Over the years, I’ve been very hard on quite a few pastors.
I see no reason to stop. My children and grandchildren will have to live in the world they don’t care about, the world they claim—with so much ill considered theology—to have left behind for their citizenship in heaven.
To be short, blunt, and brutal about it: if you don’t care about this garden called Earth, you don’t care about Jesus. You may not even know Jesus. If you don’t care about calling leaders to repentance, you spit on John the Baptist. If you don’t care about leaders who refuse to punish the wicked, you spit on the apostle Paul. If you think politics don’t belong in church, you spit on the Lord’s Prayer. If you write insulting books with straw man titles like “Why Government Can’t Save You,” you might as well be spitting on the believing Centurion or the Good Samaritan.
None of us have the luxury of cherishing the words “my kingdom is not of this world” and simultaneously reviling the words “all power in heaven and on earth is given unto me,” and the even more startling words, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Our theology must take all of scripture into account or we should end the pretense of teaching it.
For most of history, the history we measure with the term “Anno Domini” (the Year of Our Lord), Christianity saw itself as taking dominion over the world, and the sphere of that influence was defined by the term “Christendom.” (“Dom: a suffix forming nouns which refer to domain, (kingdom)“) We are talking here, very specifically, about the earthly “Kingdom of Christ.” The faith has been carried forward over the centuries by true believers who did not blush at the notion that God’s will should be observed on earth, as it is in heaven. The civil order would not be administered by theocrats, but by men who knew God’s will as being revealed by scripture and the church. These were beer drinking, wife-loving, poetry-writing soldiers for Christ—the guys who knew a Jesus who fed the flesh of defiant kings to the birds of the air. The victory, in other words, had already been won. The Lord of Hosts soldiers were keeping the King’s peace, not pining away for the next prophecy conference.
Enter dispensationalism and the quiet Jesus who seems to be waiting for the Devil to do his dirty work, so that he can come back and reign for a thousand years. Enter hyper-pietism and the notion that Christians cannot serve in the military or in politics. Enter “taste not, touch not” false piety and endless debates about female modesty and even silly lamentations over billiards, beer, and mixed martial arts.
No thanks, pastors. That’s not my brand of Christianity, because it isn’t Christ’s brand. He claimed to be the most high King of the Universe in Matthew 28, and I believe Him. He told us to sell our cloaks and buy swords, so I believe Him. He told us there was a time for war and a time for peace, so I believe Him. He turned the water into wine, so I’m drinking it.
In short, if you are pining away for a kingdom in the sky, and a reward in the afterlife, you are likely the sort of believer who will be both a bore here and bore there. The fact is that life is messy, depressing, argumentative, and sometimes celebratory. God wanted you to get at that life, and to have that life “more abundantly.”
Yes, when men of God opine about politics it gets messy. When heretical cults set up compounds, invade personal finance, and establish cruel, theocratic control mechanisms, they can go spectacularly awry, and they can give “dominionism” a bad name, but we can’t define ourselves by others’ failures. Just because Bill Gothard, Bethel Redding, and Doug Phillips got it wrong, doesn’t mean we have to.
If you don’t believe Jesus has something to say about music, dance, beer, poetry, sex, girls and government, you have a boring, incomplete gospel going for you.
And, yes, I have absolutely no time for it.