The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

The Religious Nature of this Present Revolution

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This present revolution, and it is a revolution, has a long history going back centuries in other parts of the world but has been fomenting in the United States for some decades. There have always been socialistic and communistic movements in the United States. For the most part they have been made up of fringe factions.

Revolutions are religious in nature. There is always an appeal to some new version of the existing god or the crowning of a new god. It Communism, it's the State. The French revolution established Reason to be the new god.

For example, the Communist Party was established in 1919 after a split in the Socialist Party of America following the Russian Revolution and it exists today. There’s also a growing socialist movement and many of our nation’s programs and policies are based on communistic and socialistic systems.

Here are a few of them taken from Cleon Skousen’s book The Naked Communist that was first published in 1958. You can read all 45 of them here:

Skousen also said that the FBI would be discredited and eventually dismantled. It's worse than he predicted. The FBI has become the tool of big government policies.

Most of these Communist attributes are associated with Antonio's Gramsci's cultural Marxism that includes economic matters but is more concerned with religion, culture, education, the arts, media, and everything else. Economics was always secondary to Gramsci. Gary North explains that Gramsci believed that “the only way to achieve a proletarian revolution would be to break the faith of the masses of Western voters in Christianity and the moral system derived from Christianity.”

The thing of it is many Christians have adopted socialist policies that are a slippery slope to many Communist ideals. Christians are often made to feel guilty for things they have not done and guilty for things they have done that are biblical. This is especially true in the discipline of economics: hard work, saving, staying out of debt, being on time for work, following through on contracts, forward thinking, responsible charity, etc.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s Ron Sider’s book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger became the talk of the evangelical world. It was obvious that Sider knew little about economics and how markets work and how a free market economy lifts people out of poverty. The same was true of most evangelical leaders.

Dr. Gary North was invited to debate Sider at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in April of 1981. Since debates rarely accomplish much, Dr. North had David Chilton (1951-1997) write a book-length response to Sider’s views that was available at the debate. The title is Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt-Manipulators. Here are Dr. North's comments on how and why the book got written:

I hired [Chilton] in late 1980 to write the book, which was a response to Sider's bestseller, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: A Biblical Study (1977), co-published by the Protestant neo-evangelical InterVarsity Press and the Roman Catholic Paulist Press. Chilton's book became the bestselling book in the history of the Institute for Christian Economics (1976-2001).

Chilton had to write that book in three months. I was scheduled to debate Sider at Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Massachusetts in the spring. That was one of those odd occurrences in my life. A student had telephoned me to invite me to come to speak. I replied, "Only if it's to debate Ron Sider." He immediately replied, "We want you to debate Ron Sider."

I needed the book to sell for $1 at the debate. Boxes of them arrived at the inviting student's apartment on the day before the debate. At the debate, I had a copy on the desk in front of us. Sider was sitting next to me. I could see that the book caught his eye. It had a cover of a man who was hanging himself: right hand holding the rope, which was suspending him in mid-air; left hand with a Bible. He asked: "How long has this been in print?" I replied: "One day."

The original 1981 cover of Productive Christians by David Chilton

If you want a course in biblical and free-market economics, I suggest you read a copy of Chilton’s incomparable book. The following is from Chilton’s Introduction:

_________________________

Revolution is a religious faith. All men, created in the image of God, are fundamentally religious: all cultural activity is essentially an outgrowth of man's religious position; for our life and thought are exercised either in obedience to, or rebellion against, God. All men, says St. Paul, are conscious of their rebellion, self-conscious to a degree which leaves them inexcusable (Romans 1:18–26); but the avowed revolutionary is self-conscious to a greater degree hence often more obviously "religious"- than many of his fellow men.

Throughout history revolutionaries have demonstrated an almost limitless facility for appropriating as their own the religious terminology of the surrounding culture. Their works abound with references to infallibility, regeneration, and faith. Revolutionaries in France were offered a new version of Holy Communion, in which the priest would proclaim, "This is the body OF THE BREAD which the rich owe to the poor!” [1] Some spoke of "the holy Communist Church" [2] and of the "egalitarian church, outside of which there can be no salvation.” [3] In Germany, revolutionaries published family devotional literature, responsive readings, and even a "Communist Lord's Prayer":

So be it! In thy holy name
We'll overturn the old rubbish;
No masters and no servants! Amen!
Money and property shall be abolished! [4]

This tendency to fuse Christian language with revolutionary concepts manifests itself again and again. The radical James Nayler rode into Bristol in 1656, seated on a donkey, with his disciples strewing palm branches before him. The terrorist John Brown claimed to be God's angel of death. Adolf Hitler represented himself as a defender of Christianity. One explanation for all this is the revolutionary's desire to be as God, to center all devotion in his own messianic program; but another reason may be just as important insofar as the cultural acceptance of the Revolution is concerned. James H. Billington writes: "Indeed, communism probably would not have attracted such instant attention without this initial admixture of Christian ideas." [5]

In the past, the evangelical wing of Christianity in the United States has been generally conservative in its political and economic views. There may have been more of instinct than of principle in some of this, but the usual assumption was that no one who claimed to believe in the authority of Scripture could seriously hold to socialistic or revolutionary ideas. But there are new voices in evangelicalism today, claiming that a truly biblical Christianity demands centralized economic planning and the "liberation" of the downtrodden masses throughout the world. Faithfulness to Scripture is being equated with a redistribution of wealth. Notions of social reform once thought to be the province of aberrant liberals may now be heard down the street in the Baptist church.

Yet what they are preaching is the Revolution. It is not presented so baldly, of course; most Christians would not be so easily seduced if it were called by its true name. It is therefore altered into revolution by installments. The results are nevertheless the same. Expropriation of the wealthy is theft under any name. In every revolution of the past, words were revolutionized in meaning, and ordinary people were moved to extraordinary acts, without realizing that the impressive words had been redefined: justice meant injustice; freedom meant coercion; humanity meant savagery; non-violence meant war without end.

The mark of a Christian movement is its willingness to submit to the demands of Scripture. Not, mind you, merely to "principles" abstracted from their context and loaded with new content; but rather the actual, concrete, explicit statements of God's word. "You shall not steal," for instance: that must not be relativized on the mere excuse that the thief has no bread. It must not be violated just because someone has found a "principle" that God would like everyone to have bread. It must not be transgressed with the spurious rationale that the thief should have been given the bread in the first place. If you want principles, here's one: theft is theft. Easy to remember, uncomplicated and biblical.

The "Christian" who advocates theft in the name of social justice is in truth calling for the Revolution, whether or not he fully realizes what he is doing. And we must not allow the lovely sounds of the words to disguise their meaning. The great Dutch Christian historian of revolution, Groen van Prinsterer, pointed out that "wherever the Revolution has been at work it has become apparent that it considers law to be mere convention, a product of the human will." [6] We shall see that this is the mark of the "Christian socialist" movement as well-that its only real principle is the principle of unbelief:

The principle of unbelief-the sovereignty of reason and the sovereignty of the people—must end, while proclaiming Liberty, either in radicalism or in despotism: in the disintegration of society or in the tyranny of a state in which all things are levelled without any regard to true liberties and true rights. [7]

A man or movement may claim to be Christian, and yet not be; a man or movement may be Christian, and yet have unbiblical ideas. The test is Scripture, and Scripture alone. Not wishes, not "rights," not wants or needs; try every word a man speaks at the bar of God's inerrant Word. Those who advocate the lawless overthrow of society-even if it is technically "legal"-are opposing God's commands. The ultimate end of the Revolution is always unbelief. "The defining feature of the Revolution is its hatred of the Gospel, its anti-Christian nature. This feature marks the Revolution, not when it 'deviates from its course' and 'lapses into excesses,' but, on the contrary, precisely when it holds to its course and reaches the conclusion ofits system, the true end ofits logical development. This mark belongs to the Revolution. The Revolution can never shake it off. It is inherent in its very principle, and expresses and reflects its essence. It is the sign of its origin. It is the mark of hell." [8]

The brutality of the French Revolution was not endemic to that particular situation alone: it is essential to the very nature of the Revolution itself. All revolutions have begun with sincere pleas for liberation; all have been carried on by ever-increasing justifications of infringements on liberty; all have ended in chaos and tyranny. Revolt against God's eternal standards can produce nothing else. [9]

  1. James H. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1980), 41.[]
  2. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men, 257.[]
  3. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith, 252.[]
  4. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith, 316.[]
  5. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith, 258.[]
  6. G. Groen van Prinsterer, Unbelief and Revolution: Lecture XI (Amsterdam: The Groen van Prinsterer Fund, 1973), 10.[]
  7. Van Prinsterer, Unbelief and Revolution: Lecture X (1975), 73–75.[]
  8. Van Prinsterer, Unbelief and Revolution: Lecture VIII (1975), 29–30.[]
  9. See Otto Scott's Robespierre: The Voice of Virtue (Ross House Books, P.O. Box 67, Vallecito, CA 92521). This enlightening and thoroughly terrifying book is must reading for those who wish to study the rise and progress of revolutions.[]
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