of intrusive government (remember, the welfare system is a breach of the Eighth Commandment), etc.? How shall we choose?
The coming schism will center on our national idolatry. The urge to “build a city, a tower, a name for ourselves” (the sin of Babel, Genesis 11:1-9) is idolatry. For people to say “Give us a king to rule us like the nations” (1 Samuel 8) is idolatry. For the nation to wage wars against pagan enemies when the nation itself has not done righteousness is idolatry. When we engage in political discourse without theological discourse it is idolatry.
A goodly number of Christians are finding themselves in contradiction to the status quo and even in resistance against it. Taking Christ seriously has put them into opposition to the present order and its definition of success. They are accused of being biased and narrow-minded. But Christians must be biased because the God of the Scriptures is biased. Hence they are calling upon the church to extricate itself from its unconscious compromising practices of political theology. The crucified Christ is their highest authority. For them, faithfulness to the truth, not accommodation, is the appropriate mission for disciples of Christ.
Will we continue to subject the Word of God to the claims of cultural ideology? Will we continue to confine the Lordship of Christ to a narrow “spiritual” realm and surrender the rest of life to the false gods? Will we continue to pay uncritical allegiance to the state? Or will we recognize that Christ is the Lord of life even in those situations where His Lordship is not readily recognized? This is precisely our dilemma.
How we answer these questions will determine the future of the church in America. Our struggle today is not merely against an evil ideology; it is against a pseudo-religious ideology that was conceived and nurtured in the bosom of the evangelical church. What is at stake is not merely the future of the American church but the credibility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
A major schism seems likely unless we declare unequivocally that statism is a sin – that it is a travesty of the Gospel, a betrayal of the Reformed tradition, and a heresy.
September 5, 2004
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. His latest book is Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon.