The Godly Use of a Bad Attitude

Bad ideas deserve a bad attitude. Is it a virtue to look on the bright side of the slave trade? Should the father have had a positive outlook as the prodigal was exhausting his resources? Did the Lord Jesus Christ have a good attitude with the money-hungry temple merchants?

Paul tells us to “rejoice evermore” and again, “Rejoice in the Lord.” We must give thanks in everything for that is God’s will. But our rejoicing should be Christian rejoicing. Our King’s wrath is quickly kindled (Ps. 2:12) even while he is rejoicing. Perhaps Tolkien shows best how to sew these two threads together when he writes of the Rohirrim saving Minas Tirith from the Orcs, “They sang as they slew.”

Today I attempted to purchase cement for the little group of believers gathering on the mountain in Maboko. The price had gone from R75 to R99 after 4 and 1/2 months of government “protection.” Also, the scarcity meant that I had to spend more than an hour looking for a shop that still had cement.

The government’s intervention has cost many jobs, raised the price of a great many daily products, and set citizens against each other in a new way. A pastor about an hour away told me that his congregation not only refused to begin meeting again, but they said they probably won’t meet until 2021. At the same time, the people in that church have been actively returning to work, and standing in long lines. The pastor told me the people are significantly busier now than they were before the government took control of their lives, yet it’s too dangerous to come to church.

This morning when I went to renew my motor vehicle registration, hundreds had formed a line outside the post office. Several government officials didn’t like the fact that the people were lined up “too close” to each other, and so they began trying to move a line already stretching around the block. At this point, I was distributing fliers to the people about the Bible’s response to disease, when a wave of people were pressed back in such a tight mob that I marveled no one was hurt. Government employees herding, shouting, and pushing a long line of poor people does not deserve a good attitude.

In fact, it is sin to have such an attitude that will not be disturbed when men are treated like serfs. Even if the government officials had come out politely to take up their ridiculous task, they would still be forcing people on the street to obey some higher authority on something as basic as how to stand. Why doesn’t the government issue mandates about tying shoes while they are at it? A spirit of innovation cannot last long when the society is not even allowed to choose how it will stand, or even how it will breathe.

If we have a good attitude about submitting to constant use of masks, or standing far away from people, or neglecting church services, or letting the elderly die away from their loved ones, then the power of habit will form an intractable pattern of accepting what “official” voices say rather than Scripture, church history, and the truly wise.

Godly discontent stimulates holy invention. Luther did not have a good attitude about the 95 errors of the Catholic church, so he looked for a superior way. Carey was not content with the church’s neglect of missions. The American founders were not content paying taxes without a voice in the government. Paul the Apostle encourages discontent when he tells us to “earnestly desire the greater gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31).

A Christian’s good attitude should include submission to authority, trust in God, confident expectation of the glory of Heaven, and a life of good works. We should aim to laugh whenever possible. But this settled joy should not settle our ambition. Since sin is always active, we should be constantly dissatisfied with whatever it does or touches.

I do not have a good attitude about being forced to wear a mask anymore than Jordan Peterson when he was forced to say that a boy is a girl. A lot of good has been done by bad attitudes–if by that we mean a spirit of opposition and discontent to foolish, sinful, and damaging ideas. But by God’s grace, I would like to sing while I slay.

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Critical Race Theory at Central Baptist Theological Seminary

It is such a heavy task to mark error that very few are willing to do it, yet it is heavier to contemplate the growth of cancer unchecked. At pace with the world, critical theory and cultural marxism have been growing in the Southern Baptist Convention as well as other spheres, and many godly men have opposed it in the SBC. I had assumed that an institution like Central would have done the same, and perhaps they will gain courage to hold to truth in this area in the future. I have written to Dr. Bauder and a separate letter to the administrators. Dr. Bauder gave a short, supportive reply, but neither the administration nor the authors have responded.

28 July 2020

Dear Dr. Morrell and Faculty of CBTS,

Having already written to Dr. Bauder privately, it seemed best to address the leadership of a school that has often proved a blessing to me. The graduates and faculty of CBTS have helped me with the Word of God on numerous occasions. I have come to think of CBTS as an institution following the best of the last 100 years of American Christianity, and it has been on my short list of seminaries for my sons.

In the the last four weeks’ (26 June, 3, 10, 17 July) issues of In The Nick of Time, I was consecutively disappointed, alarmed, shocked, and angered for two broad reasons. While I do not know the men who wrote the articles, I have no doubt that they love the Lord Jesus, have preached his word faithfully, and led souls to Christ.

Problem #1: The most pressing issues facing American blacks were ignored.

1. Crime
How many black people have been killed by other black citizens since George Floyd died? There has been, predictably, an explosion of violence against innocent citizens as well as police officers and even little children. Why was this violence not covered in the articles?

2. Poverty produced by rioting
Economic devastation has come to blacks because of the riots or the ungodly governance that for many years has hindered the poorest communities. The principles of biblical economics are directly related to Christian discipleship as well as the flourishing or languishing of any people in a free society.  

3. Abortion
What about the black genocide of murdering black babies in the womb? Should any societal problem be talked about as frequently or denounced as strongly as this?

4. Fatherlessness
What about fatherlessness in black homes which has skyrocketed since the civil rights movement? How can black commentators like Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell, and Candace Owens as well as Christians like Voddie Baucham, Doug Wilson, and Paul Schlehlein see this problem, but not CBTS?

5. Culture
Ben Shapiro does not have enough grace to realize that Isaiah 53 speaks about the Messiah, and yet he could tell that most of the problems in the black community come from culture. Even CNN’s Don Lemon was addressed black culture, but not the leading public voice of fundamentalism?

The last four articles ignored all these concerns and in a few lines sounded like a Washington Post opinion piece. If these men truly write out of concern for black people, then why not deal with the real causes of their misery?

Problem #2: Worldly presuppositions formed the basis of the articles.

1. Assuming that racism is a major problem for American blacks.
Even the questions treated in the articles imply a systemic problem of racism in America. When great problems actually face black and white Americans, the articles chose to deal with categories created by critical theory as if that godless philosophy has some real insight for the church. If a black man does not have the right to vote or freedom before the law or the freedom to choose his own job, show us what things we can change, and we will gladly join you to remove needless government laws and overreach that impede the freedom guaranteed in the Constitution.

No minority has been more oppressed than the Jews, yet why don’t we have articles about their feelings? Because they move on and claim their next Nobel Prize. Prager U has even published a video by a black man urging black men to stop the victim mentality. It is more fitting to Pliable than to Christian to give space to a discussion about how hard life is in modern America because of racism. 

If this is “extremely callous and un-Christian” then why does Larry Elder’s new documentary “Uncle Tom” express this sentiment? Isn’t it insulting and un-Christian to think that black people are a fragile group that need to be coddled in order to succeed? Frederick Douglass thought so. In this way, these articles have assumed—like the world—the degrading conclusion that black people cannot do what the Jews, Slavs, Britons, and practically every other group has done throughout history.

2. Asserting the key tenets of critical theory.
The authors encourage us to divide ourselves on racial lines—not even by culture, and apparently resurrect past crimes done by other people who looked like us to other people who looked like them. “I believe White Christians should do the same.” That is, in the previous paragraph, they should be elated when another white does something good. This sounds like vain glory at best and a prescription for “anti-racism work” promoted by cultural Marxists. If a Swede and a Nigerian moved to America in 1970, they must regard all whites and blacks in this way even in the church? Christians today must “seize every opportunity [in books, church, university, TV, radio, podcasts, blogs, Facebook, and text messages] to publicly recognize” the evil of people who have a certain skin color? Was that lifted from a chapter in Robin Diangelo’s White Fragility?

If this thinking goes on consistently, it will soon explain that Whites (with a capital W) are part of the power structure, especially if they are men, if they marry women, if they worship Jesus, and if they own a business. All “these people” do not understand the “lived experiences” of Blacks (with a capital B) especially if those blacks are also women, if they give themselves to sexual perversion, if they worship the state, and if they are poor. It is now unclear who at Central Baptist Seminary believes these terrible pillars of multiculturalism because there were too many supportive statements and terms taken from this unbiblical movement.

Sociology, which Neil Postman says, “can in no sense except the most trivial be called science,” is used as the basis to promote the idea that the police in America are the bad guys. Having lived in Africa for 16 years I can testify to having been pulled over with my teammate by a pick up truck full of police who threatened us with automatic rifles. I have been stopped 29 times in 30 hours for bribes. Why not let a conservative black who was also a police officer speak about his “lived experiences”? 

Worst of all, the third bullet in Article 3 asserted the essence of critical theory and multiculturalism.

“For the White Christian, confession must be given before God and man for the failings of forefathers, biological or national, and even spiritual leaders, for the history they have made, and the product of their complicity and any suspicious theology that have brought us to where we are today.”

According to these articles, I and my sons must confess our racism while mainly black people have rioted and destroyed black homes and black businesses. Every week over the last two months record breaking numbers of black lives that are supposed to matter in Chicago have been snuffed out by criminals, and at this time, what the church needs to hear, what Christian pastors need to ponder is, how to be Woke?

Conclusion

My position is similar to Voddie Baucham, John MacArthur, Tom Ascol, and Scott Aniol as articulated often in public and crisply in The Statement on Social Justice. Currently, CBTS is taking the world’s position and participating in the unfruitful works of darkness, and Christians should be alarmed. If you will not retract the errors that have been printed, can you at least balance the scales by treating critical theory, cultural Marxism, white guilt, intersectionality, anti-racism, and radical feminism to the public hanging these Diabolonians deserve?

D’Aubigne’s History of the Reformation in England is filled with examples of men whose lives made courage incarnate though like Stephen their bones were broken. Academia is not typically the haunt of men of courage, but Central has been better in the past than the worldly academy. Are there none left from the ranks of the previously militant? I and a number of others would like to know what we can expect from CBTS. King Joash began in righteousness, but ended in ignominy (2 Chron. 24). I pray that CBTS will prove rather like Josiah, or Aragorn, or Tirian.

Sincerely,

Seth Meyers

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8 Reasons People Attend False Churches

After church on Sunday, four of us began discussing why people attend churches that do not preach the gospel. Here are the answers we came up with.

  1. To meet with friends
  2. To be protected from witchcraft
  3. To be entertained
  4. To feel pleased with yourself
  5. To receive money or gifts from the church
  6. To receive a “blessing” that will produce money
  7. To find a spouse
  8. To please family

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Everyone Should Love America

Whether you are a citizen of America, Cameroon, Nepal, or Indonesia, if you believe in Jesus Christ, you should love America. In fact, regardless of your religion, you should love America. Blacks should especially love America. Mexican, Asian, Indian, and even Muslim immigration to the USA says that they love America as well. Here are 8 reasons to love the USA with the most important at the end of the list.

1. Free speech

I baptized Tinache one of many Shona men who were beaten by supporters of Zimbabwe’s previous dictator Robert Mugabe. He and many others are afraid to speak about the politics or economy of the country because there may be repercussions. Jews in Iran are pressured to support the government in its hatred of the nation of Israel. The Chinese Communist Party wants to suppress speech in Hong Kong and even off its coast in Taiwan.

America has always had a free press, and the world has taken note of it. Since 1776, the number of countries that have moved toward free speech has greatly increased.

2. Freedom of religion

China and India do not allow freedom of religion—missionaries are restricted. At least 19 Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Mauritania have a state religion with heavy restrictions on evangelism and missionary activity.

America allows the religions of these intolerant countries to come to her shores and proselytize. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This freedom is necessary to the Christian faith which is built on people freely choosing to believe on Christ rather than compelled because of their nationality, ethnicity, or heritage.

One would think that all religions would only want adherents who actually believed their faith rather than those who slipped in by default. America is an enormous land of religious decision, and its existence has had a pleasing effect on religious freedom elsewhere in the world.

3. Equality before the law

From the beginning, America offered the protection of the law to all its citizens. Presidents were not kings because they too must be law-abiding. Originally, they rarely spoke to the nation, and the people were glad to go about their day by day work without thinking about the head of the federal government because he too was one citizen among many.

Thankfully America ended the slave trade 9 months after Britain in 1807. Although much earlier, all 13 colonies banned it in 1775. The fight against slavery is one of the most wonderful marks of America. Since the founding of the country, state after state fought against it and abolished it. Ultimately, slavery itself was ended in 1865 after 620,000 Americans paid with blood. Can any country show as much will over such a long period of time to make sure all men are free? Blacks should love America because they joined Britain to end the slave trade that began in Kenya by Africans and Muslims long before America was around (See Martin Meredith’s riveting history, The Fortunes of Africa, chapters 8 and 46).

But however the past transpired, today all Americans stand equal before the law. Would you rather go to court in Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, or America? Martin Cothran says that a society should be judged by its ideals, and if so, America’s ideal is for equality before the law.

4. Stable economy

Depending on what metric is used, the USA creates more wealth than the entire European Union combined. That has a tremendous effect on the poorest countries of the world because American investors send their money overseas to build factories, start businesses, and employ really poor people all the while paying taxes in those countries which are supposed to help build roads and hospitals.

America’s wealth helps many poor people since they give more to charity in a year than all the wealth created in a year by the entire country of 55 million South Africans. Everyone should love that generosity because it effects the entire world through missionaries, development projects, investment capital, universities, and many more ways. The hundreds of children in Rafiki schools in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia should love America as well as everyone who is cheering for those kids.

5. Innovation

Who has not purchased an iPhone or Microsoft Word or Coca Cola or the Ford Ranger or Nike shoes? Who has not taken a benefit from these American inventions: bottle caps, zippers, mousetraps, batteries, thumb tacks, shaving razors, air conditioners, tea bags, supermarkets, sunglasses, and microwave ovens? Americans have a can-do spirit which is why God used that country to save the world twice in the last 100 years. Why wouldn’t everyone love that?

6. Universities

The top four universities in the world are in the US: MIT, Harvard, Stanford, and Caltech. America is the undisputed champion in the world for universities with its 3,300 institutions. Many of those students hail from other countries, and that means they should love America. My great grandfather did not have opportunities to learn like these international students.

By far, America has the most seminaries for pastors and the church. If you are a Christian of any country, why would you not love a land that has trained so many people to serve God?

7. Biblical churches

Look at the local church map on Nine Marks Ministries and notice where the Biblical churches are. All of Europe has less than 200 dots on the map. South America under 50. Africa has 37. America has thousands.

If you hold to the Baptist Confession of 1689, notice where the churches are.

And why is it that this country produced so many churches? Where did they come from? Why would a South African or Pakistani or Cambodian Christian not love such a country? Why would all the Christians of the world not seek to become more like a land that can dominate its map with Biblical churches?

8. Missionaries

In the churches my teammate and I have planted, every single believer was converted by the gospel grace given first to America. Had it been handled poorly or wasted, where would they be headed today?

America sends out the lion’s share of missionaries. Of the churchplanting variety of missionary—the most apostolic of all who take the title, America sends an even greater percentage. Have you ever met a missionary from Germany or Argentina or Australia or Zambia? There are some from each of these countries, but a slow drip compared to the steady stream of Americans prepared to lay down their lives.

Were it true that Cambodia sent more missionaries than any society in the world, I would love Cambodia with all my heart. I would want to visit that country. I would want my sons to consider studying there. I would be happy if they took the Cambodian ethos that had so devoted itself to the Treasure in the field. I would study what is happening there so that it might be reproduced everywhere so that the earth might be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. I would be ashamed for the darkness of the country in which I lived. I would long for greater grace like that shining example.

I would not act as if that country did not matter, or as if my country were just as good, and I definitely would not attack the country pouring out its sons and daughters to plant churches anymore than the Queen of Sheba would have attacked Solomon once she had seen his temple and the majesty of his God.

The troops of American missionaries alone have earned it the right to be loved by all men who love the gospel or simply good education or development for the poorest places of the world.

Conclusion

Many imperfect things should be loved. Spouses, children, sinners, and the church of God are all stained with great imperfections. Even when God’s people are divisive, immoral, petty, and carnal, they are still called holy ones (1 Cor. 1:2). Too many sins have been perpetrated by America’s citizens and government, yet it is still exceptionally blessed among all the countries of the world. God has apparently loved America, and ultimately that is the best reason why we should too.

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Black Lives Matter Does Not Care About Black People

The movement known as Black Lives Matter (BLM) is not morally neutral. It makes certain claims and takes positions on theological and philosophical grounds that Christians must evaluate from Scripture. In this way, it is not merely an American issue. What are the claims made by this organization?

The most central claim is to fight for the freedom of Black people. Yet it is a miserable and justly angering reality that while highlighting a few high profile cases, BLM ignores the greatest sins and violence against black people.

1. Black babies do not matter to Black Lives Matter.

BLM fights when a drug-using armed robber is tragically killed, but they are silent as the entire black population is reduced by 50%. Catherine Davis and Bradley Mattes report,

According to U.S. census data, there were 18,871,831 black American citizens in 1960. Since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, abortion has killed an estimated 20 million black babies — more than the entire black population of 1960.

If all the deaths of black people from all causes in a single year were added together, the murdered bodies of black babies destroyed in the womb would still be more numerous. Abortion clinics are commonly placed within walking distance of black areas.

During the 8 minutes and 46 seconds while Derek Chauvin was kneeling on George Floyd, 5 black babies were murdered with the peaceful silence of BLM approving the blood shed.

Further, BLM finds space on their website to promote the destruction of the nuclear family (under the “About, What We Believe” tab), and their editors had to make sure that they publicly support men who call themselves women (same tab), but curiously, BLM just ran out of words before it was able to defend the wanton taking of these apparently disposable lives.

2. Black men murdered by other black men do not matter to Black Lives Matter.

Each year thousands of black men are murdered by other black men, and a statistical handful by the police. Overwhelmingly, these murders take place in liberal cities where government policies have formed a steep incline preventing success and even tumbling blacks backward. It is commonly reported that there were far more two-parent homes in 1940 among the black community than today. Government policies have paid the most vulnerable people to perpetuate and even pioneer the most self-destructive practices such as single mother homes.

Incidentally, this is why Christians must study Scripture and history so that they might be able to speak biblically about politics. The conditions of society set up by the political system have far reaching consequences in the habits of our every day lives. Those habits, in turn, produce the character that forms our lot in life.

BLM does not mention character. It does not have anything to say to the thousands of dead young black men. By shouting so much against the few cases it highlights, it has lost its voice when telling black youth what they might do to avoid the great risk of violent crime by improving their own character.

But in some ways the most egregious examples of BLM overlooking the murders of other black men are the murders of black police officers and other civilians killed during the recent riots. If a black man enters a home illegally, uses drugs, threatens to murder a black woman and her baby, and yet is killed by a police officer, he becomes a hero. Yet if a black thug murders an innocent black man protecting his own property, it is ignored.

Conclusion

White and black people who have no character will support BLM because it is far less painful than weeping and working to end the river of blood that BLM conveniently ignores.

Objection:

“Abortion and criminal homicide may be problems, but that does not mean we should ignore police brutality.”

If two men were embezzling from your company, the one stealing $100, and the other stealing $100 million, it would be wrong, sinful, and totally unjustifiable to ignore the greater and shout about the lesser. Until BLM shows any concern for the murder of hundreds of thousands of black people, we will refuse to follow their twisted logic when they profess to believe that black lives really do matter.

Until BLM opens its mouth about the great tragedies of abortion and black victims of homicide, we are under no obligation to believe their religious propaganda. BLM has an agenda, but defending black people is not germane to it.

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20 Questions for Pastors Who Believe Divorce is Permissible

In the past, I have listed the arguments for divorce and against divorce. If you are not familiar with the debate or arguments, then please read those posts. This morning I finished reading Daryl Wingerd’s excellent Divorce and Remarriage: A Permanence View. For those who have taken the position that the Bible sometimes allows divorce and remarriage in cases of adultery and desertion, I offer the following 20 questions.

Jeremiah 3

1. If God’s divorce of Israel in Jeremiah 3 allows for divorce today then must couples today also continue to be devoted exclusively to the sinning spouse (3:1, 7, 12-14, 22), call themselves married (3:14), and maintain their binding covenant (3:16-19) as God did with Israel?

Matthew 19

2. Are pastors today willing to prohibit divorce without any reference to exceptions or nuance or clarifications like Jesus did with the Pharisees’ question until someone raises further difficulties as the Pharisees did (Matt. 19:3-6)?

3. Are pastors today willing to make explicit statements against divorce and remarriage without any qualification as both Jesus and Paul did (Luke 16:18; 1 Cor. 7:39; Rom. 7:2-4)?

4. If the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus (Matt. 19:3), then how does that happen if he merely admitted that he holds to the relatively conservative Shammai school of allowing divorce whenever there is adultery?

5. Why were the disciples shocked (Matt. 19:10 cf. Mark 10:10) by Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees if Jesus were simply standing with one of the well-known schools (i.e. Shammai: Divorce is permissible for fornication)?

6. If the words “except for fornication” were not found in Matt. 19:9, would it be easier for you to accept that Matt. 5:32 was referring to betrothal and not to divorce within an already established family?

7. If the words “except for fornication” were not found in Matt. 19:9, would it be easier for you to see how Paul was prohibiting all divorce and remarriage in Romans 7:2-3 and 1 Cor. 7:10-11?

8. Would any readers today describe the words “except for fornication” as “clear and unambiguous” in the debate about divorce and remarriage?

9. How much weight then does the “some divorce and some remarriage” position place on two, admittedly unclear and ambiguous words?

10. If Jesus was listing an exception in Matt. 19:9, on what grounds does that exception not include lust and pornography?

11. If lust and pornography are included as valid reasons for divorce, then has the exception not become the rule?

12. What is the significance of Matthew’s record of Joseph’s attempted divorce of Mary as well as the exception clause (“except for fornication”) in Matt. 19:9?

13. Is there any evidence that Mark’s readers assumed that Jesus permitted divorce?

14. Why should Matthew’s account be chosen instead of Mark’s account as the interpretive grid to control the conclusions about divorce?

Romans 7

15. Does Paul use marriage to illustrate that only the work of Christ could save us from the guilt of the law in Rom. 7:2-4?

16. How many ways does Paul provide for a woman to be freed from her husband in Rom. 7:2-3?

17. If a woman may be freed from her first husband in some way other than death, then may not some people be saved from the law in some way other than Christ’s work on their behalf?

1 Corinthians 7

18. Why does Paul explicitly prohibit divorce four times in four succeeding verses (1 Cor. 7:10-13) if he really believes that there are two broad categories for divorce (i.e. fornication or desertion)?

19. Why are the prohibitions in 1 Cor. 7:10-13 so clear and the exception for desertion in 1 Cor. 7:15 so unclear?

Ephesians 5

20. Wherein is the error in this syllogism?

Proposition 1: A husband must be like Jesus Christ in His love for His bride (Eph. 5:25).
Proposition 2: Jesus Christ never divorces His bride.
Conclusion: A husband must never divorce His bride.

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Obedience That Dishonored God

To the government or king

  1. Doeg the Edomite obeys the king to murder 85 men (1 Sam. 22:18-19).
  2. The men of Keilah would have obeyed the king by delivering up David after he had just saved them (1 Sam. 23:12).
  3. The men of Ziph obeyed the government when they should have disobeyed (1 Sam. 26:1).
  4. Bathsheba obeyed the king’s request for her to break her marriage vow (2 Sam. 11:4).
  5. Joab sinfully obeyed the king’s request to put Uriah in a place where he would die (2 Sam. 11:14-17).
  6. Joab and the captains of the army sinfully obeyed the king’s command to number the people (2 Sam. 24:4).
  7. Two fools obey Jezebel and lie about Naboth (1 Kings 21:10).
  8. The men who took Micaiah to prison obeyed wicked Ahab in that unjust command (1 Kings 22:26).
  9. The inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem obeyed Manasseh to do more evil than the Gentiles (2 Chron. 33:9).
  10. The soldiers obeyed the Jewish leaders (Matt. 28:15).

    To the people
  11. Aaron obeys the voice of the people (Ex. 32:1-4).
  12. The Levite obeys the crowd from Dan (Judges 18:19-20).
  13. The Levite obeys the crowd of Benjamites to deliver his concubine for abuse (Judges 19:25).
  14. Pilate obeys the crowd to consent to Christ’s murder (Matt. 27:24).
  15. Herod obeyed the whims of the people around him to cut off John’s head (Mark 6:25-26).

    To parents
  16. Micah obeys his mother to worship false idols (Judges 17:3-5).

    To wives
  17. Solomon obeyed his wives (1 Kings 11:4).
  18. Ahab obeyed his wife Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31 cf. 21:25).

    To false teachers
  19. Peter obeyed the Judaizers at least for a time drawing other Christians with him back to Judaism (Gal. 2:12-13).
  20. The church at Thyatira obeyed Jezebel the false prophetess (Rev. 2:20)

Conclusions

  • The government often tempts men to sin by fearing the consequence of breaking the law.
  • Crowds of people lead men to sin because their desires are corrupt and their judgment is unbiblical. Pure democracy is not a godly system.
  • A wicked wife can exercise great power over her husband, and logically the reverse is true as well.
  • Obedience sometimes results from a lack of integrity and moral courage.
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Disobedience That Honored God

Against government

  1. Shiphrah and Puah disobey the Egyptian government (Ex. 1:17).
  2. Moses disobeyed the Egyptians government when he defended the cruel taskmaster (Ex. 2:11-12; cf. Heb. 11:24-27).
  3. Moses disobeyed the Pharaoh by sending the plagues (Ex. 5-10).
  4. Rahab disobeyed the government (Joshua 2:3-4).
  5. Samuel refused to forgive or unite with the king (1 Sam. 15:25-26, 350).
  6. David disobeyed the king to save his life (1 Sam. 19:12).
  7. Michal disobeys the king, her father to protect her husband (1 Sam. 19:17).
  8. Jonathan disobeys the king, his father to protect his friend (1 Sam. 20:9).
  9. The servants of Saul disobeyed the king’s command (1 Sam. 22:17).
  10. Saul’s armorbearer disobeyed the king’s command to kill the king (1 Sam. 31:4).
  11. Obadiah disobeys Ahab and Jezebel when they try to murder the prophets of the Lord (2 Sam. 18:4).
  12. Elijah disobeys Ahaziah even attacking his soldiers with fire (2 Kings 1:10, 12).
  13. Azariah and the priests disobey Uzziah when he tries to bring incense into the temple (2 Chron. 26:16-18).
  14. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego disobey Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:18).
  15. Daniel disobeyed Darius (Daniel 6:10).
  16. The magi disobeyed Herod (Matt. 2:10).
  17. John the Baptist disobeyed Herod (Matt. 14:3-5).
  18. The apostles and the early church disobeyed the government (Acts 4:3; 5:18, 28; 7:54; 8:1; et. al.)

    Against husband
  19. Abigail disobeyed her husband (1 Sam. 25:19, 37).

    Against parents
  20. Jacob left Laban without telling him (Gen. 31:20).
  21. Jonathan snuck out privately to attack the Philistines (1 Sam. 14:3).
  22. Jesus did not obey his parents when He stayed in Jerusalem to teach the priests (Luke 2:43, 48-49).

    Against master
  23. The donkey disobeyed Balaam though it had never disobeyed before (Num. 22:23-30).

Conclusions

  • Of all the instances of godly disobedience, the most common authority to rebel against is the government.
  • Disobedience in the home is very rarely honored (I could only find two examples, Abigail and Jesus).
  • The book of Acts includes many examples of godly disobedience often as a result of evangelism. Or, to put it in reverse, ceasing evangelism would have allowed the Christians to please the government in most cases.
  • It is not uncommon for Christians to disobey the government especially with regards to evangelism.
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Three Reasons The Holy War Surpasses The Pilgrim’s Progress

Were a short list composed of the greatest works ever written by man outside the Bible, certainly The Pilgrim’s Progress by the uneducated Baptist John Bunyan should be on that list. His mind dripped Scripture and Christian’s journey to the Celestial City has helped a great many people in the narrow way.

Yet Bunyan’s The Holy War is superior.

Summary

The holy war is the conquering of the beautiful town of Mansoul first by the wicked giant Diabolos and secondly by the golden prince Emanuel. The story follows six turns of the plot.

1. Diabolos conquers the town of Mansoul.
2. Emmanuel takes it back.
3. The town falls back into sin.
4. Diabolos takes it again.
5. Emmanuel takes it back.
6. Diabolos tries twice more and fails.

Covering the Whole Bible

If you do not know the Bible, the story will surprise you at every turn, and if you know the Scripture it may surprise you even more so. How can it surprise a Bible-reader? Bunyan secures verses from at least 54 books of the Bible turning them to his purpose of telling the story of redemption. Even after reading it three times, I am constantly amazed at how many doctrines and verses the author calls into service. The image of God is found in Mansoul’s Heart Castle. The Trinity is reflected by King Shaddai, His Son Prince Emanuel, and the Lord High Secretary who fully knows the minds of the King and His Son. The Covenant of Redemption is found in several places as well as total depravity, the glory of grace, a definition of effectual calling, the glory of the resurrected body, and nearly every other doctrine in Scripture.

The story is practically a systematic theology wrapped in a memorable story with fascinating characters. This is the first reason that The Holy War surpasses The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Intensity

Secondly, the Bible’s basic plot is terribly intense, and no other earthly metaphor captures that earnest, grim, desperate, hopeful tone as well as war. Jesus compares the Christian life to farming (Matt. 13:3-9), building (Luke 14:28-30), and taking a journey (Matt. 7:13-14). Paul agrees with these and even adds marriage (Eph. 5:22-32). But more commonly found in Scripture is the picture of a war.

  • Luke 14:31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle…
  • 1 Tim. 1:18 Fight the good fight… (Also 2 Cor. 10:4; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7)
  • 2 Tim. 2:3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Most of the books of Joshua and Judges are accounts of war, and these were given to us as our examples. Imprecatory psalms such as 55, 58, 69, 109, and 137 are written to produce in the Christian a warlike mood.

But even more so than these explicit references to war or fighting are the main plot lines of Scripture. Satan is a lion on the prowl hunting for our souls. His thousands or millions of demons are our desperate enemies. They are diabolical fiends with implacable hatred and immense power. The end of all those who oppose Jesus Christ is a lake of fire and brimstone for all eternity.

In The Holy War Bunyan writes about soldiers being “brained” and taking great wounds. He has townspeople lying dead in the streets. Men fight with bandages if by any means they might save their families. Nearly all of these intense lines are taken from different verses in the prophets.

The sobriety of this story calls up manliness that approaches the reality, and that effect on the reader is more palpable here than in Christian’s dangerous journey.

The Lord Jesus Christ

Thirdly, Prince Emanuel is the main character of the Bible and the main character of The Holy War. It is not surprising to hear that someone might weep while reading for a new kindling of love to Jesus Christ in this story. He is called the Golden Prince. His cross work is mentioned. His offices are the goal of the narrative. When He arrives to defeat Diabolos your heartbeat quickens. His speech that closes the book is like the grand finale of fire works. Bunyan’s presentation of the Lord Jesus matches for beauty The Letters of Samuel Rutherford or The Poems of Isaac Watts.

Perhaps there is an author who can paint our Savior’s Face with more lively colors, but if there is, I haven’t seen the portrait. And to the point of this review, The Holy War is more fitting to this pleasing task than The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Conclusion

  • The Holy War is a systematic theology covering nearly every doctrine of the Bible.
  • It captures the intensity of New Testament salvation.
  • Our dear Lord Jesus is magnified delightfully.

In these three ways, this book surpasses the other better known allegory and maybe all other books written merely by men.

Quotes
“For here lay the excellent wisdom of him that builded Mansoul, that the walls could never be broken down, nor hurt, by the most mighty adverse potentate, unless the towns-men gave consent thereto.” 9 compare with page 96, “But after three or four notable charges by the Prince, and his noble captains, Eargate was broken open, and the bars and bolts wherewith it was used to be fast shut up against the Prince, was broken into a thousand pieces.”

Captain Conviction says to the town: “Consider if it be not amazing grace that Shaddai should so humble himself as he doth. … Has he that need of you, that we are sure you have of him?” 51

“Mr. Carnal Security did after all this mercy bestowed on this corporation, bring the town of Mansoul into great and grievous slavery and bondage.” 163

Mr. Godly fear said, “Though several of their petitions should be answered with nought but silence or rebuke: For it is the way of the wise Shaddai to make men wait and to exercise patience and it should be the way of them in want, to be willing to stay his leisure.” 174

“Then they took courage, and sent again, and again, and again, and again; for there was not now one day, nor an hour that went over Mansoul’s head, wherein a man might not have met upon the road one or other riding post, sounding the horn from Mansoul to the Court of the King Shaddai.” 174

Prince Emanuel: “Nothing can hurt thee but sin; nothing can grieve me but sin; nothing can make thee base before thy foes but sin: Take heed of sin, my Mansoul.” 264

“And dost thou know why I at first, and do still suffer Diabolonians to dwell in thy walls, O Mansoul? It is to keep thee wakening, to try thy love, to make thee watchful, and to cause thee yet to prize my noble captains, their soldiers, and my mercy.” 265

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Should Christians be Concerned About Freedom?

If your only spiritual concerns deal with the propositions surrounding Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, you have spiritual eye problems. Some think themselves particularly far-seeing because on top of doctrines like atonement and inerrancy, they also care about election and sovereignty.

Yet political and societal freedom is also a Christian virtue. South Africa’s apartheid (circa 1964-1994) stood in opposition to Jesus Christ in part because it denied freedom to a majority of its citizens. Those freedoms are melting like ice in the sun when a black bride is pushed into the back of a police car on her wedding day for the crime of carrying on with their planned wedding when government officials decided that was too risky.

Christians love freedom because the Bible teaches that society should be free. Where does the Bible promote freedom?

1. Christians believe in freedom because the Bible teaches men are all sinners.

Jesus is very clear that we are all born sinners (John 1:10; 3:19; 7:7; 8:44, etc.). Because of the virus of sin, we are all untrustworthy. Given enough power, sin will dominate each of us, and history is a clear example of that. The barbarism of the destruction of the Ndebele people by the hands of Shaka and then again by the Shona kingdom in the north is one example. King Leopold’s vile treatment of the people in the Congo is another example. These men acted wickedly because they had wicked hearts. This is the uniform testimony of the entire Bible.

  What is a sinner?  
  Sinners have wicked thoughts continually. Gen. 6:5
  Sinners are committed to sinning. Gen. 19:11
  Sinners are like irrational sheep. Is. 53:6
  Sinners have only filthy rags to offer God. Is. 64:6
  Sinners have rotten hearts. Jer. 17:9
  Sinners have nothing to offer. Matt. 5:3
  Sinners are blind spiritually. Luke 4:18
  Sinners are condemned to be executed. John 3:18
  Sinners hate Jesus Christ. John 7:7
  Sinners are children of Satan. John 8:44
  Sinners do not desire God. Rom. 3:11
  Sinners do not understand truth. 1 Cor. 2:14
  Sinners have no strength or ability. Rom. 5:6
  Sinners are born with these conditions. Rom. 5:12
  Sinners are willing slaves of evil. Rom. 6:17
  Sinners are dead spiritually. Eph. 2:1
  Sinners are children of wrath. Eph. 2:3
  Sinners have a twisted moral compass. Tit. 1:15
  Sinners are enemies of God. James 4:4
  Sinners are criminals before God. 1 John 3:4

If this is really the case, then it applies to leaders as well. If we are all sinful, then the leaders are also sinful. If they have a great degree of power, they will use it according to their sinful desires.

Of course, individual citizens are also sinners, but in the capacity as a citizen they do not have power to infringe on the freedom of others. As a dictator, that sinful citizen can act like Idi Amin in Uganda or Sadaam Hussein in Iraq or Muammar Gadaffi in Libya.

Practically each page in history shows a similar story. This is why we want a president, not a king. He must be checked by the courts which must be checked by the Parliament which can be vetoed by the president. The 1.3 million government workers are all a collective group of sinners receiving paychecks larger than the average citizen and carrying power to enforce their ideas on the country.

Christians believe in the sinfulness of man, in fact, if you deny this, you may have forfeited any Biblical right to claim to be part of this religion. But if you agree that men are sinful, then naturally you will be distrustful of giving power to those in authority.

2. Christians believe in freedom because we love our neighbors.

Jesus told us to love our neighbors, and then he showed us what that means by giving to meet the needs of others. We want each person to be able to flourish in society by making whatever choices they feel will best tend to their good as long as those choices do not harm others.

At this point, someone will say that the lockdown is necessary as a means of loving our neighbors so that they will not die. That is a fine sentiment for individuals, but it is extremely tricky for government to determine. It is tricky because you do not know what all the citizens want, because your judgments are clouded by peer pressure, and because authoritative decisions rarely end in freedom. Some citizens choose to take the risk of riding in vehicles even though each day 38 people die in our country from road accidents and 3,200 around the world pass away from car accidents. Has the country voted to relinquish their liberties? Swimming kills 870 people per day around the world. Why have we not banned swimming pools? The USA loses 14 people per day from choking, and those lives would be saved if the government mandated soup as the only diet.

In the book Death by Government, R. J. Rummel shows that government has been directly responsible for 262 million deaths in the 20th century alone. Every one of those lives was lost because government did not respect personal freedom. But the majority of those murders was perpetrated while the officials were saying that they were trying to help. The government should never take away freedom because there is the possibility of risk. That is not loving your neighbor.

A large number of citizens would choose to take the risk of sickness in order to continue working, and when I allow that freedom to others, I am honoring their judgment and their choices.

3. Christians believe in freedom because each person must be allowed to read the Bible and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

If men must be free in the most important decision—what to do with Jesus Christ, then we may safely build a free society on all smaller decisions. The Great Commission presupposes freedom. How can we tell others the gospel if movement, church meetings, and travel restrictions are in place?

Incidentally, the great Baptist Roger Williams promoted the doctrine of religious freedom, and Christians today believe that every religion should be free to promote its ideas in society as well. If a majority of people in society are Islamic, they are free to put Islamic ideas into the government or schools. While Christians may not agree with Islam, they support the freedom that allows Muslims to be Islamic.

4. Christians believe in freedom because lack of freedom results in theft.

About 3,500 years ago, God said, You shall not steal. But in a society dominated by government, every one of those posts must be paid, and usually much larger than the average worker. As the government writes more laws, it needs more “public servants.”

Money for grants, social programs, handouts, and corruption also comes unwillingly from the average worker at a small company or farm. When government has more power, freedom is reduced because theft through unjust taxes are high. When a man has lost a certain portion of his material goods, he has lost the freedom of using them in the ways he would have if they had remained in his possession.

The government—which here in South Africa calls itself Government with a capital “G” and no article as if it were your Uncle Keith—calls the lockdown essential to save lives, but the cost is freedom. At the least, we should be clear on the price if we are forced to pay it.

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