I have made the point that there are three different types of Christian community. The first is separatist pietism that cuts itself off from the world. The second is defensive evangelicalism that has ramped up its engagement with the world without the necessary tools. The third is reformed Kuyperianism which is where you want to be. Given the cultural pressure, many saints are looking for solid biblical community and they’re choosing between the second and third option.
I should note up front that I am very grateful for the saints in the second category. They love the Bible and the gospel. And they know that the faith once for all delivered to the saints has something to do with life in this world. They don’t like the way things are going so they’re speaking up.
But I do want to head off a vice that is not limited to, but nevertheless plagues many in the defensive evangelical camp. Many of these folks have a bifurcated worldview where the spiritual lines up with the spiritual and the physical with the physical. Heaven lines up with heaven and earth lines up with earth and never the two shall meet. So when these stalwart brethren begin to engage the physical, they can leave off the Spirit. When they engage on earth, they have too much earthly in them. The end result is a religion-political conservatism that conserves nothing. It is an emasculated shell of masculinity. It is redundant chatter about the bible being the word of God with special emphasis given to heeding that word, while neglecting to actually do what that word says.
When a community drifts from obedience and faith in this way, that community maintains goals and aspirations, and many of their aims are still noble. The problem is they will compromise to achieve those noble goals. If such a community grows while remaining in its pragmatism, it will emerge as a new Big Eva. And here arises the cringe-worthy phenomenon of top-shelf religious leaders beginning to operate like Malcom X who insisted that his vision would be achieved by any means necessary.
King David shows a better way. In 2 Samuel 4 two men of Ishbosheth’s own army assassinated him after, hearing that their leading commander Abner was dead. Ishbosheth was Saul’s son and David was in a long war with him. The two assassins rode to David, bringing him Ishbosheth’s head. They said to the king, “Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life.” David responded by saying it was the LORD who had brought him out of every adversity. And that LORD lives. David told the men they would die for slaying Ishbosheth in his own house, even on his own bed. And David’s men executed the murderers. David refused to operate according to a pagan playbook.
Now notice that David refers to his adversity. With adversity comes the temptation to despair and do nothing. And that’s not the way to go. But another temptation that comes amid adversity is the temptation to overcome it by any means necessary. “Nothing will stop me!” says the good old boys. “Nothing will stop me . . . not even the Bible.”
This point is a hard sell these days because people are naturally becoming more and more uncomfortable. No one can blame them for squirming in their chairs. Things are becoming more and more uncomfortable. The wheels are coming off the bus. And it is right about now that a decent man might say, “Bring me the head of my enemy on a platter and I care not how you obtain it.” People want the bad go away and they’re happy for it to go away by any means necessary.
But that is not how Christianity works. We don’t use the ring of power. It looks like it would help get the job done. I think it is our best option given the lay of the land. Can you imagine what we might accomplish if we just use it once? Yes, thank you for those observations, but we are Christians, I repeat, we don’t use the ring of power.
And if I might add one more correction, desperate times do not call for desperate measures. Desperate times calls for creative measures, unique, and sacrificial measures. But the saints don’t despair in desperate times. When they despair is when they get played. When they despair is when they reach for a human savior. And the problem with those human saviors is that they die.
But as David said, “The LORD lives.” He is the one who brings his people out of every adversity.