Yesterday, I was preaching on 2 Samuel 5: David’s enthronement, finally, over all Israel and Judah, and his immediate, subsequent taking of Jerusalem by defeating the resident Jebusites. The Jebusites had been entrenched in that fortress city, and the children of Israel had been unable to run them out since entering Canaan (see Joshua 15:63 and Judges 1:21). For David, these defiant pagans were unfinished business for the people of Israel in light of His promises.
The problem was that the Jebusites had a powerfully entrenched position. Jerusalem was difficult to invade. One advantage for God’s people, however, was that this position made the Jebusites overconfident. So much so that they taunted David and his men when they approached: “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off” (2 Sam. 5:6). They were essentially saying to David, “You have no chance of beating us. Even our blind and lame could fight you off.”
It was like David and Goliath all over again: the Jebusites had tremendous tactical advantage. They cursed, they taunted, they laughed. But David knew the chink in the armor. He sent a man up the watershaft of the fortress to conduct a surprise guerilla attack. Joab went, and was successful (1 Chron. 11:6). It led to the defeat of the whole city.
I’ll do a fuller commentary on this passage in the future. For now, I want to highlight this little episode of taunting pagans being surprised by the success of a disadvantaged (to human eyes anyway) remnant of God’s faithful. I want you to think about that moment when the laughing, taunting, self-confident Jebusites first saw Joab climb out of that watershaft and start dismantling their defenses from within. Think of the shock. Think of the surprise, the alarm. Their overconfidence was shattered revealing the fear sheltered beneath it.
They knew God’s promises to His people. They thought their walls would prevent God’s Word from coming to pass. They thought human institutions would preserve their dominance. They were wrong. And when those defenses go, the reality of the promises sets in. Their fundamental, God-hating fear reasserts control over their hearts. Their taunts turn out to be nothing more than little revelations of their particularly perverted fear and hatred.
As I was preparing this message, and considering this point specifically, I happened across an article written last fall by a liberal scholar of religion who had just reviewed the newly-released (at that time) film by Kirk Cameron, Monumental. Her reaction was shock. Here’s why:
[I]f Monumental had had footnotes, they would have traced back directly to R. J. Rushdoony, the founder of the Christian Reconstructionist worldview.
The writer, University of North Florida professor Julie Ingersoll, is a career-foe of Christian Reconstruction. It’s her particular boogeyman mission. We have countered her attempts to smear us before. We expect nothing less from her now (though as we shall see, she has made progress—we pushed her in a corner). But this particular article is actually thrilling in what it reveals: Ingersoll is secretly scared to death, because we are having success. In her words, after viewing Monumental,
[A]s I sat in the theater recently, I was stunned at how thoroughly the film was shaped by the worldview articulated by Rushdoony a half century ago. I never expected to see “my folks” (as we ethnographers call the people we study) on the big screen in a packed theater (one of 550 nationwide) presenting the Rushdoony worldview to unsuspecting evangelicals, homeschoolers, and tea partiers.
There is probably nothing more fulfilling than to observe such a modern-day Jebusite “stunned” when we get up their watershafts. She would be even more stunned to learn that she’s wrong in believing many of the people sitting in those theaters are “unsuspecting.” Some probably have not heard of Rushdoony, but many have, and of those who have, many approve.
Even more stunning to the illegitimate occupiers of Zion’s territory—the thing that’s really got them scared to death—is that the basic message of Christian Reconstruction, theonomy, dominionism, or whatever you want to call it, resonates with even the premillennialists in that audience. When that message is presented free of the illegitimate baggage that its opponents have tried to pile upon it, thousands of fed-up conservatives and Christians begin nodding in agreement. They may have been trained in a particular pessimistic eschatology, but put in less distracting terms, they are at heart believers in God’s Law and Restoring America. That is, they want their country free again, and they want a better place for their children and grandchildren.
Efforts like Monumental are beginning to get to that message. And that leaves formerly overconfident liberals sitting stunned. They thought they had this thing under wraps.
One revelation is how Ingersoll never thought she would have to bother with Kirk back when he was the Left Behind star. People who believe they’ll be raptured out tomorrow, and that evil should in fact triumph in the meantime, are essentially rendered neutral in society. It would even be working against God for them to try to change society, so they don’t. Ingersoll does not fear this type of Christian; there is no bother over them, for their eschatology is the high walls of the liberal. Self-conscious premillennialists like these are the reason liberals like Ingersoll have a job in academia.
But the moment rumor began to get out, already before the movie was out, she wrote about “A Monumentally Different Kirk Cameron.” Indeed, Cameron had left that premillennialism that “depicted mainstream evangelicalism,” she said, and now he’s actually a threat. Time to sound an alarm.
The worst thing that could happen, she would probably say, is for mainstream evangelicalism to catch up to that same vision. As she watched the film, she sat stunned as that thing is beginning to blossom.
And I am here to tell you that what is blossoming has actually got roots far and beyond Monumental.
On another note, further proof of our progress appears in Ingersoll herself. She has been so beaten up for misrepresenting us that when she explains our agenda now, she actually gets very close. As I quote her, consider that this pretended exposé of Christian Reconstruction and its dangerous influence on Kirk Cameron is supposed to shock the general public into fear:
Christian Reconstruction promotes a “biblical worldview” with three interlocking theological notions. . . .
Presuppositionalism. . . . For Reconstructionists only two mutually exclusive starting points are possible: the true sovereignty and authority of the god of the Bible or the false claim of the supremacy of human reason. . . .
Postmillennialism, an end-times theology that challenges contemporary rapture theology, claims that the kingdom of God was established at the resurrection and is being realized as Christianity spreads across the world through the exercise of dominion. Its popularized versions are “dominion theology” and the effort to “restore America’s foundation” as a “Christian nation.”
Theonomy is the view that all law must be based in God’s law, which is to say biblical law. Reconstructionists look to ancient Israel as the model for society and to the Puritans as an exemplar of the modern application of biblical law. They argue for a distinction between theonomy and the more commonly used theocracy on the basis of what they claim is a biblical division of earthly authority set forth by God.
In their view, God ordained three separate spheres of human government: family government, church (ecclesiastical) government, and civil government. Each sphere is charged with certain responsibilities and restricted from activities belonging to another sphere: the family is to raise and educate children; the church is to spread the gospel and provide ecclesiastical discipline; and the civil government should do nothing more than punish evildoers and protect property. Looking to the civil government to do anything more (like provide education or a safety net for the poor) is idolatry. Each sphere is independent of the others (so the state is not subject to the church) but all three are under biblical law and “religious” in character.
Reconstructionists, unlike many Christians read the Bible as a coherent whole; both Old and New Testaments. They believe that the Trinity was present at creation and that while some parts of the Old Testament are no longer applicable, most of them are, giving them a somewhat different notion of the character of God than most contemporary Christians have
Articles like this are intended to scare two audiences primarily. First, Ingersoll’s fellow leftists. All you have to do is whisper “Bible” and that is accomplished. We expect this. This group, however, includes many liberal Jews, which is why she stresses that we believe the Trinity was present at creation. These Jews won’t like hearing that.
But second, this is intended to act as a foil to scare “standard mainstream evangelicalism.” While a few elements may be enough to do that in limited scenarios, consider how the broad swath of red state evangelicals and fundamentalists throughout this land, in this current socio-political climate, will react to a message that:
- Asserts the sovereignty of God and His Word over against the fallacies of human reason.
- Believes we should restore Christian values in America
- Believes those values should be based on the ten commandments
- Explicitly rejects contemporary notions of “theocracy,” and says the state should not be subject to the church.
- Believes family, church, and state are separate institutions that should all submit to God and not usurp each other.
- Believes the role of civil government should be drastically reduced.
- And last but not least—gasp!—actually believes the Bible is a coherent whole!
What say you to this, you rabble of “unsuspecting evangelicals, homeschoolers, and tea partiers”? I’ll tell you what I’d say, besides “Amen!” I’d say professor Ingersoll just shot herself in the foot.
Or, I would say Joab just got up the watershaft. The Jebusites are stunned.
I just wish I could have seen the look on their faces.