Exactly 20 years ago, on December 15, 1989, a small crowd of parishioners of the Hungarian Reformed Church in Timişoara gathered in front of the church flat where their pastor lived. The occasion was the eviction orders to their pastor set for that day by a Romanian civil court. The group formed a human chain around the flat. When the police arrived to remove the pastor from the flat, the crowd had grown to several hundred strong; they were singing hymns in the brutally cold weather and from their words the police guards understood that the people were determined to stay and prevent the eviction of their pastor.
Some of the inspiration I get for writing articles comes from emails I receive from supporters and antagonists. I received the following email the other day from a supporter who had a good question about a misunderstood and misapplied Bible passage:
The chairwoman of the Texas school board makes the point that the seven Christians on the board are not trying to inject into the historical record what isn’t there but rather to uncover facts that have been suppressed (see related article). “I don’t know that what we’re doing is redefining the role of religion in America,” says Gail Lowe. “Many of us recognize that Judeo-Christian principles were the basis of our country and that many of our founding documents had a basis in Scripture. As we try to promote a better understanding of the Constitution, federalism, the separation of the branches of government, the basic rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, I think it will become evident to students that the founders had a religious motivation.”
What is government? When this question is asked, most people respond by equating government solely to a centralized civil State. Even our language reflects the confusion: “Government? It’s in Washington,” or “The government will take care of its citizens through its many programs.” Both of these statements reflect a misunderstanding of the true nature of government. They portray the idea that the only governing institution is a political one. Historically, however, the term “government” was always qualified in some way, unlike our present-day definitions.
I refuse to be comforted. I refuse to listen to sermons that assure me that “whatever happens, God is in control.” I refuse to read and listen to pastors, authors, and leaders that comfort me with God’s peace when everywhere around me I see God’s war.