Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Where in the World is the Church...
is Evangelical Co-Belligerence (ECB) really the answer? (part one)

Jesus is not a Republican; Jesus is not a Democrat; Jesus is not a Moderate. He is not to be trifled with for political purposes or to be used as someone's cultural ideological Spokesman. He is God of very God--God the Son; and will not share His glory with another. Do you think He is impressed with the trivial co-belligerent ways of political, social, moral alliances; or expanding public "Q" ratings for some of His pastors; or that access to the oval office by some of evangelicalism's champions means real impact for the gospe? Of course not.

God's focus is not primarily on the family, cultural morality, or a runaway judiciary as some would suggest,—but on His glory, His gospel, His Word and His church. It seems to some that "ministry" has become nothing more than a cultural idol and governmental intervention evangelicalism's new "golden calf." It is clear though that faithfulness to Christ and His gospel has feigned tremendously in recent years and that the church’s money and influence has been prostituted by some for what amounts to be personal cause, agenda and gain. The church has been treated like a lobbyist group and political action committee. Prohibiting filibusters rather than proclaiming the faith is the mode of the hour. "Persecuted for righteousness sake” has been reduced to mean the secular media disagrees with some evangelical leaders political, moral, cultural ideology and harsh names have been hurled. That's not being persecuted for righteousness sake; that's just politics. They're not suffering for standing for Christ and heralding His gospel of sola fide, sola gratia, or solus Christus. But for the less than heavenly goal of trying to promote and create a cultural morality absent of His gospel.

America is a pagan nation, beloved; it has been for many generations. We live in a fallen world and, therefore, a crumbling society. The esteem of Biblical truth has been rapidly on the decline for years now and we are beginning to see the evidence of what neglect of the truth of God has produced. Even within the local church the authority of Scripture, justification by faith alone, the transcendence and holiness of God, "His absolute sovereignty, His ineffable holiness, His inflexible justice, His unchanging veracity" (Pink) are seldom preached; repentance from sin is barely mentioned and church discipline is all but deemed an archaic past remembrance of a more Puritan, simple naïve time.

Today sin is called sickness; disobedience is called disease; and adultery is called addiction—or has been reduced to being “extra-curricular activity” for the politicians. We are truly reaping what we have sown. Instead of calling people to the standard of Christlikeness and obedience to the Word of God as the cure, substitute means of sanctification are being offered. For example, sexaholic classes are now presented as legitimate in dealing with infidelity. A “therapeutic theology” has replaced shepherding and discipleship by pastors and elders who frankly are too busy, too preoccupied with other church matters, or don’t believe biblically that they are to faithfully “shepherd the flock of God” (1 Peter 5:1-4). Under an accelerated cultural flood of malevolence and the inability to confront it effectively, evangelicalism has developed a proclivity in the political arena—seen as the last bastion of hope that will curb the tide of moral decay. Co-belligerence found a voice, not out careful exegetical study of biblical truth, but out of desperation. However, fighting spiritual battles with carnal “weaponry” is ineffectual and an effort in futility in the battle of men’s souls (cp, 2 Cor. 10:1-5).

Politics: The Art of Compromise
Many theologically/doctrinally astute pastors, seminary presidents, and Para-church leaders believe it is through these political, legislative channels that “the resolve will come.” I profoundly disagree. Ingrained in the very fabric of the political genus is compromise—it is incumbent it be so. The Potomac-two-step is required learning for successful longevity in Caesar’s world. Biblically though, this just don’t wash. These are not men and women who live principled lives; but are purchasable for the right amount of political capital which election affords them. The “Rule of Law” no longer carries devotion to the Constitution, constitutional process, truth, or even the framers objectives. It is, “let’s make a deal” that governs our great land. If you think my assessment is over the top consider yesterday’s self appointed sub-Senatorial moderates against the “constitutional (nuclear) option” that Senator Frist was going to invoke today in resolving what Dick Morris calls “the virtual filibuster” staged by “Pinky” Reid and company. However, weak Senators, motivated by the expedient rather than the essential, with a weak resolve of “avoid democratic discord at all costs for it might hurt us with our individual constituencies for reelection” mentality, finally caved to pathetic compromise. “Lawyers…” (What did Shakespeare say?) Subjectivism is the acceptable absolute in postmodern politics.

As a Protestant Reformed Christian (I refuse to be known as an evangelical anymore) I believe that the cure for the moral suasion of our day is the proclamation of the gospel, the preaching and teaching of God’s Word and then living in obedience to its truth by the grace and indwelling work of the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16-21). Life transformation beloved—not political legislation—is the great need of the hour.

Hollow Christianity—The Mask of Religion
Dr. John MacArthur so aptly points out, “We want to say we're Christians, we just don't want to commit to what Christianity is. Our Christianity has become hollow. We are clearly pagan but we wear the mask of religion. Our nation is now affirming through its leaders, through its congresses, its legislative bodies, its courts and its judges a distinctively anti?Christian agenda. Anything and everything that is distinctively Christian is being swept away under the aegis of equal rights, moral freedom. And as believers, frankly we tend to resent this.”

This issue of how Christians are to be living in a worldly society can be a difficult one when you get lost in the fog of political pragmatics by trying to whitewash an unbelieving world with the veneer of “Christian morality” absent of the transforming power of the gospel of grace. The Scriptures know nothing of this kind of benign moral righteousness. However, when you approach the Word of God for the solution, the answers are unmistakably clear. In this important and critical hour we must be willing to ask the hard uneasy questions of each other even to the point of openly challenging each other to the veracity of the answers. This is not a day to succumb to simply being “nice” but to being truthful! We must not only ask how are we to live in a pagan world and function as believers in an unapologetic secularized society, but also how are we to combat the moral battles that are enraging around us and still remain consistent to God’s Word and honoring to the Lord for His name sake in our methods and alliances.

Cultural Morality or Evangelism?
Evangelical Co-Belligerence (ECB), is truly an American phenomenon and only an American phenomenon. Regrettably, the legacy of the early years of the 21st Century will read how evangelicals adopted a prejudiced political strategery equating a one-to-one corollary between conservative social activism with biblical Christianity. To this kind of politicized church, the church of Laodicea, we must say repent from your sin, return to Christ, remain in His Word and reform your ways. “For you say, I am rich. I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

Dr. John MacArthur, again, echoes my heart’s burden and cry on this issue: “I hear a lot of talk today about the church impacting culture… But frankly, folks, that's not our goal. That is not our goal. It sounds like a noble goal and I'm sure there are people who can see certain noble aspects of it and there may be some. But our goal is not to impact our culture by changing their moral values. Our goal is not to impact our culture by creating traditional values, family values through legislation or judicial process. Our goal is not to make sure that the United States of America adheres to a national policy that equates to biblical morality. That is not our goal. We are not involved in altering social morality. We are not involved in upgrading cultural conduct. We are interested in people becoming saved. That is our only agenda. If we're going to change our culture we're going to change it from the inside out.

You see, the church has one mission, we are a nation of priests. And a priest had one simple function, to bring people to God, to usher them into His presence. It is the only thing we are in the world to do. Frankly, if people die in a communist government or a democracy, it really doesn't matter if they end up in hell. If they die under a tyrant or a benevolent dictator, it doesn't matter if they end up in hell. If they die believing that homosexuality is wrong or believing that homosexuality is right and end up in hell, it doesn't matter. If they die as a policeman or a prostitute without Christ, they're going to end up in the same place. Whether they die moral or immoral will make no difference in their eternity. Whether they stood on the side of the street with the pro?abortion rights group and screamed for legalizing and maintaining legal abortions, or on the other side of the street against abortion and screamed to stop the killing, if they didn't know Christ they're going to end up in the same place. Right? That isn't the issue, the issue is salvation...the issue is salvation. And the sad reality is that when the church gets a moralizing, politicizing bent it usually has a negative impact on its evangelization mission because then it makes the people hostile to the current system and they become the enemies of the society rather than the compassionate friend.”

Let us press on then, beloved, to see how the Lord gave Paul clear instruction for young Titus facing a difficult culture and society on the island of Crete. The Apostle Paul answers the Evangelical Co-Belligerent dilemma completely in Titus 3:1-8. Four key things he instructs Christians learning to live in a pagan society: 1. recognize your duty; 2. remember your depravity; 3. rejoice in your deliverance; and 4. render good deeds.


Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

Jesus is not a Republican?

Years ago I heard Tony Evans speak at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Ca. The most memorable thing he said was:

"When Jesus comes back, he will not take sides. He is going to take over."

Gotta love that.

Kevin Jones said...

Hey Steve,

Thanks for the post. You're hitting on some things that have been troubling me for a long time. It troubles me that the Evangelical church seems to have become so identified with the Repulican party and conservative politics.

We have a message that is so much more important to proclaim. Moral issues like abortion and sanctity of marriage are important, but if that is all we stand for, than we really aren't any different than the Mormans (or Muslims for that matter).

Thanks for sharing your views.

The Reluctant Puritan

theinscrutableone said...


Thanks for your article! You've really nailed it: if the church is going to transform the world, it's going to do so from the inside out, as God sovereignly changes the hearts of sinful men and women. How foolish to trust in the transforming power of politics when we serve an Almighty God! I also appreciate your reminder that we ought to have compassion and pity on the sinners around us. Everything good that the Christian enjoys is a gift of God. We have nothing, absolutely nothing, of which to boast save Christ and Him crucified, so how dishonoring it is to God when we put on our Pharisaical robes and strive to force sinners to live as though they were saints, when we ourselves cannot keep God's Law except as He gives us the grace to do so.


AuthenticTruth said...

Steve, great post. This evangelical co belligerence really troubles me. It seems that evangelicals are willing to compromise biblical truth for the sake of the false notion that we can achieve victory in the culture war apart from the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ (sola fide) Evangelicalism today has certainly gotten sidetracked from our primary mission of proclaiming the gospel to the lost. Awhile back on the Pyromaniac’s blog, a post addressing this issue generated some comments from people that disturbed me to the point that I was compelled to discuss this on my own blog. It seems that many are clueless concerning the way that evangelicals are inadvertently distorting the truth of Scripture through ecumenical compromise. When the main focus becomes political activism and partnering with those chiefly concerned with fighting moral decay, it is inevitable that truth is going to be set aside for fear of offending these other groups, thus breaking the alliance. When the truth is watered down or muddled, it creates a great deal of confusion concerning the gospel – both within and outside the church.

4given said...

You wrote: "fighting spiritual battles with carnal “weaponry” is ineffectual"

There are times I cannot sleep. I am sometimes suddenly, at times, awakened by a burden to pray for someone or something. This time it is for my pastor and his family. We ate lunch with them this past Sunday. It is always a joy to be with them. This is a family that stands for uncompromising truth and you know what that means. (it means they are in an outright war fighting spiritual battles where carnal weaponry is ineffectual)

I earlier asked you how to define Evangelical because I am discouraged by what I see. I'm not ready to stop claiming to be an Evangelical Christian woman, but I do not know if it is because I am trying to hang on to something familiar for the wrong reasons. I just really don't know.

We can all get motivated by the expedient rather than the essential. ...avoiding that uncompromising Gospel truth which sadly causes discord ... avoiding it because it costs, it is sacrifice beyond what too many are willing to pay... we want to be liked and stay out of the uncomfortable battle... burying our heads in the sand.... too busy for the cause of Christ.

Interesting that you are writing about Titus 3. I have already shared that our church youth group is memorizing Titus. THey are on Chapter 3 right now and will be quizzing on it this next week... and interesting that you talk of Matthew Meed and the "almost Christian"... my pastors sermon this past Sunday was in Hebrews 6:4-6, "The 5 Characterisitics of the Almost Christian." It was excellent. He is expostitionally going through Hebrews. At the end of the sermon he said that we must grow in our abhorrence of sin... and if we are not, pray to God that we will and then be greatful of the grace of God that He does not stomp us out, but carries His children along.
Am I like Simon or Judas? Are my "beliefs" motivated by selfish reasons? Am I an imposter that is actually full of bitterness and bound by iniquity, unwilling to repent, unable to persevere to the end? Does His Word change me? Am I at God's disposal, continually ready for action? Am I moved and awed by preaching or by God's Word but unchanged by it? (red flags if that be so)
Am I eager to share what Christ is doing? Do I know Christ and the power of His resurrection?

Thank you, Mr. Camp... this is still a timely and true post and i am very thankful you reposted it. I have so much to learn. So far to go. What a longsuffering, merciful, all-powerful, perfectly holy, just and loving God!

Carla said...

Hi Steve,

I'm glad you put the notice at the bottom there, that this was a repost. As I read through it I was sure I'd read it before!

Timely indeed, and thoroughly convicting as well.

It seems to me that in our day so many Christian leaders have truly missed the boat when it comes to being leaders. Methods & marketing, programs & politics seem to take extreme precedent over the simplicity of preaching & teaching the Bible's truths.

Just like the childhood game of follow the leader, those under the leadership of these men repeat what they teach, and attempt to live out what they have told us is important. When they are critiqued or questioned, we spring to their defense. When we are questioned, we resort to a form of apologetics through the lense of "this is what my pastor teaches, how dare you tell me it's wrong?!".

Maybe I'm just extremely simple minded, but it seems to me that the gospel of Jesus is such a simple thing. We live according to it, we share it with the lost, and by the power of the Holy Spirit quickening spiritually dead people, in Godly sorrow and repentance, they come to Christ.

How did that get so complicated? When (and who?) was it decided that the gospel truth, lived & proclaimed was ineffective, and we needed new ways, political ways, cultural bells & whistles, and all sorts of other add-ons? When was it determined that the gospel message was insufficient in reaching the lost and we suddenly needed all these extras?

Well, I'm long winded, lol. I could go on about this for another hour or 6, but I won't. Good message, good timing.


Gavin Brown said...

there are many who attend the church where i am on staff who have no qualms letting you know that if you are a Christian, you ought to not only identify yourself with the GOP, but should be proactive in affecting political change for the "good guys."

this marriage of faith and politics gets all too unbiblical in a hurry.

what may begin as a genuine concern for God's truth in every aspect of life can quickly/easily become a battle to preserve and maintain a particular homogenous, social, religious subculture. in short, a subtle breed of idolatry.

BTW, the OT proof texts on this issue shouldnt really carry much weight with thoughtful believers.

Mike Ratliff said...


Thanks for posting this. This topic has long been on my heart. The Body of Christ is to be seperate from the World. In the World, but not be conformed to it. (Romans 12:2) Taking one political agendas, etc. brings in conformity to the world whether we intend for that or not.

I do appreaciate your Ministry.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

Jonathan G. said...


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. You put it into words so much better than I could. While our faithfulness to Christ should permeate every aspect of our lives and who we are, that should be done without compromise or apology. I liked this post so much I shared it with all 4 of my xanga readers. HA!


God bless, brother and keep it up,