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As Christian Cold War Heats Up, The Faithful Are Equipping For Battle
The ^ | October 4, 2021 | Joy Pullman

Posted on 10/04/2021 10:22:30 AM PDT by Kaslin

The Christian cold war will mean an increase in church splits, takeovers, and other power struggles as people choose sides on existential questions, including theology.

Along with the rest of the country, American Christianity is in the middle of a cold war. As this war heats up, it will mean church splits, takeovers, fights over denominational resources, and other power struggles as the Donald Trump era has increasingly brought clarity and pushed people to choose sides on existential questions.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the United States’ largest Protestant denomination, is one key example of this dynamic affecting American Christianity as a whole. On Oct. 1 in The American Conservative, Jackson Waters and Emma Posey reported on new developments in that denomination’s growing identity crisis. They contrast the Russell Moore, Beth Moore, and David French wing with the Voddie Baucham, Douglas Wilson, and I’d add Thomas Ascol wing.

“The direction Moore, French, and Moore are walking is not simply traditional evangelicalism, but a form of cultural accommodation dressed as convictional religion,” Waters and Posey write, after describing how the three have theologically shifted in recent years and months. “The result is a religious respectability that promotes national unity, liberalism, and wokeism under the rhetorical guise of love for neighbor. While Moore and his guest [Beth Moore] try to straddle the fence, there is little doubt that their biggest support is now coming from those significantly to their left politically.”

The Polarization Isn’t Superficial or Random

Many religious leaders have mistaken American polarization as merely political, thus scapegoating Trump for pulling the rug off many cockroach nests that predate his presidency. Yet this polarization in fact sprouts from irreconcilable theological and philosophical differences, which accounts for its fierceness and existential nature.

Americans are debating whether truth and human nature exist, and whether such things can be objectively defined for all or must be subjectively defined by power or “lived experience.” They are debating whether all men truly are created equal, or whether some are more equal than others. Christianity has a lot to say about these philosophical questions that also affect politics.

There are other political intersections and parallels. They include how some church leaders often use their authority against their own people instead of on their behalf, are utterly detached from ordinary people’s concerns, and appear to have little understanding of the nature of the cultural battles they try to avoid. These mass failures are prompting new leaders to take up the spiritual warfare many legacy leaders have abandoned.

Christ to the Sons of Peter: Feed My Sheep

While examples of leadership failures in the church are legion, one seems front and center today. In the face of mass government persecution of religious exercise over the past year and a half, Christian leaders overwhelmingly cowered and canceled services.

Shutdowns violate the theology of all Christians, both non-sacramentarians to sacramentarians. Those who don’t believe Christ’s statement, “This is my Body,” do heavily lean on his command called the Great Commission. In it, Christ tells the apostles to “Go and make disciples of all nations,” then tells them exactly how: “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” You can’t baptize or make disciples via Zoom.

In addition, corporate gathering for worship is expressly commanded in the Bible. Christians also don’t live in fear of suffering or death, for “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

For Christians who do believe in Christ’s real presence in Holy Communion, forbidding in-person worship is an even greater blasphemy. It means denying the Christ-mandated distribution of his physical Body and Blood to heal and preserve the souls of the redeemed for all eternity, the very reason for which Christ came to earth, was crucified, and resurrected.

All this means the very people charged with feeding Christ’s sheep his most precious Blood and Word, as Jesus demanded of Peter before commissioning him as an apostle, instead spiritually starved Christ’s children. They left the sheep without the shepherds commissioned by Christ Himself to care for them even to the point of death. These are the acts of traitors.

‘My People Are Destroyed for Lack of Knowledge’

An abandoned and starving flock is easier prey for false shepherds and false teachings. It’s therefore no surprise that the same churches and believers that have forsaken Christ’s most important commands are also riven with the trendy heresies of cultural Marxism. Widely read evangelical publications, high-visibility preachers, Christian universities’ professors, and church bureaucrats often either refuse to rebuke or openly endorse the identity politics racism, erasure of sexual differences, and indulgence of sexual sin in vogue in the West.

As Baucham notes in his book “Fault Lines,” religious leaders who push back on identity-politics corrosion of Christian teachings are typically criticized by their own colleagues, while those on the hard left are engaged with and treated as good-faith interlocutors. Presbyterian seminary professor Ben Dunson put it bluntly in an interview: “A lot of people aren’t willing to be called a white supremacist, so they stay silent.”

This one-sided pressure causes many church leaders to avoid discussing culture war topics even when those topics have major theological implications, says Adam Koontz, co-host of the “A Brief History of Power with Two White Guys” podcast who directs pastoral field education as a professor for Concordia Theological Seminary.

“It’s not that our people don’t know about these [social] issues, but they often don’t hear about it in the pews,” Koontz said in a phone interview. “We are very good at telling about, say, the courage of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but you have to take that and apply it to modern-day America and explain why being white is not a problem.”

These Christians Are Reporting For Duty

There is a “big disconnect between the evangelical elite and the people in the pews,” said Reformed writer Aaron Renn of The Masculinist in an interview. Waters and Posey also point out evangelicals’ institutions are largely controlled by those who oppose what the laypeople believe: “Over the last year, the division between evangelicals and their leadership has only grown, raising the question of who is driving the movement.”

This is what prompted Renn and Dunson to create the publication American Reformer, to equip Christians to respond to increasing cultural hostility. The publication aims to be robustly intellectual while still approachable, aimed at both pastors and lay leaders, “To be the voice for people who have lost their institutional voices,” Renn said.

“[S]o many Protestant leaders are MIA on the big issues of the day,” Renn told me in an email. For example, he noted, the people introducing Americans to the deeply Calvinist political thought of Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban are the political commentators Rod Dreher and Tucker Carlson.

The people most visibly opposing “the woke revolution,” he noted, are not Christian leaders but atheist James Lindsay and journalist Chris Rufo, whose religious beliefs are not part of his advocacy. Thirdly, Renn pointed out, very few Christian institutions consciously aim to equip Christians to live in a society that is hostile to their beliefs. Instead, institutional leaders largely prefer to pretend that America is still a “Christian nation” instead of facing the reality that Christianity is now an open target for many U.S. government officials and agencies.

American Reformer aims to address these key issues, and more. Dunson and Renn also hope to raise and distribute funds to assist efforts to keep religious institutions orthodox, as well as sponsor non-woke theological scholarship.

“The goal would be to have people who understand their own Protestant history better,” Dunson said. “Classic Protestant thinking is well aware of the fact that in a fallen world we seek to do the good we can where we are, and that means starting with our families and our communities, our states, our nation, as much as we’re able.”

The difference between mainstream evangelicalism and classical Protestantism on the state could not be summed better than in this tweet. For classic Protestants state power (dangerous, no doubt) is to be directed toward virtuous ends, not to be abandoned as inherently defiling.

— Ben C. Dunson (@BenDunson1) September 22, 2021

“We want to encourage those who are serious and aspiring to lead to stand up. People are hungry for leadership,” Dunson said.

From the Moral Majority to the Woke Church

Koontz said deepening animosity towards American Christians is prompting more pastors to dive into such discussions with parishioners. If pastors don’t teach their people what scripture says about major cultural issues, he said, this abandonment of their duties can badly damage a congregation.

Another block to pastors addressing such problems can be evangelical theology itself, Koontz noted. The woke “children of the Moral Majority are now doing what their parents did, but in the new politically trendy way,” he observed. He underscored the belief, common to much of evangelicalism and to Roman Catholicism, that humans participate in their own salvation — i.e., “make a decision for Christ” — rather than Christ doing it all, one of the “solas” of the Protestant Reformation.

This fuels the belief that Christianity is not about being transformed solely by Christ through his clearly defined gifts of Word and Sacrament for a life of service to others, but about validating one’s faith through human works. That, in turn, stimulates a religious impetus for pursuing an earthly utopia through politics, a dangerous unity of faith and state that has historically at best fueled failed nation-building abroad and a rogue administrative state at home, and at worst totalitarianism and mass murder.

Just as substituting politics for faith also ultimately decimated mainline denominations, Koontz noted, so those who follow its woke version today will eventually abandon Christianity. The only way out of this is the same way out of every other spiritual dead end: repentance.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: aaronrenn; americanreformer; bendunson; bethmoore; christianity; covid19; culturalmarxism; davidfrench; evangelicalism; evangelicals; firstamendment; identitypolitics; iylm; pastors; persecution; protestants; race; racism; religion; religious; religiousexercise; russellmoore; sbc; shutdowns; southernbaptists; theology; woke; wokechurches; worship

1 posted on 10/04/2021 10:22:30 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

More and more denominations are becoming Nine Suggestions churches rather than Ten Commandments ones.

2 posted on 10/04/2021 10:28:48 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Covid Is All About Mail In Balloting)
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To: Gay State Conservative

Most 501c3 churches are woke.

3 posted on 10/04/2021 10:29:40 AM PDT by who knows what evil? (Yehovah saved more animals than people on the
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To: Kaslin

A better and more worthwhile read than I originally thought.

4 posted on 10/04/2021 10:31:16 AM PDT by marktwain (President Trump and his supporters are the Resistance. His opponents are the Reactionaries. )
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To: Kaslin; lightman

Ping to decidedly Lutheran article.
Three Solas!

5 posted on 10/04/2021 10:51:10 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Come join us! We are the UnVaxxenJuden! Where is YOUR star?)
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To: marktwain

Agreed. It’s good to see the problems being recognized and actively, intentionally addressed.

6 posted on 10/04/2021 10:53:43 AM PDT by TheDon (Resist the usurpers)
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To: Kaslin

“He underscored the belief, common to much of evangelicalism and to Roman Catholicism, that humans participate in their own salvation — i.e., “make a decision for Christ”....”

Hate to break it to this guy, but you don’t have to believe in Calvin to believe in Jesus! There is very little SCRIPTURAL support for Calvinism, and hundreds of verses holding us responsible for believing.

BTW - Augustine was a Calvinist a thousand years before perhaps Calvinism ought to be called Augustinianism.

7 posted on 10/04/2021 11:02:13 AM PDT by Mr Rogers
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To: Kaslin


8 posted on 10/04/2021 11:03:14 AM PDT by Albion Wilde (And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. --Matthew 24:12)
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To: Kaslin

Christianity is persecuted in most countries. Yet, the American church acts as if it can’t happen here. I once taught a Sunday school class on persecution of Christians. The audience was stunned by the number of scriptures about persecution being a normal, and blessed part of the Christian life.

1 Peter 4:13
“but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”

9 posted on 10/04/2021 11:08:08 AM PDT by aimhigh (THIS is His commandment . . . . 1 John 3:23)
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To: Kaslin


10 posted on 10/04/2021 11:09:21 AM PDT by Bratch
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To: Kaslin

I’m a refugee from Mclean Bible Church which has gone woke.

11 posted on 10/04/2021 11:14:05 AM PDT by ckilmer
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To: Mr Rogers

“He underscored the belief, common to much of evangelicalism and to Roman Catholicism, that humans participate in their own salvation — i.e., “make a decision for Christ”....”
This looks like the Arminian position. Which is to be saved by faith through grace. This means you confess your faith in Jesus and God extends his grace—that is his unmerited favor— to you. The point here is that you provide the initiative that makes the transaction happen.

The Calvinist position is just the reverse— that you are saved by grace through faith. This means that even your confession of faith in Jesus is a work of God.

People can hold to either position and hold within orthodox christianity—just as they can hold to any one of a half dozen end times theologies and remain within Christian orthodoxy.

12 posted on 10/04/2021 11:22:11 AM PDT by ckilmer
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To: Mr Rogers

He was? Calvinism is nothing but a sect. Not a church

13 posted on 10/04/2021 11:29:03 AM PDT by Kaslin (Joe Biden will never be my President, and neither will Kamala Harris)
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To: ckilmer


14 posted on 10/04/2021 11:29:21 AM PDT by RightField
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To: Kaslin

15 posted on 10/04/2021 11:55:00 AM PDT by gitmo (If your theology doesn't become your biography, what good is it?)
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To: aimhigh

Yes its natural but we think of Christianity from a Western perspective and many if not most Christians have no idea was Christianity is like in China, North Korea, Cuba, Africa and Muslim nations. They are facing persecution not seen since Roman times.

16 posted on 10/04/2021 1:21:23 PM PDT by Sam Gamgee
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To: ckilmer

No, the Arminian position is NOT that we take the initiative. God reaches out to us and we accept or reject His offer. The initiative is all with God.

Calvin goes far further. For example:

“The fourth Biblical truth in the five points of Calvinism teaches that God’s grace to save a person cannot be resisted. Grace is God’s free and unmerited power to save a person from his sins which would otherwise lead us to hell. Grace brings him to heaven who naturally would end in eternal hell.

That grace is irresistible. That means that if God gives grace to you, there is nothing in the world that you can do to resist it and thwart God’s intention to take you to heaven. The certainty of salvation for God’s elect is seen in John 6:37 where Jesus says: “All that the Father hath given me shall come to me...” There is no doubt that they will be saved. Verse 44 says that those who come to God come because God draws them. Not our will, but God’s will is first and powerful.”

In Calvinism, we are born again and THEN believe. However, the Bible teaches “He came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him. 12 Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become God’s children.” (John 1) and “But these have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life.” (John 20).

Both Calvinists and Arminians can be Christians. And both can be false Christians. I just find it bewildering that anyone who takes scripture seriously can be a Calvinist. However - we are saved by GRACE, not by flawless theology! LOTS of learned theologians will go to hell, and many of us with faulty theology will be saved. By God.

And I find it VERY odd that being a “free will” type is assumed in the article to be a reason some are falling away, when the hard core Reformed churches have almost entirely abandoned the faith.

Calvin’s theology assumes “election” is individual. I believe it is corporate, just as Israel’s being chosen was.

17 posted on 10/04/2021 1:37:16 PM PDT by Mr Rogers
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To: Gay State Conservative

Here we go again!!

As I was walking across a bridge one day; I saw a man standing outside the railing, about to jump off.
So I ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!"
"Why shouldn't I?" he said.
I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!"
He said, "Like what?"
I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?"
He said, "Religious."
I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?"
He said, "Christian."
I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
He said, "Baptist!"
I said,"Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of GOD or Baptist Church of the Lord?"
He said, "Baptist Church of GOD!"
I said, "Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of GOD, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of GOD?"
He said,"Reformed Baptist Church of GOD!"
I said, "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of GOD, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of GOD, reformation of 1915?"
He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of GOD, reformation of 1915!"
I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off.
-- Emo Phillips

18 posted on 10/05/2021 5:00:30 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Elsie
That is funny! Emo Phillips,as strange as he was,was actually very,very funny!
19 posted on 10/05/2021 5:05:13 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Covid Is All About Mail In Balloting)
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