Ephesians 6: 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
It is growing ever more evident that this is the battle confronting us today, or maybe it is only that I am growing more aware of it. The last year, certainly, between the reaction to a virus and the reaction to the mobs and the (let's call these) irregularities in the election, has made this overwhelmingly clear.
It is also clear that these principalities and powers are not limited to some sort of invisible spirits, but inhabit real flesh-and-blood humans. This, of course, we have seen often in history. But it was always “those guys,” in the communist or fascist countries, in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire, or the leaders of the so-called “Axis of Evil.” Never the leaders of the so-called free world.
I have been thinking about the reaction to events of the last year by many Christian leaders. A few have been quite courageous – a recent example is the very strong Canadian Pastor Artur Pawlowski; there are others. Some churches have quietly remained open, with few, if any, restrictions placed on those who wish to worship. These examples appear to be found primarily, if not solely, in churches unaffiliated or very loosely affiliated with a larger institution.
Most have followed, lock-step, with whatever the local, state, or federal authorities allow. Remember, this included cancelling Holy Week last year. Had these institutions stood on their faith and calling, the story of 2020 and 2021 would have been quite different. Instead, they cowed under the call of these principalities and powers, the rulers of darkness of this world.
“But, according to Romans 13, we must obey those in authority.” The damage done to both Christians and to freedom by accepting this monstrous understanding of the text is significant. Understanding that “higher powers,” or “superior powers,” inherently means government is a road certain to lead to both physical and spiritual death.
1 John 4: 1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
I will not further develop my thoughts in this post. I have done so several times before, most recently here.
Ephesians 5: 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them
There are numerous passages in the Bible about seeking wisdom and truth. I think these two verses speak best within the context of this post. Much of the world, Christians included, has been consumed by a spirit of fear – and a fear not based on wisdom and truth, but based on propaganda and brainwashing; empty words.
Romans 8: 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The last year has demonstrated that the highest value most people hold, including the vast majority of Christian leaders, is to avoid death – once wisdom and truth are thrown out of the window, and the total ignorance of society in science and reasoning is taken as a given. Avoiding death has also taken over as the highest value in many churches – certainly higher than coming together to worship on any random Sunday, but even so high as to keep the doors closed on Easter week.
Church leaders and many of their parishioners have set their minds on things of the flesh, especially inexcusable when considering the total ignorance and gullibility when it comes to the reason for their fear of death.
Colossians 3: 1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
By placing the avoidance of death as the highest value, many Christians have not been seeking the things above in the last year; perhaps this is just a continuation of not seeking things above for many years. They have been focused on the things that are on earth. Not having died to the world, they have not been raised up with Christ.
With no evidence in support of the claim of the high risk of death, and significant evidence in contradiction, many Christians have turned away from God and turned toward man and flesh.
We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings to be fruitful.
So writes C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man. The chests have been so hollowed out that the fear of death overrules all other values. But we all die, eventually. Is it any wonder that, without any higher value, Western man is living through a meaning crisis?
Why am I so pointed about my criticism of Christian churches and their leaders, and not also on the leaders of other institutions: universities, media, government, etc.?
cosmic dwarf May 11, 2021 at 7:10 AM
Strickland's book really paints the picture of a wholly different Christianity, one where even the highest leaders are willing to risk seriously annoying the secular powers. "Heroic" indeed. These days only the small fish will do anything like that.
To be fair, that's hardly unique to the Church. What powerful institution in the West today isn't a sclerotic bureaucracy bent on justifying its own existence and scared to death of rocking the boat? The globalist NGOs and their backers, I suppose?
I replied in the comments, but here I will expand on this. I agree completely with cosmic’s comments. The state has usurped and corrupted the authority of all meaningful intermediating institutions, all for the benefit of increasing the stranglehold of state power. On this point, there is nothing unique regarding the subservience of most church leaders.
But the most disappointing institution in the debacle that we have been living in for more than a year is the church. It is the church that has the unique calling to live according to the Spirit and not the flesh; it is the church that has the certain truth of life and peace; it is the church that has the knowledge that death has been conquered; it is the church best equipped to give men chests.
It is the only institution in the history of the West that ever played an effective role in keeping the king in check. Most importantly, it is the only institution that answers “love” as the last answer to the last "why" in the string of questions of why we take action. It is the only institution built on Christ, who offered the perfect example of this virtue put into action. So, it should be held most accountable.
To explain why this is so would take several posts. Here they are:
And this is why I lay the most blame on Christian leaders. They were given the authority to speak truth to power; they were given the one means by which this could be done firmly and without exception; they were given the keys to the only truth that has ever prevailed against evil.
And they cast all of it aside, teaching, by word and deed, that avoiding death is the highest value man should hold.
Revelation 3: 1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.
It is clear that the hour has come for the church in the West. Fortunately, some will hold to a way out:
4 But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.