Making Sense of Progressive Nonsense (2)

1639626-Dessa-Darling-Quote-At-their-core-misogyny-and-racism-are-very

Have you ever wondered how it can be that those people who stand on the street corner loudly proclaiming their opposition to misogyny and racism can turn around and launch the most vile misogynist and racist attacks?  If so, first understand that you have just engaged in ideological “wrong think.”  But, if you, like me, persist in trying to understand what drives our current crisis, then read on.

Misogynists Against Misogyny!

220px-Sarah_Palin_by_Gage_Skidmore_2

Sara Palin

Take Sarah Palin.  Here we have a generally popular governor of a state that sends both Democrats and Republicans to Washington D.C.  Yes, she is in disagreement with the Progressive Left and may have been elevated too soon (or mistakenly) to a national ticket.  But how did that justify the vile outpouring of objectification and misogyny to which the Progressive Left subjected her and her daughter?

Consider this summary from a recent academic paper titled Sexualizing Sarah Palin: The Social and Political Contexts of the Sexual Objectification of Female Candidates:

While few opportunities existed prior to Palin to study women running for national, executive office in the U.S., it is safe to say that she has received the most sexually objectifying coverage to date (Heldman et al., 2009). Fourteen percent of Palin’s coverage mentioned her appearance, and it was often intensely misogynistic: “‘looks like every librarian in a Cinemax movie;’ a ‘VPILF’ (‘vice president I’d like to —-’)’” (Heldman et al., 2009, p. 12). Other media comments about Palin include, “‘I initially dismissed her as good-looking, [but] that backfired’; ‘Caribou Barbie…Malibu Barbie… Presidential Barbie’; ‘Winking Wonderwoman of Wasilla’; our ‘National Obsession’; ‘His cheerleader choice’; ‘Hugh Hefner asked Sarah Palin to pose for Playboy, because right now she’s posing as a vice presidential candidate’” (Heldman et al., 2009, p. 17). It is difficult to determine if her amplified objectification is due to her attractiveness, the new era of objectification, or both.

Or how about David Letterman making a “joke” about the statutory rape of Palin’s daughter on national television:

“One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game — during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.”

sarah-sanders

Sarah Sanders

You can find more recent sickening examples (many more can be easily found) for Sarah Sanders (see Comedian’s Sarah Sanders ‘roast’ stuns White House Correspondents’ Dinner) and

ivanka-trump-ici-en-2015-femme-d-affaire-redoutable-et-mere-de-famille_5569651

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump (see Samantha Bee hits Ivanka Trump with a filthy sexist attack — The silence on the left is deafening).  Finally, consider the  Linda Sarsour tweet from 2011:

“Brigitte Gabriel = Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She’s asking 4 an a$$ whippin’. I wish I could take their vaginas away- they don’t deserve to be women.”

Linda Sarsour went on to become a Progressive power player and highly visible leader in the Women’s March.  Apparently public, vile, violent fantasies about mutilating other women was not sufficient to prevent her ascension to the top of the Progressive movement.

Let there be no doubt, this vile behavior was from the Progressive Left.  There was no shame in saying these things, and virtually no criticism from our presumed Progressive moral betters in response.  That is, the very people who would have thrown a conniption fit had a female Progressive politician (or one of their daughters) been subjected to even 1% of this abuse had nothing to say about these incidents.  This selective deployment of moral outrage is nothing less than an implicit endorsement.  And a clear warning to any woman who is non-Progressive or who works for a non-Progressive that she can be subjected to this treatment.

We are bound to ask why, and, how Progressives justify such behavior.

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Satire Killed by Reality (1.5)

From our “Newspaper of Record”

Thanks to PowerLine

Screen-Shot-2018-11-26-at-7.38.12-PM

  • The shameless propaganda of Pravda in the “land of the free”
  • The self-lobotomized reasoning of an elite liberal arts “education”
  • Protected from experiencing the consequences of their ideology by the great nation they are attempting to destroy
  • Satire killed by reality.

See here for “satire killed by reality (1)”.

Making Sense of Progressive Nonsense (1)

PCUSA-Pastor

The Rev. Susan Rothenberg: “We welcome everybody here!” … “You don’t belong here!”  Wait, what?

A Logical Contradiction, or Not?

In a recent post I discussed the behavior and statements of the Rev. Susan Rothenberg within context of reality exceeding satire.  However, there is a far more serious, consequential aspect of this situation.  For, while it’s easy to point out the ridiculousness of her ranting “We welcome everybody here!” and “You don’t belong here!”, the fact that neither she nor her Presbytery saw anything wrong with these apparently contradictory statements should cause great concern.

In particular, the Rev. Rothenberg explicitly refused to apologize for her statements.

While I don’t regret what I said, I do regret the pain that it’s caused. … It has spiraled, and it’s incredibly sad that that has happened. I love my church, and I love my denomination, and I have deep regret for any harm they may be experiencing.”

The Pittsburg Presbytery also refused to in any way criticize her behavior or words, but rather sought to cloak her in the snow-white garb of official victimhood.  Speaking as the top official in the Presbytery the Rev. Sheldon W. Sorge said:

“The pent-up anger this has revealed is astonishing. Susan’s protest has had the effect of a breach in a dam, and the torrent of hate-filled speech it has unleashed is vast and truly alarming,” the letter said.

So, to recap, neither the Rev. Rothenberg nor the Rev. Sorge acknowledged that a PCUSA minister publicly (and hatefully) screaming an apparent logical contradiction (among other questionable ideas) reflects poorly on the denomination’s intellectual or moral standing.

How to account for this result?  A charitable theory is that they are so embarrassed that they pretend to not notice, hoping that it will just disappear down the memory hole.  There was a time years ago when I would have gladly grasped at this straw.

pcusa-dividedUnfortunately, the purposeful, sustained over decades, policy of the PCUSA elite has been the implementation of just this apparent logical contradiction.  That is, while claiming to be loving and inclusive, the PCUSA elite has hatefully pursued a policy of exclusion for members who oppose (or even don’t sufficiently support) their goals.  Compelling evidence for this theory is easily found.  For example, contempt of and hatred for non-Progressive PCUSA members did not prevent (and may well have assisted) election of our 2016 General Assembly Co-Moderators.  General hatred for non-Progressive citizens was hurled from the pulpit of one of the PCUSA’s largest and most influential churches.  A partial summary of recent behavior, actions and policies of PCUSA leadership reveals an environment that ranges from disrespect to open intolerance of orthodox Christianity.  Finally note that this group has brazenly and officially self-identified as those who demand exclusion of all who refuse submission  to their ideology.

And in response over 1,200 churches and one-million members have exited the denomination in less than a decade.  That’s right folks, the supposedly most “inclusive” ever Christian leadership has in reality excluded and then driven out a huge segment of its membership.  It would take a heart of stone to resist pointing out the ludicrous irony of this situation.

While the previous text describes the contradiction between “We welcome everybody here!” and “You don’t belong here!”, it doesn’t explain how PCUSA Progressives can logically justify this position.  It turns out that the Reverends Sorge and Rothenberg provide key insight.  While defending the Rev. Rothenberg:

Rev. Sorge said he does not expect any efforts within the church to oust his colleague and note that Presbyterians have a long history of supporting political activism.

When asked to explain her behavior, she responded:.

“We have to give voice to pain and suffering. And sometimes pain and suffering is not attractive and doesn’t look like we have it all together. And I think that’s what it looked like”

Thus, the fact that the Rev. Rothenberg was practicing “political activism” supporting victims of “pain and suffering” justifies her behavior.  And, by extension, the PCUSA’s Progressive elite can and does justify almost anything by this same logic.

Therefore, to expand the Rev. Rothenberg’s formulation, the PCUSA’s policy is:

  1. We welcome everybody [who claims to either (a) be a victim of oppression or (b) speak out for victims of oppression] here!
  2. You [victimizers who adhere to the orthodox Biblical doctrines of sin and redemption] don’t belong here!

obfuscationThis is how the PCUSA Progressive elite can pursue a policy that on the surface appears to be a logical contradiction.  They say (or in this case scream) the above bolded words aloud.  In their heads they add (something along the lines of) the bracketed words.  Perhaps we should start to take far more seriously the hidden sense in what appears to be Progressive nonsense.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and yours a blessed time of giving thanks to our Great God!

Screenshot-2016-11-23-at-9.48.29-PMPresident Abraham Lincoln proclaims a Day of Thanksgiving to God Almighty.

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Amen.

Stinging Satire from the Babylon Bee (3)

Keeping Satire Ahead of Reality is Hard

As you have probably noticed by now I sometimes enjoy the Babylon Bee.  However, I’m concerned that it’s fighting a losing battle with reality.  Consider their dilemma. They must somehow stay ahead of the ever accelerating lunacy that is occurring in reality in order to deliver satire.  That’s hard and getting harder.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 4.29.29 AMTake the PCUSA as a test case.  Back in 2017 the Bee published a satirical piece about the PCUSA’s position on inclusiveness.

“As a denomination, we just want to reiterate our sincere desire to extend a warm embrace to people of all backgrounds, as long as they don’t disagree with us on any single issue,” Rev. Craig Barnes said on behalf of the group, speaking to church leaders gathered at Princeton Theological Seminary. “We are totally committed to being accepting, loving, and never condemning—unless you’re a filthy, toxic traditionalist. Then all bets are off.”

The above excerpt’s quotes are, of course, made up and extreme for effect.  That’s simply a key aspect of satire.

PCUSA-Pastor

The Rev. Susan Rothenberg

However, a PCUSA minister recently created a public spectacle that in reality surpassed anything that the Bee could have imagined. Specifically, the Babylon Bee made up the quote by a made up PCUSA leader that “We are totally committed to being accepting, loving, and never condemning—unless you’re a filthy, toxic traditionalist. Then all bets are off” while an actual PCUSA pastor screamed in public that “We welcome everybody here!” and “You don’t belong here!” to the President of the United States and by obvious extension to those who support (or even don’t aggressively resist) him.

pittsburgh-presbytery

The Rev. Sheldon W. Sorge of the Pittsburgh Presbytery

As if to perfectly demonstrate in reality the entire satirical Bee imagined quote, the Pittsburgh Presbytery chose to only condemn those who objected to this behavior and tried to make the aggressor into a victim.

In an open letter titled “A Season of Travail” and published online Thursday, the Rev. Sheldon W. Sorge, the Presbytery’s general minister, expressed dismay at what he termed a “rush of anger unleashed on Facebook” at Rev. Rothenberg.

In an interview Thursday, Rev. Sorge said he was concerned by the level of animosity that has permeated emails, Facebook posts and phone messages that have flooded not only the Pittsburgh Presbytery but the church’s national office and presbytery offices elsewhere in the U.S.

The following paragraph in the same article is essential to drawing an informed conclusion about the Rev. Sorge’s response (emphasis added).

Calls have come in for Rev. Rothenberg, who currently works at a church consulting agency, to be dismissed or defrocked. And while Rev. Sorge said he is unaware of any threats of violence made, he said callers have resorted to denouncing Rev. Rothenberg in spiritual terms, telling her she can go to hell.

Yes, we can agree that a few responders saying “go to hell” is not an acceptable position.  However, if that’s the worst extreme in commentary by thousands of upset people then we can be confident that the vast majority of critical responses varied from thoughtful to angry, but were generally civil (see the end of this post for selected comments included in another article).

So, the Rev. Sorge backed his fellow cleric 100% and condemned all who voiced displeasure with her.  Is this stance any different than the Bee’s pretend statement that As a denomination, we just want to reiterate our sincere desire to extend a warm embrace to people of all backgrounds, as long as they don’t disagree with us?

Of course it’s not just the PCUSA who are making satire challenging.  So much so that the Instapundit site has created a tagline for those all too regular examples of reality challenging satirical imagination.

CNN UNVEILS NEW SLOGAN: ‘ORANGE MAN BAD.’

It’s the Babylon Bee, so it’s satire – or is it?

 

IT’S SATIRE, BUT IS IT REALLY? On Gender, Left Steps Up Effort Against Notorious Hate Group: Reality.

My theory is that this is a devious, brilliant conspiracy by the Progressive Left to destroy the Bee by making it impossible for satire to stay ahead of reality.

 



 

TheBlaze published an article on Rev. Rothenberg’s public outburst that includes a selection of comments found on Facebook.  While most are critical, not one crosses the line of civility.

The clip of Rothenberg yelling at Trump attracted over 29,000 comments on WTAE’s Facebook page since Tuesday evening. Most seemed decidedly against her yelling at the president:

  • “I guess she missed the entire point of the last few days. Hate is not welcomed or supported in Pittsburgh. She is fueling the very hate she says she’s against!”
  • “Wow are you kidding me? Leave your differences aside and stop being a disrespectful child in a time of mourning.”
  • This is not the Pittsburgh I grew up in, nor is it the Presbyterian Church I grew up in. The man wasn’t here to be with political people, but came with his family to honor the deceased and first responders, and visit those who were wounded. He did not affect you or the families of the deceased. Spewing hatred is the problem. I’m ashamed for these actions.”
  • “This lady just wanted attention. Notice her smile and cover her face than say sorry when she saw she was being recorded and getting the attention she wanted. She doesn’t care that her neighbors are trying to grieve for loved ones if she truly did she wouldn’t add to the chaos.”

But not every comment was negative:

  • “I feel her frustration. My heart aches for the family and love ones of those who were taken by hatred.”

Wow, pretty mild stuff.  But how dare the unwashed multitude criticize in any way the public behavior of a PCUSA minister!

Stinging Satire from the Babylon Bee (2)

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 8.19.23 PMThat’s Not Funny! Hmm…Maybe it Is.

While I was reading one of their “articles” my eye caught this link (see image on right).  Given that my blog is centered on orthodox Reformed theology the “article’s” content hit a bit too close to home for comfort.  To my shock and dismay I initially responded in a manner reminiscent of radical Feminists: flukeR1“That’s not funny!”  But then I thought a bit more and concluded that yes, there are indeed Calvinists who get way too wrapped up in their sense of holding a superior theology.  Heck, chances are that I’ve made people feel that way!

I also recalled a very sobering book titled: Predestination: The American Career of a Contentious Doctrine by Peter J. Thuesen.  It tells the story of how Reformed theologians discredited each other and the doctrine they claimed to love by delving into unknowable details of how it actually works in God’s mind.  Although they all claimed to be Calvinists, they all managed to overlook or ignore his wise advice on this difficult doctrine.

First, then, let them remember that when they inquire into predestination, they penetrate the inmost recesses of Divine wisdom, where the careless and confident intruder will obtain no satisfaction to his curiosity, but will enter a labyrinth from which he will find no way to depart. For it is unreasonable that man should scrutinize with impunity those things which the Lord has determined to be hidden in himself; and investigate, even from eternity, that sublimity of wisdom which God would have us to adore and not comprehend, to promote our admiration of His glory. The secrets of His will which He determined to reveal to us, He discovers in His word; and these are all that He foresaw would concern us or conduce to our advantage.

So, yes, we can take ourselves far too seriously.  It’s not that I doubt that Reformed theology is the closest thing I know to Biblical truth.  Rather, I can’t forget how I am also caught up in the fallen human condition, thus being capable of folly and failure just like everyone else.  One aspect of that humility is recognizing in our critics important aspects of truth, and in our mockers the same, with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 8.46.53 PMIt turns out that the Bee can also make good fun at the expense of Calvinism’s opponent, Arminianism.  The content is hilarious:

Carter calls the bridge a compassionate act of mercy on his part, freely offering everyone the chance to cross the bridge, if they can just muster up enough faith to step on the gas and launch themselves the remaining few hundred feet over the valley.

“We couldn’t go all the way across—that would be violating your free will, not giving you the chance to garner enough faith to cross on your own merits,” he said.

But the final punch line sticks it to us Calvinists again.

A competing Calvinist contractor also opened a bridge downstream: one that crosses the entire river, but isn’t open to the public.

That’s funny!

I’m currently working on an ebook titled God’s Acts of Providence to be published early next year.  It’s a serious and (I hope) compelling explanation and defense of Reformed Theology in the general area of Predestination.  It’s possible that as my finger hovers above the “publish” button I’ll break into a cold sweat wondering if the Bees will notice and respond.  If so, only my utter confidence in God’s providential purposes will give me the strength to press.

Stinging Satire from the Babylon Bee (1)

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 5.35.30 AMThese Guys are Pretty Funny!

One of the more subversive Christian sites currently on the Internet is the Babylon Bee.  I was introduced to it via a few secular sites that focus on Conservative / Libertarian politics.  If you are a Progressive of any stripe you’ll likely not appreciate their perspective.  However, you may have to admit that they are pretty creative when it comes to critiquing politics and current events.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 5.50.57 AMTheir primary modus operandi is to take an opponent’s position at face value and then  create overtly “fake news” articles that poke fun at their expense.  As readers of this blog would expect, one of my recent favorites is Progressive Group Launches ‘Center for Advanced Ad Hominems’.  Whereas my method is to seriously demonstrate the existence and destructiveness of this behavior the Bee assumes Progressive ownership of this tactic and then takes it to the logical (but credible?) extreme.  The text is funny, but it’s the accompanying photo that seals the laughter deal.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 6.40.42 AMOne major theme is opposition to Postmodern/Progressive Christianity.  As an orthodox Reformed Christian (i.e., when I vowed as an Elder to be guided by the historic Confessions I knew what they teach and meant it) living in the PCUSA I can’t avoid being regularly smacked upside the head with this theological perspective.  So, when the Bee goes after the ensuing doctrinal and organizational insanity I fully admit to taking (guilty?) pleasure in the results.

An alleged draft of the creed, which was leaked to the press Thursday morning, reads as follows:

“The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in our feels, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from our feels: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by the Scriptures, church history, or theologians.”

“Thus, things that make us feel bad, those are wrong. The things that give us all the happy feels, those are true, right, and good.”

“At least, that’s how we feel at the moment, I feel,” she noted.

Satire Gold!

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 9.44.42 AMAnd, lest you assume that these Bees live in a ideological bubble-hive, I give you this “article” about then candidate Donald Trump.

“‘Has-Been Bible’ says I’m not a Christian, but that is a lie, folks. I am a tremendous Christian—the very best,” Trump assured the nation. “These numerous verses from the Bible—which, by the way, doesn’t even have the courage to address me by name—but these verses that try to paint me as somehow un-Christian, they’re ridiculous and false, and it’s pathetic, really. It’s sad!”

Pressed for comment, the Holy Bible released a one-sentence statement: “You will know them by their fruits.”

But wait!  There’s more…it turns out that the Babylon Bee has waded into the doctrinal debate on salvation.  Can that possibly be funny?  Stay tuned.

The Christian Church in Revolutionary Times (8)

sorrow-humilityWhat is the Church to Do?

As I have noted the Christian Church cannot exist above the fray of secular politics.  However, neither can it allow itself to become a captive of any human ideology or political movement.  Tremendous damage has been done by supposed Christian leaders who have come to see the church as a vehicle through which favored secular policies can be pursued.  This danger cuts all ways, from Progressive to Conservative and all other ideological categories.

And yet there will be occasions in which a particular secular group’s position is superior to another’s from the Biblical Christian perspective.  However, it will never be the case that a secular political group’s policy prescriptions will always be the closest to Biblical Christianity.  Since I am currently in a denomination dominated by Progressive politics I have previously explained the absurdity of such an outcome as follows.

What is the likelihood that two organizations, the first driven by the passions and practicalities of contemporary human ideology / politics, and, the second built on Scriptures written by dozens of authors from approximately 1500 B.C. to 100 A.D. concerning the eternal, loving and just God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — would uniformly arrive at virtually identical moral conclusions and policy prescriptions?

The natural answer for most people would likely be “pretty much zero.”  That is, the differences in both the sources and deliberative processes are so vast that it would be absurdly unlikely.  And yet, this is the very absurdity upon which most mainline Protestant denominations are built.

That is, we are supposed to accept that the uniform agreement between a human political movement (i.e., Progressive Leftism) and mainline Christian denominations is a natural and credible outcome.  But, it is actually an incredible outcome, and one that any committed Christian, regardless of their personal political beliefs should find troubling.  Note well that it would be equally incredible and troubling if a Christian denomination uniformly agreed with Conservatism, Libertarianism, or any other secular human movement.

So, what then is the Church to do?  My recommendation is to focus first and foremost on the mission that Jesus Christ gave it — that being to preach the Gospel of grace and repentance to a fallen world.  The Church is in the primary business of seeking out and saving the lost.

A key component of that mission is to preach and teach the Gospel truth as revealed in the entire Bible.  That preaching and teaching should be based on the authority of Scripture, not under the authority of a preselected human ideology.   Sometimes one ideological position may appear closer to the Bible than another.  In other cases no human ideology will be anywhere close to what God’s Word teaches.

pride-v-humility-e-t-bensonThe Church must prayerfully seek to teach the Biblical truth and then let the chips fall where they may.  You can count on the church members to discuss and debate how, if at all, this teaching aligns with a given political position.  Different members will draw different conclusions.

The point is to equip all members to deliberate on their secular political responsibilities through the application of sound Christian theology and morality.  This should not be seen as a means of delivering a uniform political outcome.  However, neither can it be acceptable to remain silent when an influential political position clearly violates Christian morality.

In the end we must place our trust in God’s providential action.  We will each reason and draw conclusions.  Those conclusions will differ in scope, content and force across individuals.  If we seek to maintain a Republic consisting of free citizens then our only option is to create a space in which people of very different perspectives can discuss and debate in a humane manner.

If we understand ourselves to all be subject to the power of sin, all to be capable of error, all to be in need of a Savior, then it will be easier to find the humility to seek together towards Truth that lies only within the Mind of our God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  Romans 12:3

 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Amen.

The Christian Church in Revolutionary Times (7)

jesus_before_pilateJesus Christ on Politics (3)

Another indisputable political incident occurs when Jesus is brought before the Roman governor, Pilate.  The politics played between the Jewish leaders and Pilate is overt.  The Jewish leaders need Pilate’s authority to execute Jesus, so they seek to  influence Pilate to achieve this end.

As we will see, though the charges against Jesus are secular (i.e., treason), He refuses this frame of reference.  Regardless, Pilate had to make his decision within the constraints of power politics as they existed at that time and place.  It’s impossible to know if Pilate sensed the enormous spiritual forces at play within this event.  Other Gospel accounts appear to suggest that he did (see Luke 23:13-25).  In any case, it wasn’t Pilate who was in control, but rather the inexorable, omnipotent providential acts of God.  Following is the encounter as described in John 18:28-40 (NIV).

28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

This is an odd reply.  It’s as if they don’t want to state their charge against Jesus.

31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Clearly the charge against Christ was the treasonous claim to be the king of the Jews, which was a direct rejection of Roman rule.

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

Jesus doesn’t answer the question.

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Note that throughout the entire discussion Jesus hasn’t directly answered Pilate’s question.  The reason why has to do with the issue of “Truth.”  Jesus was accused of claiming to be the “king of the Jews.”  He was not.  Rather, He was claiming to be (and in reality is) the savior of all mankind — Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free.  Thus He could not in truth accept the charge.

However, Jesus also refused to explicitly reject the charge, because this was the worldly means by which the spiritual end of atoning for our sins would be achieved.  Jesus didn’t want to be acquitted.  After all, Jesus Christ is the Second Person in the Trinitarian Godhead, and, God had determined this event before the creation of the world.

So, by refusing to explicitly accept or reject the charge against Him Jesus was upholding the Truth while ensuring that His plan for salvation would proceed.

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

WhatIsTruth885x339

Here we may see in this sophisticated Roman politician a sort of proto-postmodernism.  There is no way to know if Pilate asked this question honestly, ironically or contemptuously.  Regardless, Pilate was taking the position that the “Truth” is something uncertain, and therefore, up for grabs  in this world.

there-is-no-truth-there-is-only-perception-6Almost two-thousand years later the real postmodernists would take the logical next step.  When postmodern Christians confront Christ today, their response has to do with truth, but it is not in the form of a question.

With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

That which had been predestined to come to pass had no option other than to occur.

The “politics” in which Jesus Christ engaged were infinite, eternal and providential in nature.  But this fact doesn’t disconnect our Christian lives from secular, political responsibilities.  Rather, it enlightens, informs and guides our deliberations as we navigate the challenges of this fallen world.  But this guidance can only be Christian if we acknowledge that there is an ultimate, unchangeable Truth and that it exists only in the Triune Christian God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This statement in no way denies that wisdom can be found outside of Christian sources. Nor does it denigrate the individual worth of any human being.  All it does is to acknowledge that we are Christians because Jesus Christ is indeed our Lord and Savior.

The Christian Church in Revolutionary Times (6)

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Detail of Fra Angelico, “Arrest of Christ”

Jesus Christ on Politics (2)

There is no doubt that during the Passion Week Christ was immersed in a highly charged political situation.  From the moment He entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey secular political fervor played a key role in the unfolding of events.  However, we mustn’t loose sight of the deeper truth that God was using these secular forces to achieve the ultimate spiritual end.

When the Disciple Judas arrives at the Garden of Gethsemane with the crowd to arrest Jesus the secular and spiritual domains intersected at a fiery point of great danger.  An angry, heavily armed mob has a high potential for violence.  But note how Christ takes sure control of the situation, ensuring that it is God’s providential purposes and not mankind’s passions that carry the day.  Read Matthew 26:47-56.

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

This is the point of greatest danger.  A member of Jesus’ group physically attacks a man who is acting under authority of the Jewish leadership.  The action would have been interpreted as removing all doubt that Christ is leading an overt rebellion.  Thus the likelihood that this specific situation would careen into open, indiscriminate violence had been maximized.  And, the likelihood that God’s purposes for showing mankind the extent of His mercy would have been utterly obscured.

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

Jesus first deals with His own follower (likely Peter).  He ensures deescalation by telling him to sheathe the sword.  He then calmly explains that He has no need for mortal intervention, as God the Father could protect His Son with infinite power were that His purpose.

55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

In Luke 22:51 a detail is added: But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Jesus has deescalated His own followers so now turns His attention to the arresting mob. He first explicitly rejects the idea that He is leading a rebellion.  He does so by pointing out the open, public nature of His ministry and the lack of response to it by the authorities.  By restoring the injured man’s ear He removes any immediate casus belli.  Finally, He communicates to everyone present that these events are not under control of mortals, but rather are directly and unalterably controlled by God’s providential purposes.

We here have a startling example of men being driven by their own wills in relationship with God willing His ultimate purposes within mortal action.  Yes, the passions of both sides drove words and actions.  The source of these human passions was the will of each participant.  However, God at every turn maintained perfect control of the situation.  Christ always said and did exactly the right thing to herd these unruly, dangerous humans onto the path of God’s ultimate purposes.

Had it been Jesus’ purpose to lead a secular political movement this encounter would have ended in violence and death.  But, as He showed repeatedly, Christ’s primary mission was spiritual — the saving and redemption of humankind’s souls.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)