Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (4)

ManinBubbleThe Consequences of Progressive Bubble-dom

Some may be wondering why I’m not being even-handed about the issue of bubble-dom.  In particular, why focus only on “progressive bubble-dom?”  The answer is that, although it is theoretically possible for a conservative, libertarian or other politically positioned person to live in a bubble, the fact that Progressives dominate our culture (mainstream media, Hollywood, etc.) and institutions (education, unions, high tech industry, professional organizations, etc.) means that non-Progressives have a much more difficult job of maintaining a bubble’s boundary.  Certainly many non-Progressives withdraw into groups that share their beliefs.  However, even within that group it is neigh impossible to avoid the onslaught of Progressive ideas and policies as they move through everyday life.

With regard to consequences, this has been a major theme of this Blog since it’s beginning.  Some of these consequences were introduced in the previous post, including moral contempt for, refusal to engage in discussion with and inability to utilize persuasive argumentation with non-Progressives.  These issues were examined in my recent posts on immigration policy, most directly in this concluding post (emphasis added).

There is, however, a general consideration that may be of use to explore as we exit this particular topic.  Although it has been indirectly referred to, it has not yet been specifically addressed.  That being Progressive Christianity’s all too common presumption of a moral, intellectual and theological superiority that excuses them from engaging as peers with those holding opposing perspectives.  I certainly am not claiming that this problem is uniformly the case as I personally know numerous members of this group who engage on the merits.

However, I believe the argument can be credibly made that, due to their undeniable success in occupying most key positions of social and organizational power, the Progressive movement has become far too dependent on intimidation at the expense of persuasion.

This strategy is pursued by never acknowledging opposition as being legitimate and by insisting that opposing points of view are motivated by moral defects.  Thus they are not seeking to persuade peers to see their point of view, but rather using social and/or organizational force to obtain submission.  Those who have been following this blog will have no trouble recalling cases where senior leaders in the PC(USA) have aggressively utilized these tactics.

It is the accumulation of these defects that has led to our current sorry state, in which any disagreement on policy degenerates into cruel name-calling.

“The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”

This irresponsible descent into character assassination over the slightest deviation from Progressive group-think has seriously torn our nation’s social fabric.  The recent tragic events in Charlottesville VA laid bare this damage.

There was a time in my (more distant) memory when the epithet “racist” was reserved for application to only those who identified themselves with or vocally aligned their opinions with groups that were openly racist in their ideology.  Yes, it was understood that all people develop stereotypes and preferences that are unfair to or stigmatize others, with the victims most often being black.  However, these moral failures didn’t rise to the level of “racist.”  That is, the assumption was that a person existed within acceptable moral bounds unless something that they said or did clearly proved the opposite.

Although there were steps along the way, the major break in this social assumption occurred with the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency.  For, to our shock and dismay, those of us who opposed his administration’s policies found ourselves regularly accused of racism because the head of that administration happened to be black.

In fact, so out of control did this situation become that the accusation of racism didn’t even have to be connected to a racial issue.  I’ve already documented the use of this vile tactic in writing by a Presbytery of the PCUSA in the debate on the definition of Christian marriage.  I must add that I was personally accused of being a racist (by an Elder in the PCUSA no less) while arguing for the position that Christian marriage is defined by Christ Himself to be the union of one man and one woman.

So, when a few hundred KKK and other white-supremacists gathered in Charlottesville to publicly demonstrate for their evil, hateful beliefs, and, one of these people committed murder, there was great need to discuss the issue of racist ideology in numerous public settings.  Many honorable, well meaning leaders and people did just that.

However, the problem is that, with the epithet of “racist” having been applied so indiscriminately and carelessly to literally millions of people, and, current Progressive leaders explicitly using the tragedy in Charlottesville to do this very thing, when many people heard the word “racist” they reasonably wondered if it was being directed at them.  So, when this topic was discussed, it was done within context of a “poisoned well” situation.

Thus, our nation’s ability to reasonably discuss what is surely an important issue has been undermined by irresponsible use of the very term required to hold that discussion. This is one tragedy among many that have rendered our Republic incapable of making progress in so many areas.

Yes, there is plenty of blame to go around for this current political and cultural collapse.  Many others have made excellent critiques of conservative and other group’s failings.  They should be listened to and carefully considered.  However, until the Progressive Left, including the PCUSA’a leadership, exits its bubble and rejoins the rest of humanity on terms of mutual respect the healing process cannot begin.


Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (3)

pcusa-bubbleThe Mainline Progressive Bubble

A Revealing Incident

Let me share an experience from the floor of the Presbytery of Chicago.  A large committee had created a draft statement on evangelism that was under review.  At one point we were asked to split into small groups to discuss the draft.  A colleague from my local church and I asked two Commissioners, one younger and the other older, to join us.  They were more than happy to do so, and we started the discussion.

We pointed out that the draft as written seemed to be less about Christian evangelism than it was about multiculturalism.  For, as far as we could tell there were minimal claims to any truth or value for Christianity.  Rather, it appeared to be just about getting along with all other religions and cultures.

This observation elicited an immediate angry reaction from the older Commissioner.  Rather than engaging in debate on this point they walked away while audibly speaking into the air about haters and racists.

The younger Commissioner remained engaged.  However, their response was that dozens of PCUSA elders and clergy of all races, sexual orientations, genders and cultures had come together to generate this text, so, it had to be correct because the creating group was so diverse.  We pointed out that there was also the dimension of philosophical / theological  diversity, which we didn’t see represented in the document.  They responded with the blank stare of one who is hearing something incomprehensible.

The Two Bubbles

Thinking back on this incident years later I realize that the responses of these two Commissioners are representative of the two types of bubbles within which our leadership live.  These bubbles need not be separate, but can be, in effect, two layers that create hermetic isolation.

The Social Bubble

The younger Commissioner was more than happy to continue our discussion to the end of the allowed time.  They showed not the slightest anger about or disapproval of our position.  Rather, they seemed amazed to be speaking with two such strange humans.  We elicited not anger, but rather curiosity.

Surely, even living in Progressive Chicago they must have been aware of people who hold strange, inexplicable beliefs.  However, here were two actual people, on the floor of the Presbytery of Chicago (!?), who were stating these beliefs.  What an unexpected and unique cultural experience!

Thus, we find here the bubble of social isolation, in which a person simply doesn’t interact with anyone who challenges their beliefs.  Everyone, of all races, cultures, sexual orientations and genders, in their wondrous diversity, agrees on the same thing!  It’s not that they aren’t aware that there are strange people who somehow have tragically not been brought into the Progressive fold, it’s that they simply don’t engage with any actual people like that.

The Ideological Bubble

The older Commissioner knew full well that people like us exist.  And, within the hearing of only a few of our words they walked away in utter disgust.  For, in their world, people who were stupid enough to say such things out loud could only be motivated by vile evil motives.  There existed zero intention to engage with such moral and ideological deviants.  So, away they walked, speaking our condemnation into the air as the haters and racists that we surely had to be.

Our Current Sorry State

There may have been a time in our country’s history in which the social Progressive bubble predominated.  I think of that, by current standards, innocent statement by Pauline Kael after the 1972 Presidential election.

“I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

But, after eight years of being accused of voting for someone who was likely the new Hitler (George W. Bush) into the Presidency and then eight more years of being called a racist, homophobe, Islamophobe, totalitarian, etc. for opposing Progressive policies, be they political or theological, the ideological bubble clearly now dominates.

There are so many examples from which to choose, but one that I consider telling fell from the lips of no other than Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader of the House of Representatives (emphasis added).

“And I say, this will be a little not in keeping with the spirit of the day of unity, but I say they pray in church on Sunday and prey on people the rest of the week, and while we’re doing the Lord’s work by ministering to the needs of God’s creation they are ignoring those needs which is to dishonor the God who made them.”

You see, it takes the rhetorical skills of the highest ranking elected Democratic politican to so seamlessly combine their political and religious bigotry into a single steaming statement of contemptuous hatred.

Of course, former Democratic senator from Wisconsin Russ Feingold (a Progressive favorite!) has made perhaps the most disgusting and definitive statement in this regard (emphasis added).

“The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are, … It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants.”

Yes, indeed, “finally, finally” the vile evil motives of all Republicans, hidden for generations, have been revealed for all to see!

Finally, lest you imagine that our PCUSA leadership is not within this same ideological bubble, consider the actions and statements of our current Co-moderators  and the Senior Pastor from one of our largest churches.  I should also point out that most of the cruel name calling referred to above was done in person by members of the PCUSA (see here for one written example).

The consequences of this ideological dominance in Progressive thought have been a major factor that has led to our current sorry state.

Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (2)

religion_politics-no-right-turnsConfronting the Absurdity

I’d like to focus on the following question:

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, if this result didn’t happen by chance, then why did it?  Could it be because the Democratic Party, the practical vehicle of Progressive Leftist politics, is under control of the mainline Protestant denominations?  Given the consistently shrinking membership of mainline denominations and clearly increasing secularism in the Democratic Party, this reason is exceedingly unlikely.

The most likely answer is that, having lost faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and rejected Biblical authority, the mainline leadership grasped the straws of “social justice” and secular political activism as the only means of maintaining any plausible reason for existing as an organization.  That is, having rejected God’s power and purposes they had no choice but to replace these with secular political power and purposes.

I’m certainly not alone in this position.  For example, here’s an excerpt from  Edward R. Norman’a Christianity and the World Order.

Christianity today is, in this sense, bing reinterpreted as a scheme of social and political action, dependent, it is true, upon supernatural authority for its ultimate claims to attention, but rendered in categories that are derived from the political theories and practices of contemporary society. . .

Also, my research into and analysis of the recent PCUSA decision to allow same-gender marriage confirms: hijacking of Jesus Christ and His Gospel for political purposes, rejection of Biblical authority, and embrace of Progressive secular sociopolitical causes.  More recently, I have documented (and refuted) the complete alignment between the PCUSA’s and Progressive Democrat position on immigration policy.

I suppose that a committed Christian who is also a committed Progressive Leftist might be able to square this circle.  However, even for them, doesn’t the subjugation of Jesus Christ and His Gospel under the authority of a secular, partisan political movement seem theologically and morally untenable?  For the rest of us, are we willing to ceed our faith in Jesus Christ and the interpretation of His purposes in the world to the Democrat Party?

I certainly do not ceed these things to the Republican Party.  Yes, I am a registered Republican and usually (but not always) vote Republican.  But this isn’t because I believe that this party has a monopoly on morality, let alone Christian truth.  Nor do I find anything close to uniform alignment between the Republican Party Platform and my Christian beliefs.  No, in a two-party Republic I usually vote (often holding my nose) for the candidate that I believe will do the least damage.

Every citizen is entitled to their own political beliefs.  However, no-one is entitled to avoid criticism if they are so absurd so as to claim that their secular political party and Christian derived policy prescriptions are always and forever in near perfect alignment.  That is precisely the implicit claim of our mainline denominational leadership.  And, it is long past time that we confronted the absurdity of this situation.





Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (1)

religion-politicsOpening Thoughts

Religion and politics can’t help but mix.  In fact, it is inconceivable that the committed follower of a bona fide religion would be able to completely isolate their faith beliefs from their political beliefs.  So, I will not be arguing for a separation of religion and politics.  However, this doesn’t mean that the mixing of these domains is without challenge and outright danger.

In what follows I will focus on this issue at the scope of my actual experience, that being a mainline Protestant Christian.  Even here the scope will often narrow to my specific denominational experience, that being a member of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA, 1983 to present) and one of its predecessors, the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA, 1958 to 1983).

As the title of this series clearly implies, my experience of Christianity and politics has led me to an uncomfortable place.  For, although I fully support our Christian faith as the authoritative wellspring of political thought, I also find that this relationship has been undermined and, more recently, utterly reversed.  This excerpt from An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America by Joseph Bottum provides a concise summary of the modern beginning of this religious/political ideology.

Formed in the victory of civil rights activism, a new version of the social gospel movement became the default theology of church bureaucrats in the Mainline.  The churches “increasingly turned their attention to the drafting of social statements on a variety of contemporary problems,” as the religious historian Peter J. Thuesen has noted, and their statements “revealed a shared opinion among Mainline executives that the churches’ primary public role was social advocacy.”

Note well — not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but “social advocacy” of a particular secular stripe.

When the then General Assembly Moderator, Heath Rada, addressed the April 18, 2015 Presbytery of Chicago Assembly meeting he had precious little to say about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  However, he had a lot to say about the effectiveness of the PCUSA’s social advocacy.  In fact, I’d say that the central theme of his “pep talk” was something to the effect of ‘Rejoice sisters and brothers!  The PCUSA is a highly regarded little cog in the Progressive political machine!’

Most recently (July 28, 2017), the Wall Street Journal published an article by Libby Sternberg titled “Why Not a Day of Rest From Politics?”  She wrote from the perspective of a member of the Episcopal Church, another mainline Christian denomination.  The first paragraph describes the deep roots of faith and fellowship that she experiences at her local church.  But the second paragraph well states the issue that many non-Progressive Democrat members of mainline denominations are now facing at an unprecedented level.

Yet I do all this knowing that my church is effectively a political adversary.  I am a Republican.  The Episcopal Church, like many mainline Protestant denominations, supports a “social justice” agenda that reads as if it were pulled straight from the Democratic National Committee Platform.

The same thing can be rightly said about the PCUSA’s focus and supported political positions.  And, due to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of members since the PCUSA’s decisions to allow ordination of practicing homosexuals and same-gender marriage, the aggressiveness and pervasiveness of this ideology is clearly on the rise.

I have covered this rise throughout this blog’s existence.  I’ll try to link back to relevant posts as I discuss this sorry state of affairs at greater focus and detail.

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (35)

King-David-at-Prayer-Pieter de GrebberClosing Thoughts (2)

The causes, nature and consequences of this “prison of guilt” were brilliantly summarized in an essay titled “The Strange Persistence of Guilt,” by Dr. Wilfred M. McClay in The Hedgehog Review.


What makes the situation dangerous for us, as Fredriksen observes, is not only the fact that we have lost the ability to make conscious use of the concept of sin but that we have also lost any semblance of a “coherent idea of redemption,” the idea that has always been required to accompany the concept of sin in the past and tame its harsh and punitive potential. The presence of vast amounts of unacknowledged sin in a culture, a culture full to the brim with its own hubristic sense of world-conquering power and agency but lacking any effectual means of achieving redemption for all the unacknowledged sin that accompanies such power: This is surely a moral crisis in the making—a kind of moral-transactional analogue to the debt crisis that threatens the world’s fiscal and monetary health. The rituals of scapegoating, of public humiliation and shaming, of multiplying morally impermissible utterances and sentiments and punishing them with disproportionate severity, are visibly on the increase in our public life. They are not merely signs of intolerance or incivility, but of a deeper moral disorder, an Unbehagen that cannot be willed away by the psychoanalytic trick of pretending that it does not exist.

This is the description of a culture in which the affected members feel guilt-ridden about every possible ill that exists in this fallen world because they have been convinced that it all can somehow be traced back to them as the prime cause.

Dr. McClay also discusses the means by which the post-Christian world has employed to deal with this overwhelming sense of guilt.

But victimhood at its most potent promises not only release from responsibility, but an ability to displace that responsibility onto others. As a victim, one can project onto another person, the victimizer or oppressor, any feelings of guilt he might harbor, and in projecting that guilt lift it from his own shoulders. The result is an astonishing reversal, in which the designated victimizer plays the role of the scapegoat, upon whose head the sin comes to rest, and who pays the price for it. By contrast, in appropriating the status of victim, or identifying oneself with victims, the victimized can experience a profound sense of moral release, of recovered innocence. It is no wonder that this has become so common a gambit in our time, so effectively does it deal with the problem of guilt—at least individually, and in the short run, though at the price of social pathologies in the larger society that will likely prove unsustainable.

Here we recognize that class of people who, by identification with the world’s certified victims, claim a moral purity (and thus moral authority) that places them above other mere mortals.  And, it is clear that in order to maintain this status they cannot support war, since it by definition is the act of a victimizer.  It is by these bizarre moral gymnastics that millions of people in the West have convinced themselves that support of civilizational suicide is the only moral path available by which their guilt can be assuaged.

The obvious issues are that:

  1. They actually are all just frail, fallible mortals, under the same curse of sin as are all the rest of us, and,
  2. They are proposing to sacrifice not just themselves, but all of the other human beings who find themselves to be members of Western Civilization, to the idol of their supposed moral perfection.

I am not here denying or diminishing the fact that there are victims in this world who are to be affirmed and assisted.  What I am opposing is the creation of a post-Christian (in and outside of the Christian church) moral economy in which the currency of moral authority is fraudulently credited only to those who most loudly claim victimhood or identification with the same.  Everyone else is thus arbitrarily condemned to the outer darkness of moral poverty, including any member of a certified victim group who won’t play by the established rules.

This post-Christian moral economy is irreconcilable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For, whereas this fraudulent economy separates humanity into saints and sinners via victim status (by gender, race, civilization, orientation, class, etc.), the Gospel unequivocally unites all of humanity in our common fallenness, our uniform need for a Savior.

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. …

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.  (Romans 3:21-25a, 27, 28)

Here we finally see the ultimate consequence of having succumbed to pacifistic, narcissistic and perfectionistic modes of thought.  For, we have turned our backs on the Gospel in order to obtain counterfeit moral currency. The fact that this ideology exists in general society is understandable. The fact that it exists in any church calling itself Christian is inexcusable. It is long past time for those of us who reject this moral con game to speak up, particularly those of us who claim allegiance to Christ’s Gospel.

bouguereau-david-the-shepherd-1895-210x300x72Thus, I return to King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart.  In this series I have attempted to reestablish the connection between King David and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I have also attempted to show how this flesh and blood man who lived within the challenges and joys of his era became, through God’s grace alone, the greatest king in all history.

David obtained this position not because he was a great man, but rather because God filled him with a great faith that no evil in this world could overcome.  By that faith he fought for his life and that of his civilization.  By that faith he was inspired to compose Psalms and prayers of wonderous beauty.  By that faith his reign served as a foreshadow of Christ’s eternal kingdom.

And, by this same faith our civilization can be renewed and defended.


King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (34)

Michaelangelo-DavidClosing Thoughts (1)

My primary purpose in taking up David’s life as revealed in 1 and 2 Samuel was to reestablish the undeniable connection that exists between this worldly King’s temporal reign and Christ’s eternal reign.  Although this connection is utterly obvious and thus unavoidable, yet our contemporary theologians, pastors and parishioners all too often have attempted avoid it.  Although they are motivated by numerous and sundry causes, one of the most prevalent is that David’s reign is related to Christ’s as a foreshadowing in time of what God has done in eternity.  Thus, when it is found that David’s life was at utter variance from the “officially approved” contemporary Christian model, powerful and deeply disturbing questions are raised about the credibility and truthfulness of that model.  So, rather than, in submission to Scripture, bringing their model into alignment with the testimony of Scripture, they all too often attempt to diminish if not outright discredit it.

Thus issue is of particular relevance now, as citizens of the West find themselves under siege from self-loathing, hateful internal ideologies; from aggressive new entrants who reject the foundations of our civilization; and from nations who are openly and proudly building the means by which to intimidate and even eradicate us.  Under this uniform assault from within and without the West’s confidence as a civilization worth preserving has been powerfully undermined.  Although that preservation in the vast majority of cases involves nonviolent acts, there are situations in which acts of violent self-defense by our governments may become necessary.

David faced this necessity through his entire life — from lonely battles with lions and bears protecting his family’s sheep to facing the monster Goliath to repelling King Saul’s murderous assaults to war with surrounding nations to civil war with his own son — David took up the sword and smote these enemies.  How can such a story, which is connected to Christ in unmistakable ways, be integrated into a pacifist conception of Christianity?  I don’t believe that it can be.  Those holding the pacifist position are welcome to explain how it can be.

This is not in any way an argument for violence as a first, second or even third option.  No, Christ did indeed teach that His followers are expected to live peaceable lives and to seek peace first and always.  However, as I demonstrate in the posts following that just referenced, the goal of peaceableness does not preclude the use of violence in extremity.

The final inexcusable insult is that God gave this bloody warrior the heart of a wondrous poet, capable of creating inspired Psalms of worship and beauty that have stood for millennia within God’s Word.  By their ideology a man can be a thoughtless warrior or a sensitive poet, but not both simultaneously.  As is usually the case with crude ideology, it constrains the world within arbitrary, false bounds that simply cannot encompass the actual complexity of reality.  Nor can it account for God’s acts of providence.

How do we explain the apparent dichotomy between David the man who acted in this world with such abandon, sometimes in exceedingly sinful ways, and David the king whose temporal reign is unmistakably tied to Christ’s eternal reign, and, whose house was used by God to be the source for Jesus Christ’s humanity, that being a “descendant of David?”  Unfortunately, the contemporary Christian church provides virtually no assistance to we perplexed parishioners. 

Since our contemporary clergy is either disinterested in or not up to this task, we must turn elsewhere to find the light of Christian guidance.  Dietrich-BonhoefferOne theologian who was forced to consider this issue in the most extreme of contexts was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who’s life is currently summarized in Wikipedia as:

a German pastor, theologian, spy, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book The Cost of Discipleship has become a modern classic.

Anyone who has actually read Bonhoeffer’s books, or, about his life, knows that he was a personally committed Christian and brilliant theologian who eventually decided that active (including violence) resistance to the Nazi regime was absolutely necessary to fulfill his Christian calling.  Thus, he had to wrestle with this very issue in order to act with a clear Christian conscience.  The following excerpt from Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy explains how Bonhoeffer eventually resolved the dichotomy under discussion here.

Bonhoeffer knew that to live in fear of incurring “guilt” was itself sinful. God wanted his beloved children to operate out of freedom and joy to do what was right and good, not out of fear of making a mistake. To live in fear and guilt was to be “religious” in the pejorative sense that Bonhoeffer so often talked and preached about. He knew that to act freely could mean inadvertently doing wrong and incurring guilt. In fact, he felt that living this way meant that it was impossible to avoid incurring guilt, but if one wished to live responsibly and fully, one would be willing to do so.

jail point of viewThis resolution harmonizes perfectly with David’s life as revealed in Scripture.  It absolutely rejects the perfectionist Christian pacifism that is at the center of most contemporary Mainline Protestant theologies; which appear to work hand-in-glove with the contemporary secular Progressive political movement.  Through Christian perfectionism they have built a prison of guilt into which their parishioners have been thrown.  That prison exists because it serves their interests, not because it is true to Scripture.

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (33)

daviddeath2David’s Last Words

2 Samuel 23:1-7

These “last words of David” are out of order in the Scriptural text, as he continues to be the subject of verses later in 2 Samuel and then at the beginning of 1 Kings.  However, the lack of chronological coherence need not prevent us from considering this passage from the perspective specified.

These are the last words of David:

“The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse,
    the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High,
the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
    the hero of Israel’s songs:

“The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
    his word was on my tongue.

Note that David’s utterance is specifically designated to be inspired by the Most High.  Thus, this is a case in which the general conclusion that Holt Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit … All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)… is specifically confirmed.

The God of Israel spoke,
    the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
    when he rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of morning at sunrise
    on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
    that brings grass from the earth.’

Here David appears to be speaking about the best case for rulers in this fallen world.  That is, it is a human ruler who should rule in the fear of God.

“If my house were not right with God,
    surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant,
    arranged and secured in every part;
surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
    and grant me my every desire.

David turns from the temporal to the eternal, where God’s mighty and mysterious acts of salvation come into view.  Yes, David’s house is indeed right with God.  We, with the benefit of Christ and the New Testament are now able to more completely understand the nature and implications of this undeserved state of grace (see Romans 3:21-31).  Note that, though David does not have these advantages, he yet places total confidence in both God’s act in this everlasting covenant and His faithfulness in the fruition my salvation.

But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns,
    which are not gathered with the hand.
Whoever touches thorns
    uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
    they are burned up where they lie.”

These very last words of David’s Last Words may strike contemporary ears as unworthy.  My first response is that, given the sustained and deep human evil with which David had to contend throughout his entire life, how could he be other than deeply affected, even to the very end?  Secondly, this is appropriate as a final warning to all who are blessed to be reading this passage of Holy Scripture.  That is, evil will not ultimately triumph in God’s eternal economy, and, He will support and uphold those in this temporal world who oppose it.

Finally, these last words confirm the entire theme of this set of posts, that being “King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart.”David-W&P

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (32)

feet_on_rockDavid’s Song of Praise (5)

2 Samuel 22:47

King David now concludes his prayer, giving all praise and glory to the Lord God his Savior.  Nothing here is held back as this elect man contemplates the depth and breadth of God’s salvation.

47 “The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
    Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!
48 He is the God who avenges me,
    who puts the nations under me,
49     who sets me free from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
    from a violent man you rescued me.
50 Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing the praises of your name.

51 “He gives his king great victories;
    he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
    to David and his descendants forever.”

I can do no better than allowing John Calvin to have the last word.  Recall that Psalm 18 is an almost exact duplication of this prayer from 2 Samuel 22. Note that what Calvin’s translation rendered as “seed,” the NIV has rendered as “descendants.”

And it is to be observed, that by the word seed [descendants] we are not to understand all his descendants indiscriminately; but we are to consider it as particularly referring to that successor of David of whom God had spoken in 2 Samuel 7:12, promising that he would be a father to him. As it had been predicted that his kingdom would continue as long as the sun and the moon should shine in the heavens, the prophecy must necessarily be viewed as descending to him who was to be king not for a time, but for ever. David, therefore, commends his seed [descendants] to us, as honored by that remarkable promise, which fully applies neither to Solomon nor to any other of his successors, but to the only begotten Son of God; as the apostle, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, (Hebrews 1:4,) teaches us, that this is a dignity in which he excels the angels. In conclusion, we shall then only duly profit in the study of this psalm, when we are led by the contemplation of the shadow and type to him who is the substance.

John Calvin commentary on Psalm 18


King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (31)

Ancient-BattleDavid’s Song of Praise (4)

2 Samuel 22:38-46

We now arrive at the place in King David’s prayer that so discomforts our Christian pacifist friends.  Here, King David, looking back upon his life, speaks of God’s sovereign acts by which David was able to defeat his enemies in mortal combat.

38 “I pursued my enemies and crushed them;
    I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
39 I crushed them completely, and they could not rise;
    they fell beneath my feet.
40 You armed me with strength for battle;
    you humbled my adversaries before me.

Yes, David is attributing the crushing destruction of his enemies to God’s providential acts of direct support.

41 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
    and I destroyed my foes.
42 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
    to the Lord, but he did not answer.
43 I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth;
    I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets.

David continues his vivid, unblinking description of the death and destruction meted out to his enemies.  They not only were killed, but their bodies were obliterated, becoming nothing more than dust of the earth.

44 “You have delivered me from the attacks of the peoples;
    you have preserved me as the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
45     foreigners cower before me;
    as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
46 They all lose heart;
    they come trembling from their strongholds.

There is no avoiding the explicit nature of David’s statements concerning God’s direct action in these matters of warfare.

I have on many occasions observed the rejection of passages such as this by progressive Christian pacifists.  The simple fact is that they will not countenance the possibility that the God revealed in the Bible would be allowed to violate their personal moral code.  No, they too often would rather disregard any offending passage than submit to the authority of God’s Word concerning God’s own nature.

In many cases they seek to dissociate David of the Old Testament from Jesus of the New Testament.  But, as I have pointed out in the first of these current posts:

In the first verse of the first Book of the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew, the name of David occurs at the twelfth word.

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:(Matthew 1:1, NIV)

Thus, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is tied in the most intimate manner with King David, a warrior and poet after God’s own heart.

I now ask: Is there anywhere in the New Testament where David’s conduct with respect to warfare is criticized, let alone disavowed?  None come to mind.  However, it is not only in the Gospel of Matthew where King David is directly tied to Christ’s Kingdom.  For, in the greatest theological Epistle, the Apostle Paul does precisely the same thing.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 1:1-4)

Note well that in reference to Jesus Christ “his earthly life was a descendant of David.”  

What, you might rightly wonder, is my motive for making the point with such force.  Is it because I am a warmonger?  Do I own stock in the arms industry?  Am I filled with hate for other nationalities, religions, races, cultures, etc.?  Or, as some of my pacifist friends have not so subtlety asserted, am I a defective Christian?

I don’t believe that it is any of these motives.  I would love to live out my life in peace, and to know that every other person will be able to do so as well.

I certainly understand that actions taken by the United States will all too often cause friction and conflict as they intersect with other cultures and countries.  Yes, and the reason for this will too often be in significant measure our own fault.  But this admission in no way absolves the others of moral responsibility for their actions.



Pacifism enabling Nazi Germany in September 1938.  One year later Europe was engulfed in total war.

This is the point of departure between myself and progressive pacifists.  For they, in order to justify demands for passivity on our part, insist that the the only group with moral agency in these conflicts is us.  Thus, those who attack us with terrorism and threaten us with destruction bear no responsibility for their evil.  No, they are just blameless puppets who are responding to the evil that we do.  It is thus they who dehumanize the other, turning them into subhuman creatures whose character does not rise to the level at which moral responsibility can be expected.


Omaha Beach, June 6 1944.  Non-pacifists begin to free Europe from enslavement and genocide.

The reason that there is a Western Civilization at all is because Christians of earlier ages didn’t falsely turn God’s Word into an excuse for cowardice and defeatism.  This statement pertains to a time as recent as decades ago and extends back through centuries.  If Western Civilization is destroyed and replaced by Political Islam or resurgent Communism, the resulting death and destruction across the planet will be far worse than if we had stood and fought.

But what’s all that compared to maintaining a faux sense of personal moral purity?  On the answer to that question hangs the fate of uncounted millions, both within and outside of Western Civilization.


The Ottoman Army surrounds Vienna in 1683.