One of the more famous taunts against the fighting prowess of the French is that they are “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.” The jokes are plentiful, and can be pretty funny, and, like much of such humor, historically ignorant.
In the First World War, in that particular meat grinder of a war, the heroics of the French were unbelievable. But as a result of that carnage, the intelligentsia (among the victors) lost its stomach for any kind of fighting at all. So in the build-up to the Second World War, the French had sufficient military might to have easily stopped Germany any number of times. But the problem was not lack of courage among those who would have done the actual fighting, but rather a very real lack of leadership at the top.
We are seeing something very similar now. Americans know how to fight, and when it comes down to it, have been among the best fighters in the world. But we too have been saddled with feckless leadership, and even the best warriors require direction and leadership. And this is why, in the providence of God, modern American Christians needed to be instructed the arts of practical theological courage by a Frenchman.
I will return to the issue of leadership in a few moments. But in the meantime, while I say “saddled,” we need to remember that God is the one who has assigned this feckless leadership to us. And this was done, not because of their sins, but because of ours.
So the Plug Comes First
The immediate occasion for this post is the recent republication of two classics of Protestant resistance theology. The first is Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, a defense of liberty against tyrants, written by a 16th century Huguenot who wrote under the pseudonym of Junius Brutus. The second is Lex Rex, by the great Scottish Presbyterian theologian and pastor named Samuel Rutherford. Behind all the things that I might say throughout the course of this post, the basic takeaway is that you need to buy a copy of Vindiciae, and you are in serious sin if you don’t. Perhaps I expressed that too strongly. I will think about it.
Vindiciae is straight-forward read, saturated in biblical thinking, and the introduction by Glenn Sunshine is golden. The American Founding, which is being thrown away by your elected representatives as we speak, was downstream from this book, and in no small measure dependent on it.
If you have a tidy view of all things Romans 13, and you agree to read this book, you should prepare to have that view rocked. And by this, I do not mean “rocked by practical circumstances such that you are forced to drop Romans 13 because you are more realistic now and ready to compromise your commitment to Scripture,” but rather “rocked by how biblically literate our ancestors were, and by how biblically illiterate our current ‘cultural engagement’ leadership has been.” We are not the ones in submission to Scripture on these issues.
We are living in a tumultuous time. And having sheep without a shepherd is never a good thing (Matt. 9:36), but it is especially not good in the immediate aftermath of some kind of violence. When the shepherd was struck, as in the case of the Lord Jesus, the sheep were scattered (Matt. 26:31). And when Micaiah predicted that the battle would go badly for Ahab, he said that the armies of Israel would be scattered over the mountains like sheep without a shepherd (1 Kings 22:17).
Let us think back just a matter of mere months. Before all this craziness hit us, before the woke tsunami hit our luxurious beachfront property in the form of riots, before a number of American cities were wrecked, perhaps for good, Ligon Duncan wrote what he thought was a prophetic foreword to Eric Mason’s book Woke Church.
Now this is what I would call a radical misjudging of the moment. And I do not mean to pick on Duncan — it was a misjudgment that was shared by virtually all the cool kids in the upper echelons of evangelical leadership. Dylan once said that you didn’t need to be a weatherman to tell which way the wind was blowing, but apparently you did need to not be in evangelical leadership. Now that the reality has hit, where are the acknowledgements that this was a radical misjudgment? We didn’t expect you to see everything in the future while having that photo op taken with Adolf at the 1936 Olympics — but after he invaded Belgium, perhaps a word or two would have been in order.
So, appearing to change the subject but not really, did you know that if you wanted to rent a U-Haul truck to go from Portland or Seattle to Boise, it will cost you about 8 times as much as it would if you wanted to go the other direction? This is simply a handy metric to determine what direction the refugee column is flowing. It is also an indicator that there is in fact a refugee column. And it is also important to note that this is a column of ordinary Americans who have been left to fend for themselves — like sheep scattered over the mountainside.
No one raindrop believes itself to be responsible for the flood, and I get that. But our evangelical leadership has badly failed us. As a group, they were taken in by the false promise referred to in Thomas Sowell’s magnificent book The Vision of the Anointed. The subtitle of that book says it all — Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy.
And if you want your self-congratulation to really soar to heights “that’ll preach,” what you need to do is claim the name of Jesus for all of it. Good intentions don’t cover a multitude of sins the way love does, but good intentions can certainly generate a multitude of sins. And when the multitude of sins start to arrive, in the short term you can just continue to call them your sweet names. When they start to breed and multiply, and they start to dart here and there, looking like rats in straw, and you can see how ugly it is all getting, what you can then do is exactly what our elites have done, which is to GO SILENT.
Isn’t anybody willing to say that the last few years have been a disastrous mistake? And no, I don’t mean the officially designated compromise, that of the corn pones who supported Trump, but rather the actual compromise, that of our fastidious and #NeverCornPone leadership?
Somebody’s Bounden Duty
I said earlier that it was your bounden duty, in effect, to get a copy of this treasure from the past, read it, internalize it, and put it into practice. Well, I didn’t say all that explicitly, but it was all there in principle. I would also add this. If you are a person of means, then you ought to think about buying a copy for every governor of every state. Maybe every senator. Perhaps your mayor. Certainly your sheriff, and especially if your sheriff is a believer.
As you have possibly been swayed by what I have written, I am providing another link here.