As the Fighting Moderates Mount the Lone Bulwark

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Oscar Wilde once defined a gentleman as someone who never insults anyone else accidentally. There is a principle here that Christians can take and reapply in other situations. A “gold from the Egyptians” kind of scenario.

Last week I wrote a couple of pieces that stirred the pot in what I consider to be necessary ways. In the first, in my response to Alistair Begg, I used a couple of celebratory events that Christians could not attend in order to demonstrate how much more they should be unable to attend a trans wedding. The examples were a reception a man gave to introduce his girlfriend, for whom he ditched his wife of thirty years, and also the case of a man with a problematic alt-right web site that went big, and they were going to start up a print magazine, of the white nationalist sort, and you were invited to a grand opening barbecue. My answer was that of course you would not attend either one of these, but that the tranny reception was far more of an ethical debacle than the other two. All of them would be bad to celebrate, but you should make a point of not going to the tranny event, you know, like, five or six times.

This resulted in some murmuring on the Internet, and you all know how important it is that murmuring on the Internet be addressed. So I followed up with a piece critiquing the principle that is currently circulating among some conservative hard-liners, which is that of No Enemies to the Right (NETTR). I believe that our guiding principle should be that if God has enemies to my right, then I have a moral obligation to have enemies to my right. But I did grant a measure of wisdom to the NETTR impulse. We must not denounce anyone to our right simply because we are feeling emotional pressure from the screechers on the left, those who never cease demanding that we do so. They will not be mollified in any case, and so it is important never to try.

There are a number of important threads here, and so I ask you to stay with me.

Churchill’s Dilemma

An old English proverb says that “he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.”

When Hitler double-crossed the Soviets, invading Russia, Churchill was of course delighted. He famously said, “If Hitler invaded hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” And almost immediately, in a radio address to the British people, he said this:

“No one has been a more consistent opponent of Communism for the last twenty-five years. I will unsay no word I have spoken about it. But all this fades away before the spectacle which is now unfolding. The past, with its crimes, its follies, its tragedies, flashes away . . .”

The problem is that “the past,” with its crimes, follies, and tragedies, did not flash away. None of it faded away either. The accord that was made with Stalin resulted in the Allies supplying crucial war material to the Soviets which enabled them to tie Hitler up in knots for years in the East. There was a true short term benefit.

But of course, Stalin soon demanded that Britain recognize the Soviet annexation of a big chunk of Poland, which of course they couldn’t do—the invasion of Poland by Hitler was why they were in the war in the first place. Churchill managed to stall on that one. But this deal with the devil also resulted in large numbers of people, after the war, being loaded onto railroad cars at the point of Allied bayonets, to be shipped back to their doom.

And Churchill himself recognized the grim reality (that he had helped to create) in 1946 when he put the phrase “Iron Curtain” into wide circulation. So while Churchill was certainly a great man, we still have to say that, great man or not, history still has a way of unfolding and/or unraveling on you. Our guide is to be the law of God, and not some hot idea or stratagem that occurred to us at 2 in the morning on the way to the bathroom—like King Ahaz calling on Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 16:7).

The Eleven Words and “This is Dumb”

Some months ago, Stephen Wolfe, author of The Case for Christian Nationalism, tweeted that white evangelicals were the lone bulwark standing between us and the disaster of moral insanity. It should be of no great surprise that some people went nuts, because that’s what they do. After some back and forth, Canon Press (Stephen’s publisher) responded by saying something like “To be clear, this is dumb.” If you would like some more background on all of that, you can find it here.

And as everything about our culture continues to unravel, apparently on schedule, Stephen recently wondered aloud on X whether or not it was time for Canon Press to say the “eleven words,” referring to his “lone bulwark” tweet. I will have a counter-offer for him here in just a couple of minutes.

It is all very well for us to say “dumb,” but dumb how? As a demographic observation it was as true as the fact that the sun rises in the east, and that the grass is greener after it does. This kind of observation is a staple coming from the punditry class on all the talking heads channels. “Black women vote this way, Jewish intellectuals vote that way, and white evangelicals go in the other direction.” So as a demographic observation, Stephen’s tweet was as true as it gets. America keeps trying to commit suicide, and evangelicals keep getting in the way.

The problem is that the progressives and the reactionaries (to Stephen’s left and to Stephen’s right) have both fully embraced the same ontological mistake. The only thing that separates them is what they think of that mistake. The mistake is that of thinking that the evangelicals are the lone bulwark because of their whiteness. The leftists loathe what they do because it is grounded in whiteness and the reactionaries love it because it is grounded in whiteness. I love it because it is the lone bulwark against moral insanity.

So here is my counter-offer to Stephen. I would be willing to say eleven words, and would also be willing to try to get Canon Press to say them. But the deal would be that he would have to say them also. Here they are: “Zionist dispensationalists are the lone bulwark against moral insanity in America.” If we were to offer this up as a demographic observation, it makes the same kind of sense as does the white evangelical version because, in North America, white evangelicals really are overwhelmingly Zionist dispensationalists. And it would not appear as though we were sub-tweeting anything (Fourteen Words) because we are not Zionists and we are not dispensationalist. We would just be giving a hats-off, credit-where-credit-is-due kind of thing. And I do like the fact that even though they get all tangled up with that rapture thing, the Zionist dispensationalists do manage to be a lone bulwark.

This would have the additional advantage of ticking off some of Stephen’s reactionary fans. I refer to the ones who have that Jew-bone stuck sideways in their throats. This accounts for some of the noises they make.

Might As Well Steal Something

More than a few citizens have decided that if they are going to hang you for a thief no matter what you do, you might as well steal something. If absolutely everything about what you do is somehow racist, of the glaring kind, or of the micro-kind, or of the privileged kind, or of the dog-whistle kind, or of the showing-up-to-work-on-time kind, then racism is clearly not as bad as everybody used to think. Might as well lean into it, or so the thinking goes.

The responsibility for this state of affairs lies squarely with the left, who took a genuine moral consensus that America had gradually come to, and decided to monetize it into one of the great Hustles of History. That appalling story, at least in part, is ably told here.

But however it came about, responsible conservatives still have to deal with the reality of it. The imaginary charges of dogwhistling have resulted, through a long and tangled process, a congress of actual dogs. Some of them are pretty mangy.

Now I have been maintaining for a long time that any conservative Christian minister who is not routinely accused of racism and misogyny is a minister who is not doing his job. I have also maintained that if the charges are in any way true, as determined by the scales of the Temple, he is also not doing his job. Got that? Faithful Christians are slandered as racists and misogynists, and secondly, the slander is in fact a slander.

So whether or not they will call you a thief regardless, you still don’t get to steal anything. This is because we answer to God, and not to whatever constituency is currently trying to flatter you.

The Pella Church

The reason I fight for my right to qualify my words on ethnicity and sex the way I do is not because I want to make the race hustlers or misogyny-mongers happy. I know I will never be able to do that. I do it because I want to make it crystal clear that their accusations are false. I want them to have more than a few awkward moments in the day of visitation (1 Pet. 2:12).

I want to fight for the truth in such a way as to make people accuse me of being a bigot. I also want to fight in such a way as to make it manifestly clear to all the sensible observers that I am not a bigot. The point is not to endear myself to the progressives. The point is to fight the progressives more effectively.

This is why I am so delighted that my denomination, the CREC, is in the process of approving a memorial on all such issues, a statement that nails the issue down on all four corners.

The screaming need for such a statement was powerfully illustrated this last week when a CREC congregation in Pella, Iowa was attacked for ministering to and fellowshipping with some folks who would not have been included on the committee that drafted our memorial. You see, the Alistair Begg Rule only works in one direction. It would certainly be stretchy enough, but it only stretches to the left. On top of that, the situations are not exactly parallel. There is a difference between talking to someone who wrote an objectionable book and offering a toast at the book release party for said objectionable book. Alistair’s way is more like the latter, and the situation in Pella is more like the former—although that doesn’t keep the situation in Pella from being a real pastoral mess.

A photo was released online by a gent named Blake Callens that showed various folks associated with Church of the Redeemer in Pella sitting and talking together. These men, along with goodness knows how many feds, have been guilty of publishing various offensive things online. And when I say offensive, I don’t mean scare quotes “offensive.” I mean offensive-to-God offensive. Callens also released screen shots of those, in case you were curious. But Callens also tried pretend that the CREC, like Gallio, careth for none of those things (Acts 18:17). He left out the Memorial on Nations, as proposed by Hus Presbytery, and approved in its first reading. A reporter with his zeal should be able to locate the text of it. He also should have been able to find out the reason the CREC is in the process of adopting such a memorial.

The reason the memorial is going to be so helpful for us is that it provides us with two things. When an Internet ruckus starts up, like this one, it enables all the officers of the CREC to point to the memorial and say something like, “This is our position on all these matters.” The memorial does not require CREC ministers to stop talking with people with offensive and unbiblical views, but it is a good expression of what we believe are offensive and unbiblical views. And in the meantime, if anyone wants to insist that we must ignore all that, not to mention ignoring due process, and go along with their version of on-demand cancel-culture, we can just refuse. Pound sand, I believe, would be an appropriate expression.

“Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another.”

Acts 19:38 (NKJV)

But this does not indicate an unwillingness to deal with actual problems. The second thing a memorial does is that it helps us to keep ungodly bigotries (actual ones) from gaining positions of influence and leadership within the CREC. In other words, when there is an objective problem, and not one alleged by an accuser demanding “immediate action” by the Internet, we are in a good position to deal with it. We are doing it this way because we want to be approved by God and not by people with an obvious axe to grind (2 Tim. 2:15).

We saw this problem beginning to develop years ago, and so we began work on memorials in order to give us the tools that we would need to address it. In other words, this is not a reaction to some exposé. For example, here is one of the two statements issued by our presbytery, Knox.

On Ethnic Balance
We believe the human tendency to congregate around shared affections is natural and can be good—it creates the blessing of cultures and subcultures, for example. But as with all natural goods in a fallen world, there is a temptation to exalt it to a position of unbiblical importance, thus making it an idol. While an ethnic heritage is something to be grateful for, and which may be preserved in any way consistent with the law of God, it is important to reject every form of identity politics, including kinism—whether malicious, vainglorious, or ideologically separatist/segregationist.

Statement by Knox Presbytery (CREC), December 1, 2022

Read the Chessboard

At the same time, I would encourage everyone to look at the chessboard again, and look at where the pieces are actually located. It is not what some of these folks are blithely assuming.

The edgy brethren, let us call them, think that they are the real threat to the regime. They believe that they are the lone bulwark. They have seen through all of the lies. They took one of the red pills, and then six of them, and then they emptied the bottle. They believe that years ago the Moscow gang started down the right road with our little putt-putt reformation, but they have come into the brutal truth. They, and they alone, have faced up to the stark realities.

Moscow, with its worship services, and psalms, and feasts, and wedding ceremonies, and conferences, and publishing, and Canon plussing, and small business start-ups, and education work, and so on and furthermore, is simply LARPing. They, by way of contrast, know the truth about the Jews and the start of the Second World War.

But if that were the case, then why are people like Blake Callens using Pella to attack Moscow? Shouldn’t he be using Moscow to attack Pella? It is a question that is worthy of more development. Some other time perhaps.