By Andrew McColl, 12th October, 2021
Whatever replaces humanism must be comprehensive: a world-and -life view that addresses every area of life. Its recommended alternative programs must also be philosophically consistent with its declared world-and-life view. If it is to survive over long periods of time, its recommended programs must also be practical. The programs must work, meaning that they must be consistent with the way the world really works, as well as consistent with its own presuppositions.
A world-transforming gospel is not one that offers a religious way of life whose visible positive effects are strictly confined to family and church-hearth and home-because people demand more from a world-and-life view than the promise of a safe place of temporary retreat when the work day or work week is done. What people insist upon is a system for their life’s work that really does work. What they demand, in short, is a system for dominion.
1st Samuel is a book of pain, that commences with the narrative of a corrupt priesthood, that God is about to judge (I Samuel 4). But 1st Samuel doesn’t come from nowhere. It’s closely related to the preceding book, the Book of Judges, and its multiple, apostate attempts by Israel to centralise government in an individual or a dynasty, all of which prove futile, leading to a civil war (Judges 20).
Judges chapter 9 sounds like an abbreviated version of 1st Samuel, without the corrupt priesthood. Gideon has died, and one of his sons decides to grasp power by murdering all his brothers, arrogating power to himself, only to finish up dying in battle, leaving a mess behind him.
Why is this relevant today?
Our real problems today with Covid and its spin-offs, have not commenced with government at all, but with the church’s leadership. The Bible describes the church as “…the pillar and support of the truth” (I Tim.3:15). But in my estimation, 98% of church leaders today are quite happy to go along with the Welfare State. This means that Education, Health and Welfare are dominated by government departments at a State and Federal level, requiring that a huge amount of taxation be exacted from the community. Yet none of this has scriptural sanction, for the Bible is a document that’s implacably opposed to the Welfare State.
God wants His people to be of great influence and responsibility in the community (see Eph.3:10), but that’s not what 98% of Ministers want. It’s not something they’ve been prepared for by their training, their doctrine, their eschatology or their experience.
But it’s all coming home to haunt them, and us. They don’t like the idea that books like I Samuel, and its tale of an apostate priesthood which God judges, should speak to our situation today, because that’s too daunting, damning and radical. After all, can’t we speak of the love of God for lost sinners? Yes, we can.
And we can and must speak of His judgments on His people when they’ve been disobedient to Him, and have failed to take His Word seriously. And we can associate our problems politically and socially, directly with the Church’s disobedience.
Judgment may not be a popular sermon theme, but scripture requires us to accept that it begins “…with the household of God” (I Pet.4:17).
Rushdoony pointed out that
The cleansing of the Temple was predicted in Malachi 3:1. The Temple was the house of God, His appointed dwelling place. God speaks throughout the Old Testament of the tabernacle and the Temple as “My house.” Our Lord in Matthew 16:18 speaks of “My church.” As against this, our Lord refers to the Temple as “your house.” When the sanctuary or church becomes man’s, it is doomed, because God will move against it. At the beginning and end of His ministry, our Lord cleansed the Temple (Matt.21:12-13). He cleansed it because it was properly His house, required to serve Him and not itself. The Temple’s rejection of an inner cleansing slated it for judgment.
Thus we cannot expect lasting community change will eventuate, until God’s people are on their knees in repentance, asking God for His forgiveness and mercy for our many shortcomings, and our failures to be faithful to Him in declaring the “…whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27), and the logical applications of His law to the community.
Maybe this is too much. Maybe, He’ll have to raise up a new generation of leadership willing to obey His Word, setting aside the compromises, the accommodations with the enemies of God, along with the acceptance of such things as Public Education, Health and Welfare.
And that would be consistent with 1st Samuel: on-going social pain, till there’s change in the church. It’d be easy to avoid this, and shove the issue back under the carpet where it’s been for three centuries, pleading that
We’re not under law but under grace,
You can’t mix religion with politics,
Or some other pathetic excuse for our disobedience to a holy God. But the issue remains the same, that
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb.13:8).
God requires that the house of God be cleaned up, and that we do it. He will not accept it left like some kind of moral pigsty, where acceptance and tolerance for abominable practices is the standard fare, because it’s not standard fare for Him.
Forty years ago, Herbert Schlossberg penned this:
Even the good kings of ancient Judah, who expelled the worship of the Baals from the temple, left the Asherim and their devotees undisturbed on the hills. So rooted in communal life these deities became, that it was unthinkable to be rid of them. In the late twentieth century the West is similarly plagued with major and minor idols, some of them all but invisible. It is hard to imagine a more important or satisfying role than to embark on the spiritual, intellectual, and political adventure of working toward stripping them, root and branch, from the land.
Wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?
 Gary DeMar and Peter Leithart, “The Reduction of Christianity,” 1988, p.360.
Rousas Rushdoony, “The Gospel of John,” 2000, p.23.
Herbert Schlossberg, “Idols for Destruction,”1983, quoted in Gary North (Ed), “Tactics for Resistance,” 1983, p.81.