Whenever smart people deny certain key attributes of God, like His sovereignty, this is not because they dislike that attribute. No, actually, they often like that attribute very much. They just object to the fact that the attribute belongs to somebody else. They resent the fact that these divine attributes belong to someone else necessarily. They want their contingent ego to be a necessary ego, but alas, that is the sad part of what sin does to you.
When a man violates the tenth commandment, let’s say, and covets aught which is his neighbor’s, whether that be his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, we should not conclude that he has anything against oxen or donkeys, or man servants or maidservants for that matter, but rather his grievance is located in the pronouns meum and tuum. There’s your real pronoun difficulty.
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north”
Isaiah 14:13 (KJV)
Lucifer had no problem with the sides of the north in themselves. He kind of liked them, and wanted to climb them, and then sit on top of them. It was the fact that he was located too far down in reference to the metric provided by sides of the north that was the problem. And, as his entire venture thereafter proved, the sides of the north can be pretty slippery.
I Mean, Think About It
So the conceited and swollen in heart deny the sovereignty of God, not because they dislike sovereignty, but rather because they covet that attribute for themselves.
This is yet another “not whether but which” situation. It is not whether you believe in predestination, it is which predestination you believe in. At the end of the day, it will either be God or Google. It will be the Father or Facebook. It will be the Almighty or the Algorithm.
Here is Dylan, being lucid on the general topic.
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the LordGotta Serve Somebody
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
But there are difficulties for these yearning ones, and these difficulties are, when you look at them squarely, insurmountable.
The real God is infinite, and every little creaturely aspirant to His throne, is finite. The distance between the infinite God and the finite creature is, and this is understating it, large. The idea that the creature, any creature—from a roly-poly bug up to one of the seraphim—could inflate himself up to divine proportions is a proposition that can be modified by many adjectives—risible, preposterous, ludicrous, outrageous, and monstrous being chief among them. That chasm cannot be jumped, it cannot be bridged.
But, let me hasten to add, it can be redefined, provided you have already lost your mind. The sides of the north are glorious, majestic, and infinitely serene, and at some point it becomes clear that we and our army of roly-poly bugs are not going to be successful when we storm the ramparts of Heaven.
This is where Milton’s Satan sums up the attitude of rebellion—better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven. But even here there are difficulties. The difficulties pursue us. The devil is not the king of Hell, the Lord Jesus is the king of Hell (Rev. 1:18). But still the logic of rebellion will not let it go. Better to crawl down the wormhole of self-pity and despair, and to crown yourself as the king of that morass of self-pity, than to humble oneself in simple trust in order to ask for a push broom so that you might begin to sweep the streets of transparent gold, grinning the whole while. But they don’t bring you a push broom. They bring you a robe of white linen, and invite you to enter into joy.
Our lives here are necessarily preparation for what is to come, and what we are anticipating is what we tend to instantiate here. Those who are destined for joy tend to think that growth and health and productivity here are good things. Those who are in pursuit of the outer darkness—through tenaciously clinging to their own inner darkness—are the ones who want to tear down and destroy. We may take a phrase of Mencken’s and reapply it to their entire outlook. Some men just have a “lust to make the world intolerable.”
It is not true that Heaven and Hell are states of mind. No, the resurrection of the dead is an objective reality that will come to pass in real time. But it is fair to say that within each human soul we find an eternal destiny starter kit. The seeds of Hell are within every unregenerate soul, and the seeds of eternal blessedness are within every regenerate soul. And those seeds don’t wait for the final day to make their identity known.
All of this is just basic gospel, but the people who hate basic gospel are going to come up with ways of slandering it. In fact, they already have.
Christian Nationalism, Hey?
You can call this approach names if you like, and one of the names that has been apparently selected for it is Christian nationalism. I don’t call myself a Christian nationalist, but let’s take the term at face value and break it down, shall we? Perhaps we might even have a bit of fun.
As Francis Schaeffer taught us so well, if there is no God above the state, then the state is god. Allow me to say that again, in a slightly different form, so that the logic of it might settle upon your head and shoulders. If the state is the highest authority in the lives of those governed, meaning that there is no authority above the state, beyond the reach of that state, then the state is the god of that system.
So that is Option #1. The state is god. I hope that we call all agree that this would be muy no bueno. Nobody wants a god that has Nancy Pelosi as a power player in it.
Now come Options #2 and #3.
If there is a God above the state, then that God will either be the true God or a false god. Still with me? I know that this kind of binary thinking is kind of outré and bizarre these days, but I don’t see any way around it. If there is a God above the state, then He either should be there or he shouldn’t be. If He is the true and living God, then He should be, and we should recognize that, or he shouldn’t be, and we should all recognize that.
So if it be the true God, then let us call that Option #2. We could also call it Christian nationalism, but only if you like. If you insist.
And if it be a false god, like Krishna, or Allah, or Beyoncé, then that would be Option #3.
Now with Options #2 and #3, the God of the system is named. Or, if you went the other route, the god of the system is named. We know that a Muslim nation is a Muslim nation. We know that a Hindu state is a Hindu state, and so on. The god is named.
So then, here are the three options. The state is god, the true God is God, or a false god is god. Now if there is one thing that evangelical leaders don’t like to be, it is pinned down. They govern their teaching, not by the Scriptures being read aloud in a well-lit room, but rather by what they are likely to be called if they say “anything like that.” They can’t go for Option #3 because that would upset the donor base, at least the current donor base. But they can’t go for Option #2 because somebody will be sure to call them a theonomist, or a Christian nationalist, or a white supremacist, or perhaps even one of the unvaccinated. So if they want to get out of this particular jam, in order to run away from Christian nationalism, they need an option that allows for a liberal use of some squid ink. That used to be Option #1, and that used to work a lot better before the state started acting like they were in fact Odin.
The squid ink used to work better. There was a time when people believed that secularism was a live option. “Don’t you see that the state is neutral when it comes to all these questions.” This is harder to maintain now that the revolution is on, and you are stringing up evangelical florists and bakers on lamp posts. So those glory days of nice-guy secuarism are long gone, and besides, even back then it was not an example of secularism working. Rather, it was an example of a society that had an informal establishment of Christianity, and that worked, for a time. But once war was declared on every last vestige of public Christianity, our temporizing evangelical leadership has had nowhere to turn.
The false gods are fierce and off-putting, secularism is a farce, and the great media smoke machine is gearing up to make Christian nationalism into quite a fearsome boogeyman. If you have ever had the trendy “Jesus follower” tag in your online bio, and you are white, I am here to bring you the sad tidings that you are running out of options. As always, it is Christ or chaos, and there really are only two destinations—Heaven, where your whiteness won’t matter to anybody, and the outer darkness, where no one will be able to see it.
When it comes to sorting out what we ought to make of the relationship of the modern state to the living God, modern evangelicalism has presented us with a three-ring goat rodeo. If there is anybody you can count on to refuse to look straight at the question as posed, it would be one of our elite evangelical leaders.
The Sharp End of the Spear
Again, Christ or chaos. Why this should be so disorienting to professing Christians is hard to fathom. You can see the chaos all around you, and I, as a minister of the gospel, am telling you that there is only one way out of that chaos. Only one way. Just one path. Only one Savior. Christ is the only alternative to chaos.
So here comes the call to action. Repent of your secularism. Banish every vestige of secularism from your heart, soul, and mind. Go even further, and then banish it from your thought patterns, your rhetoric, and your talking points. Get it out of your brochures and by-laws.
Jesus is Lord, and that is not a reference to Him being the Lord of some distant and irrelevant spiritual realm, located deep within some physicist’s seventeenth dimension somewhere. It means that He is the Lord of these United States. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry. Kiss the Son, and don’t do it at night, the way Judas did it. Do it openly. Jesus is Lord, and we confess that He is Lord in the public square, which is our firm testimony that He is Lord of the public square.
Secularism was the idea that we could build a just and humane society without any reference to God. It was the idea that we could generate meaning out of the sum total of individualistic pursuits and lusts. It was the idea that we could, as a society, stipulate a functional void above us—above us, only sky—without that lunatic folly causing a void to open up beneath our feet.
Grasp this one thing. If you insist on a void above us, then you will have the void below. If you will have it your own way, as Korah wanted, then the ground will open up for you, as it did for Korah and all who stood with him. It is Christ or chaos. Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. It is either Christ, the integration point of all things in Heaven and earth, or it is the chaos of self, that leprous thing which will disintegrate all that you have and are.