From my post on a discussion between two pastors, Paul VanderKlay and Paul Anleitner, comments were offered by RMB and ATL that are worth addressing in some detail.
One of the pastors asked, “How to recognize ‘this is the evil we are actively to resist.’” This in the context of the current culture wars and riots that are tearing apart the United States and much of the Western world.
I addressed this in the earlier post – the evil we are to resist is the evil that intends to destroy Christianity; it is the same evil that intends to destroy liberty. Recognizing the perpetrators of this evil is easy, because they have no shame or fear in identifying themselves and their purpose – either against Christianity or against liberty.
In any case, the comments opened new questions and topics. First, from RMB November 6, 2020 at 9:40 AM
I don't know exactly how to fight the culture war but by standing firm on what I know to be true and to be ready to tell others when the time comes.
This is exactly where to start. It does not require any complicated decisions about taking violent or even political action (albeit, I know some consider political action to also be violent). It merely requires speaking truthfully.
We know that the objective of the leaders of those marching in the streets is to destroy Christianity; they are avowed Marxists and have not been shy about saying so. We know this is true of many in academia – especially in the various social sciences. We see it in action in many of our political leaders; we see it in the major media.
We see it in too many church leaders – the financial, spiritual, and moral corruption have been well-documented, and, for the most part, well-ignored by the leadership. The advocacy of military aggression, especially in the service of the Scofield Bible and the state of Israel. The regular praise of military adventurism and those who execute it. Spanning the globe in search of enemies to destroy.
We see it in much of the church’s reaction to the culture war, with confusion about BLM, the role of and purpose for family, and the abdication of responsibility to the state for moral teaching.
So, I can only say: RMB knows exactly how to fight the culture war. The difficulty is that there are times when this might not be enough. From A Texas Libertarian November 6, 2020 at 11:39 AM:
The really hard question is: how are we supposed to thwart the plans of those enthralled to it while still maintaining love for them in our hearts as our King commanded?
It isn’t as if we have a clear-cut answer from the Bible – even from Jesus. Give me a moment to explain. Jesus offered, in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
We are also told to turn the other cheek. Ultimately, Jesus forgave those who put Him on the cross. Verses such as these are cited for those who find in Jesus’s teachings and life a very pacifist calling. Some see this as the end of it. But it isn’t.
There are, apparently, over 600 laws and commandments in the Old Testament. Jesus has, thankfully, summarized these to two, from Matthew 22:
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Now, I could be a little cheeky and say that the “love your enemy” part didn’t make the cut. Well, there, I said it. And, of course, just because Jesus didn’t include it in the top two (or add a third) doesn’t make what he said earlier about loving our enemies disappear.
We know, for example, the story of the Good Samaritan. He was able to love his enemy; the example is clear-cut and free of truly difficult ethical conflict for a Christian.
But what if loving your neighbor and loving your enemy come into conflict?
I have this image of the mob going through the neighborhood where the McCloskey’s live. Had the mob turned toward the house to brutalize the family and guests, what would have been the appropriate action for the neighbors? Even without this turn, what would have been appropriate for the neighbors to do to demonstrate their love for the McCloskey’s? How might this have resulted in action against the enemies?
Does this mean I should love my enemy if he tries to kill me, but love my neighbor if my enemy means to do my neighbor harm? I don’t think so. It would be hard to love my neighbor if my voluntary self-sacrifice now turned my neighbor into the next victim.
Even after God gave the commandment, Thou shalt not kill, He sure had Israel do an awful lot of killing. As G.K. Chesterton offered, the commandments were all meant for a purpose – to protect the Ark. The Ark held within it the order around which Hebrew society would thrive. Loving one’s neighbors by protecting the Ark (the society), it seems, trumps loving one’s enemies.
Why my title to this post? From the Lord’s Prayer:
Matthew 6: 13(a) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
How is God to deliver us from evil? I have written recently about the spirit behind those working evil in the world today – the prince of the power of the air. This evil prince is working through real human beings; does not God do the same? Sure, you say; but how?
We are to love our enemies, pray for them; this is hard enough to do when there is no ethical conflict – e.g. the Good Samaritan. But when Jesus boiled the hundreds of laws down to two, He didn’t find this “love your enemies” teaching sufficient to put on the list, whereas loving our neighbors is identified. Perhaps there is a reason for this; perhaps from this we can find an answer to how we are to act when loving our neighbor and loving our enemy come into conflict.
I am sure that there are far more sophisticated answers out there to this issue. I also know that there are numerous wrong-headed answers as well: I find neither the extreme of pacifism nor the extreme of searching the globe for enemies to destroy satisfactory from a Biblical sense, yet there are many Christians who strongly advocate for one or the other extreme.
Returning to the comment from RMB:
I think Christians should still focus on the central message of our guilt before God as sinners, His payment for our sins on the cross, and our access into grace and peace with Him through believing in that message.
Despite the slight variations that Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestant denominations of all stripes might put meaning to these words, all I can say is: Always.