The entire world of unbelief lies under the sway of the wicked one. Given how the god of unbelief operates — which is through accusation — it should not be surprising what kind of energy makes the system go. That energy lies in the strength of accusation. The devil is an accuser, accusing the saints day and night before the throne (Rev. 12:10). The name Satan means adversary, and he makes his accusations from behind the bench of a pretended righteousness.
Satanic religion is not a matter of severed goat heads, or guttering candles on the floor of some goth teenager’s bedroom. Satanic religion is self-righteous, and aspires to be holier than God (2 Cor. 11:15). When Satan tempted the Lord, one of the ways he did it was by showing him all the kingdoms of this world and their glory (Matt. 4:8). The devil was not in charge of some shantytown kingdom.
The collision between what believers declare and what the world declares is therefore the result of two competing systems of righteousness. Who is righteous and who is not? Who are the justified? Who are the true victims and who are the pretenders? Who are the martyrs and who not? What constitutes true abuse and what does not? Who are the experts? Who will be allowed to speak to these issues authoritatively? And who not?
There are two societies we are dealing with here, the city of man and the city of God, and because we have not yet arrived at the final day, the boundaries between them are still porous. In other words, you can find sectors of the world that have been greatly influenced by Christian definitions and categories, and you can find sectors of the church that have been greatly influenced by unbelieving definitions and categories. Nothing is simple, in other words. Nevertheless, everything is clear enough to be able to distinguish the two systems.
In order to do this, we have to fix it in our minds that categories like “justified” or “victim” are socially-assigned. The reason we are in the midst of a culture war is because we have two different societies, reacting in two completely different ways.
Let us say that some group on a campus near you organizes a slut walk. For some, the category of victim has been authoritatively assigned to the self-described sluts, and you are a hater if you question it. For others, the whole thing is beyond parody. And this is not a difference where you can in any real way split the difference.
This has happened for a number of reasons, but the fundamental reason is because the city of man has come to be, to use Van Til’s expression, epistemologically self-conscious. They have grown into an awareness of their system, and they are intending to govern everyone else in terms of it.
So we live in a time when we have to deal with a toxic combination of factors, all of them revolving around the authority to define. First, postmodern relativism has granted complete lexical authority to our keepers. The dictionary is theirs, or so they say. Sluts are virtuous. Sodomy is normal. Dismembering healthy children is health care. Not only have they claimed the authority to change definitions arbitrarily, their relativism claims the authority to detach any word from its referent. The correspondence view of truth is laughed at, and for a Christian this would mean we are all still in our sins. If “Jesus rose from the dead” does not refer to the historical fact of Jesus rising from the dead, then we of all men are most to be pitied.
Having authority over the dictionary therefore extends to the definition of “victim.” Please note that this is not a collision between an unbelieving worldview that says there are many victims and a believing worldview that says there are no victims. No, the battle is over who the victims are, not whether there are victims.
All societies do two things — they persecute their victims, and they honor their martyrs. So who is in which category?
One of the most striking things about Scripture is that it consistently takes the side of the victim, but it does so in ways that are largely invisible to unbelievers. This is because they are recognizing different sets of victims. And when unbelieving societies persecute, they do so because they feel persecuted.
Lynch mobs feel put upon, and their rage comes from the fact that they do not intend to “take it anymore.” The victim of a lynching is the biblical victim, but the society which tolerates lynching is a society which refuses to grant this biblical definition, and instead assigns victimhood status to themselves.
The line of biblical victims is a long one, beginning with Abel. We see this with Abel, with Isaac, with Joseph, with Job, with David, and so on, culminating of course with the Lord Jesus. But what society does to real victims is something that is entirely invisible to them. The victim is the source of all the trouble. How could we be abusing him? This is why persecutors are such clueless people. They are fixing the problem. They could not be the problem.
A bullying husband tells his wife that she is the one who is crazy, and that no one will believe her. She is losing it. A bullying society works in just the same way. Who would ever want to kill Jesus? And multitudes on Twitter said hahaha and lol. “The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?” (John 7:20).
I mean, that could never happen. Right?