Older men and young girls — the cor­rup­tion of faith

Orlando Sentinel - - OPINION -

When Jim Zei­gler, the state au­di­tor of Alabama, in­voked the Bi­ble to de­fend Repub­li­can Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore against al­le­ga­tions that he had in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tact with un­der­age girls while sin­gle and in his 30s (which Moore has sort of de­nied), it sig­naled per­haps the final stage in the cor­rup­tion of Amer­i­can evan­gel­i­cal­ism.

Zei­gler claimed there are many in­stances in the Bi­ble where older men had sex­ual re­la­tions with young girls. He cites Mary and Joseph as one ex­am­ple. That the re­li­gious left has made sim­i­lar analo­gies to ad­vance their po­lit­i­cal agenda is no ex­cuse. It proves my point. Re­li­gious lib­er­als long ago stopped preach­ing a gospel of per­sonal sal­va­tion in fa­vor of a so­cial gospel that is more so­cial than gospel.

Con­ser­va­tive evan­gel­i­cals are re­peat­ing this er­ror.

This be­ing the 500th an­niver­sary of the Protes­tant Re­for­ma­tion, po­lit­i­cally ac­tive Chris­tians would do well to read deeper than the 95 The­ses Martin Luther sup­pos­edly “nailed” to that church in Wit­ten­berg, Ger­many, in 1517. Luther was dis­tressed about the cor­rup­tion that had over­taken the Ro­man Catholic Church.

In an es­say for Mod­ern Age Jour­nal, ti­tled “Be­yond the Re­for­ma­tion of Pol­i­tics,” Alec Ryre, pro­fes­sor of Chris­tian­ity at Eng­land’s Durham Univer­sity, writes that Luther be­lieved gov­ern­ments were or­dained by God to re­strain sin­ners and lit­tle else. Real trans­for­ma­tion of in­di­vid­u­als and thus so­ci­eties, he rea­soned, could be achieved only by a changed heart, which is the work of the church, not govern­ment.

“In Luther’s view,” writes Ryre, “God per­mits these scoundrels to rule be­cause ‘the world is too wicked, and does not de­serve to have many wise and up­right princes.’ An­tic­i­pat­ing (James) Madison, Luther ar­gued that it is only be­cause of hu­man sin that God had in­sti­tuted govern­ment at all, in or­der to make some lim­ited sem­blance of peace and or­der pos­si­ble.”

That is the an­tithe­sis of the the­ol­ogy and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism of many mod­ern evan­gel­i­cals, who seem to pre­fer ac­cess to tem­po­ral power more than faith­ful­ness to a king­dom and King not of this world.

Ryre con­tin­ues: “[Luther’s] point, deeply coun­ter­in­tu­itive to most mod­ern sen­si­bil­i­ties, is that govern­ment is not very im­por­tant. It is nec­es­sary in a hum­drum way for as long as this pass­ing world en­dures, but Chris­tians should not pay much at­ten­tion to it. Their hearts should be set in­stead on the king­dom of Christ, where there is no law, and no co­er­cion, and which is not pass­ing away.”

There is an un­stated con­ceit among some evan­gel­i­cals that God is only at work when a Repub­li­can is elected, even a Repub­li­can who does not share their view of Je­sus, or prac­tice what He taught. It is the ul­ti­mate com­pro­mise, which leads to the cor­rup­tion and di­lu­tion of a mes­sage more pow­er­ful than what govern­ment and pol­i­tics of­fer.

Ger­man Protes­tantism made its own Faus­tian bar­gain in the 1930s. The­olo­gian Ger­hard Kit­tel joined with other Protes­tant lead­ers in a procla­ma­tion declar­ing Adolf Hitler “A call of God.” More like a call of Satan. Di­et­rich Bon­ho­ef­fer was the bet­ter ex­am­ple of a se­ri­ous be­liever who con­fronted the Nazis with the power and truth of that other king­dom and was mar­tyred for it.

Henry VIII pro­vides an­other cau­tion­ary tale when it comes to fus­ing faith with pol­i­tics. Here’s Ryre’s in­dict­ment: “Henry was no Protes­tant, but most English Protes­tants were will­ing to swal­low their prin­ci­ples for the sake of an al­liance with him.”

Prin­ci­ples are still be­ing swal­lowed to­day in ex­change for a false sense of in­flu­ence and power.

In the Book of Rev­e­la­tion, Je­sus says about the church at Eph­e­sus, which had been strongly in­flu­enced by the Em­peror’s cult and wor­ship of the Greek goddess Artemis: “You have left your first love,” mean­ing Him­self. (Rev 2:4)

For too many mod­ern Protes­tants, pol­i­tics has be­come a cult and their “Artemis.” They are for­get­ting their first love, the con­se­quences of which can be found in his­tory, dat­ing back to Is­rael’s King David, who warned, “Do not put your trust in princes, in hu­man be­ings, who can­not save.” (Psalm 146:3)

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