When I read the title of the latest post over at Herescope: Restoring the Gospel of Salvation, I was excited to read it. The title of the article, however, was a bit different from the title of the post, which asks, "Does not the salvation of sinners trump national restoration?"
Without revealing my reaction after reading the editorial, I present it here - in its entirety - so that readers can write their own thoughts, comments, positive and/or critical reviews about what was written in the essay. I am especially interested in what other Christians think about the article, though all are invited to share their opinions as well. I plan to reveal my thoughts, comments and reactions to the post sometime over the next two days.
Happy reading! I encourage each Christian reading here to put on your apologetics hat and take some time to comment about what you have read!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Restoring the Gospel of Salvation
Does not the salvation of sinners trump national restoration?
An Editorial by Rev. Dr. Orrel Steinkamp
There is a new virus going around. Its called Christian political war gaming. Once the virus strikes it becomes a near obsession. I know a number of people who don’t get enough sleep because they are at their computers doing political war games. Once they lived healthy Christian lives. Their passion was the Gospel of saving individual sinners. Now they rarely have the time or energy for their former passion. Their affections have been alienated. They need a Gospel intervention.
Former websites that defended the Gospel of salvation now are mostly devoted to restoring an illusive American past and proving our present president is a stealth Muslim attempting to make America a Muslim caliphate. Joseph Farah, World Net Daily Christian conspiracy expert, is sure Obama has specific plans for Christian concentration camps.
Even if all this is true, why should this divert us from our mandate of preaching the Gospel to every creature? Why should we be attempting to infiltrate and dominate every political entity before the time of God's vengeance?
Paul wasn't worried about imperial palace intrigue in Rome. Obama is just being a politician from the Left. Like all politicians before him he has an agenda. We do not have to accept these principles and we can vote our conscience and financially support the campaigns of our choice. In the current political stalemate this could qualify me as a liberal. Well! I didn’t vote for Obama and I didn’t vote for McCain. I was comfortable with making a write-in choice, one I know my every reader would support. I don't like Obama's stance on many things personally, and I deeply resent his reference to two fathers on fathers day. But neither did I appreciate "born-again" President Bush's statement to Muslim leaders that we both pray to the same God.
Nevertheless, Romans 13 states with clarity that God puts up rulers of His choice for His purposes. I may not agree with God's choice and can't always see His purpose, but I am commanded to pray for the rulers our Sovereign God raises up.
Is it for Christian evangelists to suffer near frenetic emotional exhaustion in the political war games arcade? Is the eternal purpose of God hanging on such a thin thread? Is the biblical Jehovah really such a wimp deity, and a weak onlooker to the affairs of men, hoping Christians will overcome politically and take back dominion our God supposedly lost in the Garden of Eden and a establish the kingdom of God in the earth?
America survived Clinton, Hoover, and a corrupt Ulysses Grant, and it will continue to survive if it is God’s will. My God is a sovereign who could overcome Egyptian Pharaohs (after Israel was in bondage for 300 years) and could even raise up Cyrus, a pagan ruler, to accommodate Israel’s return to Jerusalem. Paul never ever looked to Rome except to use his Roman citizenship for the furtherance of the Gospel.
How must we look to the persecuted church? Are we by example suggesting they become political terrorists for the Kingdom of God and unnecessary martyrs? Janet Porter, in her June 8, 2010 WorldNetDaily column, suggested that some of us were like the pious Germans who held high their hymnbooks so they wouldn’t see the cattle cars on their way to exterminate Jews. (A classic false dichotomy.) What could they have done? Lay themselves on the tracks? The German Christians were culpable, not because of their hymn singing but because they made common cause with the goals and destiny of the Third Reich, as did the Vatican in Rome.
Jesus, whom we say is our example, shunned (not a strong enough word) political pursuits in the name of the Kingdom of God. Recall the story of when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. Peter rushed to action and struck off the soldiers ear. Jesus was so perturbed that He instantly restored it and said to Peter "put your sward [sic] in its sheath" (John 18:11).
The Jerusalem that Jesus entered was a political hotbed. The people were involved in every possible action to drive out the pagan Romans from the holy city. When Jesus entered on Palm Sunday He purposefully fulfilled an Old Testament prophesy of the coming messiah by riding into the city on a young donkey. "Hosanna in the Highest" the crowd cried. Hosanna means “save us now." They treated Him as political messiah who would use his supernatural powers to drive out the Romans and RESTORE JERUSALEM. Did they look for a suffering savior who would bear the sins of the people? Hardly! By the time Jesus went to the cross they were all long gone.
Even the Romans saw Jesus as political threat. The quisling Jewish leaders, in collaboration with the Romans, were afraid of a political uprising. But the Messiah came for the redemption of sinners, not a political restoration of the Jewish State. It is safe to say the reason Jesus died nearly alone is because it was not "His Hour" to Judge the nations. It was only "His hour" to go to the cross. Why did He die nearly alone?
The Jews, and even His disciples, expected Jesus "to save now, hosanna." The Dominionists today are crying "hosanna now." They claim we can restore what Jesus failed to do in His first advent. But the resurrected Jesus had to tell His disciples that it was not for them to know the times and the season that the Father has fixed, by His own authority," to restore the Kingdom to Israel.
On the cross Jesus could have called 10,000 angels for His rescue. But this would have totally contravened the plan of redemption from sin decreed by God (not "decreed" by a fake apostle!) from the foundation of the world. Redemption from sin remains to this day the focus of the kingdom of God. Jerusalem was filled with zealots (we would call them undercover militia). They were called the sicarii (Latin for dagger), for they hid daggers in their robes to assassinate Romans and collaborators. Even the Essene community at the Dead Sea was calling for a final battle between the Sons of God (Israel) and the Sons of Darkness.
Into this political milieu Jesus never uttered a solitary political word. He made it plain that “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). He, however, looked forward to when the Son of Man would RETURN and when He then would judge the nations. But until that great and awesome Day of the Lord, when the Savior would return on the clouds of glory, He was not striving for an earthly kingdom. He was content with establishing a church, His body upon the earth. Many in His day were offended by Him because He apparently had not political ambitions. Judas is speculated to be among them. Jesus asserted with force that His day to rule the nations awaited His second return, when He would judge the nations like a shepherd divides His sheep from the goats.
G. Peter Wagner, chief apostle of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), made a tactical decision to see Dominionism as temporarily consistent with democracy. I have not been able to locate when and where Wagner made such an "apostolic decree." But, indeed, the Kingdom of God cannot ultimately be a democracy. For Wagner and any other Dominionist, the democratic process can only be a way station on the road to their "kingdom of God on the earth," which is prior to the real Parousia.
Wagner's tactical decision (as opposed to strategic decision) was a major change. It opened the way for the false apostles and prophets to enter the political arena. So now "apostle" Lou Engle is free to lay apostolic hands of blessing on 3-time divorcee Newt Gingrich. Now the NAR apostles and prophets, thanks to Janet Porter and WorldNetDaily, can take their equal places in politics. Now they have the blessing of James Dobson, who endorsed Janet Porter’s May Day event at the Lincoln Memorial. Now Cindy Jacobs, prophetess extraordinaire, who had a visit of the Seraphim in her room that caught it on fire, can share the stage with Newt Gingrich. Now Rick Joyner, who has his own political action organization which he calls the Oak Initiative -- and who reportedly made a trip to heaven and heard Martin Luther repent of the Reformation -- can rub shoulders with James Dobson.
So now these self-anointed, self-appointed apostles of the NAR, laden down with false signs and wonders, false apostolic decrees, and false prophets -- who compete with each other in imaginary "can you top this" fraudulent oracles supposed to be from God -- have been given the kiss of acceptance by Christian Right politicians, including James Dobson. The apostles and prophets see this as a match made in heaven, a giant step toward appointing apostles as governors of every state and province in the world, complete with in-house prophetic seers to make supernatural decisions.
But I for one see it as blip in church history (like the Montanists of the 1st century), a match made in the pit of political desire for power before our King returns in His glory.