When it comes to life in our modern congregations, we think we have to guard against mindless conformity when what really threatens our spiritual health is our radical individualism. The Scriptures tell us what we should be laboring for, striving for, and praying for. We are not told to work at maintaining independence of thought. We are not told to build some ecclesiastical variant of academic freedom. We are commanded to strive for likemindedness, to be of one mind.
‘Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits’ (Rom. 12:16).
‘That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 15:6).
‘Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you’ (2 Cor. 13:11).
‘Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel’ (Phil. 1:27).
‘Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind’ (Phil. 2:2).
‘Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous’ (1 Pet. 3:8).
‘Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus’ (Rom. 15:5).
‘For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state’ (Phil. 2:20).
Allow me the privilege of translating all of this into modern American English for you. Drink the Kool-Aid. Join the cult. Surrender your independence. Swallow the party line. Go baaa like a sheep. Strive for the nirvana of acquiescence.
One of the laws of leadership in this fallen world is that people will put up with far more from ungodly leaders than they will from godly leaders.
False teachers do not knock on your door with a brief case full of literature, and say, ‘Hello, I am here from the devil, and I have come to lead you into eternal torments.’ That kind of stuff never makes it into the brochures.
What Paul says about koinonia reformation is healthy — wholesome. But some don’t consent to it (v. 3). The false teacher’s empty head does not keep him from being full of himself (v. 4). His heart and tongue are tangled — he has questions and verbal clashes. These produce envy, quarrels, verbal hostility, and jumping to conclusions about the motives of others. These men have bent minds and hearts and so they produce bent disputes. They think that piety is supposed to be a means of personal advancement, particularly theirs (v. 5). Get away from such people. This is a wonderful picture of the rabid revolutionary of the early nineteenth century, and it is a vivid picture of some of the people we had to deal with on our slavery controversy.
“But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”
Are we in the middle of a new Reformation?
I believe that we are.
Is this megalomania on our part? — ‘Who do you guys think you are?’
No, we don’t think we’re anybody special; no Reformer ever has been actually.
“At the same time, precisely because the Church is the household of the faithful, the enemy outside hates it. One of the ways he expresses that hatred is by various attempts at subversion, corrupting the Church from within. It is simply naive to maintain that all assaults on the faith come from persecuting tyrants. Most of the threats to biblical integrity come from men who went to seminary. The beast in Scripture is a civil ruler, persecuting from outside. There have been many such beasts in the history of the Church, from Nero to Stalin. But the antichrist in Scripture is a spirit of corruption from within the body. Who is the antichrist but the one who denies that Jesus came in the flesh? (1 Jn. 4:3). A beast is a persecutor; an antichrist is a false teacher. In the scriptural categories, Hitler was a beast, but to find our modern antichrists we have to look for liberal Methodist bishops and the lesbians who love them. Now the Bible requires that the Word be brought against both kinds of threats, which is just what the apostle John did. He brought the Word against the beast in Revelation and against the antichrist in 1 John. And when that Word comes, it does not do so as an invitation to dialogue” (A Serrated Edge, pp. 99–100).
Posted by Douglas Wilson — 12/28/2005 12:45:29 PM
When the history of our era finally written, it is hard to say which group will deserve the greater condemnation — the amoral totalitarians who run the Soviet Union, or the glassy-eyed moral idiots in the West who were incapable of seeing what was happening.
“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
More than one rogue pastor has established a mini-papal state, and run it like Leo X on a toot.
The intention, laid out for us in Scripture, is for the institutional Church to receive the apostles, their emissaries, and their letters. When we get their letters, we in the Church are supposed to open them up and do what they say. Unfortunately, Diotrephes has an online discipleship training program, and his imitators are everywhere. Moreover, his imitators and heirs are, just like he was, entrenched in the Church.