Mel Gibson’s 1997 film Conspiracy Theory has him cast as a cab driver, Jerry Fletcher, who sees conspiracies in everything. He spends a great deal of time laying out complex conspiratorial scenarios, talks about them in the cab and sends his newsletter to 5 other people. The film went on to demonstrate Joseph Heller’s (Catch-22) maxim, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you” when it turned out that he was being conspired against. Conspiracies are fun. Like riding roller coasters, they allow us to be a little afraid with no real danger. On the other hand, sometimes they turn out to be true. The outcome of this election is a case in point. I have received a number of emails asking if Barack Obama is the anti-Christ or the false prophet of the book of Revelation. Along with the question are links to video such as Militant Obama youth march to ‘Alpha, Omega’ chant or Obama’s July 2 speech in Colorado Springs, CO where he talked about starting a “civilian national security force.” This concern is not just coming from Evangelical and Fundamental Christians but Georgia Congressman Paul Broun suggested that Obama’s proposal is:
“exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did.”
At the same time we hear UK’s Brown: Now is the time to build global society and Gorbachev calls on Obama to carry out ‘perestroika’ in the U.S..
Obama has been clear that he is a globalist during his election campaign so moves in that direction would not be surprising. We know that Obama supports murdering geographically challenged humans (inside the womb vs. outside the womb) for any reason but does he support infanticide as seems to be the case in his opposition to Born Alive Legislation?
Are the claims about his positions true and are concerns well founded? Are the conspiracy theories false or will Heller’s maxim, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you,” prove to be true in this case? The answer is we don’t know yet. Only time will tell. A bigger question is how does this impact the church?
As we have pointed out in previous blogs, the government will not save us. The government cannot solve material problems like poverty, hunger and AIDS or spiritual problems like greed, avarice and hatred. Salvation comes only through calling on the name of Jesus Christ and believing in His death, burial and physical resurrection (Ro. 10:9-13; 1 Cor. 15:1-5). Could the United States see the rise of a dictator, whether it is Obama or someone else? Of course it could. There has been a lot said about Obama’s Marxist and socialist views and affiliations and it seems a fair amount of the population is ready to start a socialist experiment. The Republican Party has put together and implemented a huge step in recreating the U.S. as a socialist state as it purchases ownership in banks and other institutions. Will the bail out (now over 2 trillion dollars) prevent an economic collapse? That is uncertain and if it does how will the huge debt be paid off? If the bailout doesn’t solve the problem and the U.S. economy collapses its citizenry will embrace anyone who promises to make sure they are fed and clothed. Perhaps, for the church at least, that is the best thing that could happen. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to live in a dictatorship or socialist state. I rather enjoy my freedom and am not prone to wanting to suffer overly much beyond eating lunch late on occasion. But the culture continues on its drift back to first century paganism and the church seems ill-equipped to respond.
The emerging church appears to revel in cheering them on as they slide deeper and deeper into paganism. Seeker and Purpose Driven churches look for newer and more effective marketing techniques to better package and promote the Jesus product they represent. Churches on the other end of the spectrum are more than glad to proclaim the gospel provided they don’t have to get too close to an actual sinner. The goal is to bring the sinner to conform to and embrace 1950s American culture as the Christian ideal. If the conspiracies or something close them are true, the church will find itself in the same circumstance as the first century Christians.
The church was born into a culture that was ruled by a dictator who declared himself to be God. It was a culture that embraced homosexuality, pedophilia, sexual orgies, abortion, infanticide, child abandonment, bulimia and any other activity which glorified and or brought pleasure to self. All religions were welcomed and one could pick and choose from the spiritual buffet without fear of condemnation. The exception to that was if you claimed that only one view of God is true and all others are false. Claims such as:
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.(Acts 4:12)
were viewed as threats against the state and dealt with harshly. Because the followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9 &23; 22:4; 24:14 & 22) rejected all other gods as false gods they were regarded as atheists and persecuted accordingly. Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of problems in the first century church. It wasn’t pristine, unadulterated faith. Most of the New Testament was written to correct false teaching and bad behavior. Yet, they carried the essential message in such a way that it transformed society. Christians didn’t look for government to solve poverty; they fed the poor within the church and the poor outside the church as they had available resources. They didn’t spend a great deal of time, energy and finances trying to create legislation to stop abortion, they loved, witnessed to, prayed for and helped women who were pregnant. They spent their time looking for abandoned children and brought them home to raise as their own. They lived in sexual purity and did so without abandoning culture. Although they lived in the world they didn’t imitate the world. They expected sinners to behave like sinners and were not surprised when they did.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t be involved with influencing the government, government policy and legislation. It happens that we currently live in a country that has a system of government which encourages such interaction. Rather I am saying that regardless of what happens with our government or where society goes I would suggest a few things which transcend all of that. They aren’t new but are as old as the church itself:
1) Each believer recognizing they are a missionary or part of the missionary support team. Ask God to help us see lost people as really lost. Many Christians may intellectually affirm that their lost neighbor is going to be separated from God eternally but at a heart level they don’t really believe it. Once lost people are seen as really lost there is no amount of time or resources that won’t invest in trying to reach them.
2) Each church is regarded as a mission base. Churches need to see themselves as training and healing centers where believers gather to learn more about their life in and relationship to Jesus Christ. It is a place to humbly worship their savior. It is where they are trained and equipped to defend the faith in the mission field when they leave and work. It will be a place where the missionaries can be encouraged, prayed for and pray with their support team other missionaries. Unbelievers may happen in but it is not primarily for unbelievers it is a family gathering place.
3) Heavenly minded and as a result earthly good. Since they have their eye on their Savior and are prepared to be with Him at any moment they are less afraid of the present state of affairs. The priority is not their personal comfort or possessions but how can they best serve others. Do they wear Jesus well in the midst of a perverse and evil world? Paul’s description of his ministry is enlightening:
in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)
I don’t know if the conspiracy theorists are right but the next few years will opportunities to publically articulate the differences between the conflicting worldviews. Will they do it?