I begin with the foundational axiom that Christ rose from the dead, and that He was who He claimed to be. Everything else follows.
Christ is therefore Lord. He, the incarnate one, was sent into the world by the Father for us men and for our salvation. He was born of a woman, born under law, lived a perfect and sinless life, thus qualifying Him to be our sacrificial and pascal lamb. He suffered on the cross, as was appointed for Him, He was buried in a stone tomb, and three days later, in accordance with the prophetic and ancient Scriptures, He came back from the dead.
Because He came back from the dead in this world, the clear implication is that He owns this same world. He has purchased it, with His own blood, and He does not intend to leave any nation on the counter. His purpose is to take all of them home. We Americans are included in this.
That is the message. That is the good news. That is the inexorable truth.
That Word Antichrist
Although the death and resurrection of Christ threw down the principalities and powers, and the forces of Satan were of necessity in full retreat, they still tried to resist. They opposed this divine rescue of mankind by means of the only weapon they had remaining, which was the power of cunning and twisted forms of lying. Certain gnostic spirits fanned out across the Roman Empire trying to claim that God had not in fact done this, and that Jesus Christ was not in fact God incarnate. They had lost the war, badly, and so the only thing they had left was to claim that they had not done so.
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
2 John 7 (KJV)
That Greek prefix anti- is interesting. Of course it means against, but it also carries the meaning of instead of. For example, when John is talking about Christ and the Old Testament law, in a phrase usually translated grace upon grace (John 1:16), the word there is anti. Moses was grace, and Christ is more grace (John 1:17), grace instead of grace.
The ancient antichrists denied that God had become incarnate in Jesus Christ. The modern antichrists deny that there is a God who could become incarnate. What they do not want is God in our midst. God has not become incarnate, or God could not become incarnate, or there is no God who could ever become incarnate. For them to grant that God is in our midst is the same thing as granting that their greatest rival is in our midst. They do not want to admit it, and so they don’t.
So whether we are talking about the ancient antichrists or the virulent modern ones, I think we should allow ourselves to feel the force of both meanings of anti. These people are not just against Christ in the sense that they do not want to follow Him. They are His rivals. They want to replace Him. They want to occupy that place, that coveted throne. They are against-Christs, certainly, but they are also instead-of-Christs also.
And whenever conceit gets inflated with this much spiritual helium, it can form quite a large balloon.
“I will now disprove the existence of all gods. If there were gods, how could I bear not to be a god? Consequently, there are no gods.”
We see here a high mixture of irrationality and hubris and conceit and also, in what mattered to Nietzsche the most, the will to power. We also see a total lack of awareness when it came to the compensatory nature of his mustache.
So if there is no God above us, then what we have down here is a scramble for that job opening. A vacuum is created (in their minds and aching souls), and those with a bad case of the libido dominandi jitters begin to make their preparations to ascend the sides of the north. But after a very short time, they discover that they are not actually ascending the mountains of self-deification at all, but are somehow lost in the canyons of madness. And night is coming on.
So the one thing they most want, they cannot have. It is far out of their reach, above the highest heaven. Christ is enthroned at the right hand of the Father, and no one can touch Him. There are no antichrists there. There are only pretenders down here.
They cannot reach Him. They cannot even pretend to have reached Him. What remains is to bluster and bombasticate down here.
De Sade and Nietzsche
Speaking of pretenders down here . . .
The Marquis de Sade (from whom we get the word sadism) made a serious attempt at living as though there were no God. It was not just a matter of doing whatever he felt like doing, there was a perverse imperative contained within it. It was necessary to attain to pure evil. Murder was permitted, and not only permitted, but necessary. Rape was permitted, and not only permitted but necessary.
This kind of thing, of course, ran him into trouble with the neighbors, and so the marquis spent a good bit of time behind bars. In his system, the one thing that was not permitted was Christianity. And this is where the inconsistent rivalry comes in. A genuinely pure relativism would say absolutely nothing matters. There is no God, and therefore it should not matter at all whether you devote your life to preaching peace and love among the Mennonites or devote it to pimping sex tourism in Bangkok.
If everything is meaningless, then the rejection of Christianity is also meaningless, and so you should quit doing that. But they can’t quit doing that because they are God-haters, not God-take-it-or-leave-it-ers. The atheism is a facade—they are anti-theists, not atheists. They do not want there to have been no God. They want no God now because they successfully killed and replaced Him. They want to play Zeus to Cronos.
But if all is permitted, including rape and murder, then why can we not throw the marquis into the Bastille? Why not extreme Pharisaism? Why couldn’t we put a shock collar on the philosophical marquis and give him a nice little buzz whenever his deportment was even the slightest bit out of keeping with the strictures of the Sermon on the Mount? Just enough pain, you know, to keep him bright-eyed and interested in life. Inconsistent, you say? Ah, but all is permitted, you should recall, including inconsistency. Inconsistency would be a form of consistency, and perhaps this might help us to understand the clown world that appears to be center stage for the present.
The kind of atheism that is current among our modern academics is nothing but housebroken Nietzscheanism, to use one writer’s description of it. These people are a joke. They want to move beyond good and evil in the classroom, and they also want to crack down hard on the fraternity boys for hosting a wet t-shirt contest. “They were all just deliberately insulting the dignity of women . . .” But for Nietzsche, women were just playthings for the warrior caste, or for the football players, whatever, and so everybody should just deal with it. However, in defense of the housebroken types, Nietzsche himself was also housebroken, and could never achieve the consistent state of courageous rebellion that he so lusted after. But Nietzsche knew how to write vivid prose, and they don’t, so there’s that.
So in this system all is not permitted. Christianity is not permitted. Christ is not permitted. Christians are not permitted. To be an orthodox and believing Christian is to be guilty of violating the only real taboo they have. So I would want to encourage you in this. Go right ahead. Be ultimately transgressive. Subvert the dominant paradigm. Challenge the status quo. Believe in Jesus. Find a cute girl and marry her. Have babies. If you are prepared to really get out there, have white babies. Take them all to church. Go ahead. Chicks dig bad boys.
The Double Standard Is the Point
When Christians complain about the double standard that is applied to us, this is evidence that we are still actually believing the earlier lies of the secularists. They promised neutrality, and they aren’t delivering neutrality. This is not really a double cross, because neutrality is not a possibility. If someone promised that he would deliver you ten pounds of round squares (for $10), and then failed to do so, this would not be a double cross. You, however, would still be a chump for believing that he was going to.
So the secular pretense is now over, the mask has come off, and we should also quit kidding ourselves. Quit waiting for the round squares, and write off the $10. Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. And a wise man’s heart goes to the right, while a fool’s heart to the left.
It is either Christ or the gods of chaos. Since we are baptized Christians, we should know what to do when presented with a choice like that. Christ is Lord, and this is not limited to some cozy spiritual realm behind your eyes and between your ears. Christ is Lord of the United States, the Lord of Idaho, and the Lord of Latah County. Christ is Lord, and we must confess Him as Lord.
And by Lord, I do not mean the Lord of some invisible spiritual realm. I mean the Lord of lords, and King of kings, and Emperor of emperors. I mean that He is the desire of nations now, prior to the general resurrection. This will not be brought about through a referendum, or a general election. Jesus is not running for president, and we are not His campaign staff. Rather, He has already been crowned, and He already holds the scepter, and we are the heralds sent out into the hinterlands to tell the people that their capital city has fallen, and that the new king has been crowned. We are two thousand years into His reign, and of the increase in His government there will be no end.
That is the message, and it is a good one. It is full of grace and truth.
Law and Liberty
But there will be those who look at that picture of the two flags up above, and they will be overtaken by a convulsive shudder, one starting at the ankles and working its way up. They will think that I am advocating that our liberty-loving nation experience some kind of a hostile takeover by an evangelical Taliban. They think I want us to be ruled by a panel of Reformed weird beards. They think that religious liberty was somehow bequeathed to us by the high-minded secularists of yore, and now come these fighting fundamentalists, threatening to come in and take it all away.
What actually happened was that our liberties were bequeathed to us by practitioners of a robust Christian faith, which had permeated our culture, but which gradually compromised with secularism, such that our culture then became self-consciously secular. And as soon as that happened, our liberties started disappearing. In some places, they disappeared faster than in other places, but enough about Australia. If you believe that what is happening in Australia isn’t their desired outcome for every place, as soon as practically possible, then you don’t understand a single thing that has happened in the last two years. And the only thing that will stop that from happening is stiff resistance. And that is only going to happen if the people understand.
Christian liberty understands that law and liberty come as a unit. You cannot find liberty in a state of anarchy, and you cannot find liberty in a totalitarian state. You cannot find law in a state of anarchy, and you cannot find the rule of law in a totalitarian state. But when law and liberty are conjoined, which only Christ can do, the result is a prosperous, happy, and free people. This can only happen when the people are self-governed, and because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, that can only happen when the bedrock is free grace, sovereign grace. Political liberty is therefore grounded on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Prosperous societies function with form and freedom together, law and liberty together. This is because law does restrict freedom, but in a Christian society, it restricts the freedom of every unit of that society, starting with the government. Do you want to live in liberty? Then you need a worldview that will tie up the government. The citizens can afford to have some liberty restricted by law (not by arbitrary fiat) because the great dragon was also restricted. But in our day, the dragon has gotten loose, and is devouring Australia. And yes, you are quite possibly next, right after Canada.
What do you think the Bill of Rights was? Every last item in the Bill of Rights restricted the liberty of the government. Congress shall make no law . . .
So the Future is Christian
But don’t despair. The future really is Christian, and that means that the future is one of genuine liberty—every man under his own fig tree.
This is a lesson that Christians will eventually learn. It may take a while, but we will learn it. Trying to get us there might be more than a little bit like trying to teach systematic theology to the dufflepuds, and there will be moments of exasperation. But we will get there.
Christ suffered on the cross in order to draw all the nations of men to Himself, and we are in the middle of that process. He rose from the dead that the world must be justified, and we are in the middle of that process also. Christ died and rose, and actually, terms and conditions do not apply.