Reading and writing for my upcoming book on God’s law and cherem, I passed through a section of one of the finest commentaries available: James B. Jordan, Judges: God’s War Against Humanism (1985). At the end of his comments on God’s judgment of Benjamin, carried out by their own Israelite brethren, Jordan concludes with this striking passage:
Modern American conservatives and Christians often assume that because they are right on one point or another, and because they oppose the modern sons of Belial (abortionists, homosexuals, communists, etc.), that is enough. Such a mentality is a trap. It is not enough simply to oppose evil. God will not restore America or the Western world until the Church not only holds to what is right, but holds it the right way. God will not honor a merely political opposition to evil. Deliverance from evil will only come when men return to the Church and make her ministry and worship their first love (Jud. 20:26). Such is the only way to defeat secular humanism (p. 314).
This resonates with me for obvious reasons: if anything describes my M.O. this is it. It is also American Vision’s mission statement. This is the same line I took in my own commentary on 1 Samuel, and why we consciously resurrected the same series title as Jordan’s, Trinity Commentary Series. There is a conscious connection to the type of thinking demonstrated here . . . and we need much more of it.
Biblical Worldview and reconstruction of society must be biblically proactive, not reactive.
God’s law and faithfulness cuts across family and political lines. Our allegiances must do so, too. Jesus taught this. It should be obvious. But in conservative and Christian circles, it is often the last thing in line. We give precedence to our friends, our money, our family ties, our bloodline, our political tribe . . . all kinds of personal loyalties. Then we waffle around trying to find some semblance to biblical or religious justification for our decisions. God comes second, or last. This is not worship. But it is usually more popular.
In doing all this, we end up creating boogeymen to justify our compromises. We must vaunt and magnify the evils of the other side. For Israel in Benjamin’s case, this was not so difficult: Benjamin had essentially become Sodom and even murderous. Think sodomy and abortion, and you’re there. You’re also right here with modern conservatives and Christians versus liberals, as Jordan said in 1985. But if all we ever do is make a career of pointing out the obvious sins of the extreme on the other side, using that as reason never to address our own allegedly smaller ones, we have done nothing for the kingdom. We can pat ourselves on the backs all day long and join in chorus with all our buddies, but we are ignoring the biggest thing: “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17).
We’ll overlook a thousand sins of our own by magnifying the “crisis” created by the sins of others. “Who has time to arrange the furniture when the house is on fire? The HOUSE IS ON FIRE!!!” (In this, btw, it is always assumed that the person’s chosen crisis is the actual root and cause of the fire. This again is ignoring how Christ and God’s law would direct us first to think, which is often counterintuitive.)
This thinking is the origin of the “lesser of two evils” doctrine. It is the wicked step-sister of radical two-kingdoms doctrine. It may be in some extreme circumstances necessary, but is too often a safe space created to coddle our own fears and failures, while calling ourselves faithful and blaming someone else. You will find yourself in bed with evolutionists and non-Christians on the right just as quickly as on the left when you do this.
This is where the Israelites are to be more commended than us, in this instance. They failed, and failed again, but eventually they looked to their own sin and took responsibility for it. The cost of doing this was to bring a covenant lawsuit against their own kin and political fellows. But these kin and fellow citizens had abandoned God’s law, and the faith must come first. In Israel’s case with Benjamin, this meant a literal war and literal executions. We are not called to anything nearly so radical, and yet we balk. Status, friendship, façade, and party allegiance all come first. These are all, of course, powerful, but also all only emotional impediments to faithfulness.
The mission of American Vision has been, for 40 years now, to restore America to its biblical foundations. It is not to content ourselves with opposing the select evils of others. It is not to focus upon others at all, but upon Christ, and the sanctification of God’s people and their personal and social lives through him and his word.
Judgment must begin at the house of God. Yes, it is true, Peter goes on to say that the judgment for those outside will be even more certain and perhaps worse. But that do you think that means? That it’s ok to compromise with them? No, it means one thing and one thing only:
You have a choice between judgment and even worse judgment. It is a choice between a sanctifying judgment and a judgment unto destruction.
The Christian life is one of trials by fire. We are either sanctified or destroyed. Laughing at and condemning those destroyed is not the path to sanctification. We must enter the fire ourselves in faith.
James Jordan was saying it this way in 1985. American Vision has been saying it for 40 years now. We will not stop saying it, either.