The chronicle of a dark and dangerous journey through a world gone mad.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

In Remembrance

I do not wear the highly decorated baseball caps, vest and jackets that many veterans choose.  My father did not care for flashy "professional veterans." Like him I only wear one of my generations versions of the "ruptured duck" lapel pin, either the Viet Nam Era service award, a Navy Honorable Discharge pin or a miniature National Defense Service ribbon. But lately, I have taken to wearing an inexpensive black aluminum bracelet.  Inscribed on it are the words, "HM2 Gregory Lance Koupe, 3rd BN, 11th Marine Regiment, 02/23/1969 Quang Nam, RVN." 

I did not know Greg Koupe but I know a bit about him.  He is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery near my home.  I drive near  his grave almost every day on my way to lunch.  He apparently died in a sapper attack on his firebase since his official cause of death is listed as "other explosive device."


I know that he was called "Doc," by the grunts around him of all ranks.  "Doc" in a Marine Corps unit was a very special guy.  Doc was treated with great respect.  Those grunts knew they were likely to get hit.  Doc was the guy who would run out under fire and keep you from dying where you lay.  Doc was the guy who would shoot you up with morphine when the pain was unbearable.  And, Doc was the guy who would get you on a dust off and back to a field hospital.  Doc's presence was vital because those grunts knew that they had a good chance of surviving a bad hit if he got to them in time. Corpsman were first or second targets the VC went after right after platoon leaders and their casualty figures reflected it.

Like me, he was probably musical, since the one Viet Nam picture of him I found online shows him playing a small autoharp. Like me, he was a Second Class Petty Officer, a pretty good place to be in the Navy.  That's the Army and Marine Corps equivalent of a buck sergeant. And, like so many of us back then, he was a part of the Navy that supported the Marine Corps in one way or another, in his case serving with them in the field under fire.

I know that Greg Koupe was probably well thought of in his unit because notice of donations to various Marine Corp causes still show up in the "Old Breed News." They read something like, "In memory of my friend, HM2 Greg Koupe."   

We Viet Nam Era Veterans are getting old now.  The current generation knows almost nothing about us or our war and what they do "know" is usually wrong.  John Kennedy sent our best and brightest to a place where they should never have gone and they performed brilliantly and loyally.  They won every battle but lost the war, not to the communists, but rather to our own domestic enemy, the foul smelling, hippy, communist loving, treasonous American left, who turned on those who served them so well, demonized them and eventually drove them into hiding for simply doing their duty.

I chose to put a face on my remembrance of those brave men who died unappreciated in a war nobody wanted.  That face is Greg Koupe.  And when I wear that bracelet with his name on it, I am reminded that by the grace of God, I got to come home and live the life that was denied to him.  I got to fly the freedom bird, see my wife and kid again, get a job, go to college and do all of the other things that were denied to him.

A moment's remembrance when I wear the bracelet is a small token to offer for the price he paid.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

BROKEN BOW, G-STRINGS AND DRAG QUEENS COMING SOON TO YOUR LOCAL PIZZA PARLOR


I pay more than passing attention to what is happening in the McCurtain County, Broken Bow area.  Sheila and I like to rent a cabin and slip off for a mini vacation down there as often as we can.  And, I have been poking around a bit looking for a piece of property down there for a cabin retreat for us to use part of the year and maybe rent part of the year.  

However, I am rethinking not only our defacto get away destination but also the possibility of investing down there ..... all because of the actions of one local pizza parlor.  The most popular pizza place in the area has created quite a stir by announcing that it may start sponsoring amateur strip tease and drag queen shows.  

I live in Mid-Town Tulsa.  I drive by several SOB's every day.  I see hookers working Admiral and Eleventh. We mid-towners have had to fight street prostitution on 11th street for years.  My wife actually chased one hooker down the street after she moved off of 11th and started working the street corner in front of our house.  I see trans prostitutes working 15th occasionally.  It all saddens me greatly.  There is no joy or fun in the sex business only despair.  I don't want to see it at my getaway.

Taking personalities and personal morality out of the argument, the fact is the owners are talking about turning the local pizza joint into a part time sexually oriented business (SOB). SOB's are strictly regulated by zoning and city statute in most cities. The reason is that they are known to increase crime and reduce property values.  https://psmag.com/.../heres-really-dont-want-strip-club   A strip club in the neighborhood reduces property values by almost 15%. https://www.realtor.com/.../things-that-affect-your.../

Some argue that an occasional strip show or drag queen night does not make the pizza parlor a sexually oriented business (SOB). In the eyes of the law they are correct. The difference between an SOB and an unlicensed bikini bar under Oklahoma law is about six square inches of fabric, a miniscule g string and a set of pasties. Unless local city or county government passes stricter definitions a g string and pasties is the limit before incurring SOB regulation on advertising, zoning, etc. However, most people will see it for what it is, exploiting sexual excitement for profit ..... defacto if not dejure a sexually oriented business. 

The question the owners have to ask themselves is, will the short term profit from a few big nights by out of town people make up for the loss of local business, the loss of goodwill and trouble these performances is going to cause. And then there is the silent boycott. Let me tell you how that works. The churches in the area will not picket and they will not threaten. But, some will exercise their constitutionally protected First Amendment right to speak out from the pulpit about an event or series of events that offends their moral standards. That's what churches do. Then, the members of those churches will start staying away. They will take their family business elsewhere and stop recommending the place to their friends. It's a silent snowball. Nothing will happen quickly but in six months or a year after the buzz has worn off that local family business will still be gone and it will be incredibly hard to get back. Small town folks have long memories.  The business itself will probably be gone.  On a national scale, K-Mart never came back after the American Family Association called them out for selling porn.  And now, Target is taking big hits on their balance sheet over their transgender bathroom policy.   https://www.afa.net/.../afa-target-boycott-crashes... 


The fact that this pizza parlor is getting ready to make one incredibly stupid business move wouldn't have changed my plans alone.  If they do this they will be out of business in a year or so anyway.  After the buzz wears off and the crowd moves on they will never get back the local business that they lost by offending a big chunk of the local population.  They will probably be gone by the time I would have invested.

But, what has changed both my vacation plans and my investment plans are the reactions of  some of the locals.  One poster on Facebook said that those of us who had different opinions should be "looked into" (aka doxxed in modern terminology) because since we were homophobic (an unproven accusation) we must also be racists.  Many were openly hostile toward the socially conservative and Christians who dared voice an opinion that disagreed with theirs.  Some came flat out and said that people like me should find another vacation spot.  A poorly thought out opinion for people who depend on tourism for their daily bread.  So, sadly, I have taken that posters advice.  I deal with this kind of rancor in Tulsa all of the time.  I don't need to drive three hours to get it in the boondocks. 
  The owners of this pizza parlor let an evil genie out of the bottle.  By appealing to the baser instincts of some of their local residents they put on display for the whole world to see a dark, ugly and frankly frightening side of their otherwise beautiful little community.

  

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Judge Not and Liberal Virtue Signalers

Lately, I have had a spate of virtue signalling millenials confront me with the odd notion that I cannot be a Christian because I do not subscribe to their patently un-biblical political views on issues like abortion, homosexuality, race and immigration.  Were the consequences not so deadly for their souls their pseudo virtuous breast beating would be kind of amusing because it violates the one piece of scripture that they always quote and always get wrong, Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that ye be not judged."  And yet here they are judging my Christianity through the lens of their own progressive liberal intolerance while loudly proclaiming their tolerance.  By misquoting Matthew 7:1 they are actually committing the act that the verse condemns - hypocrisy.

So, who actually IS a Christian?  It is perfectly defined in Romans 10:9: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." 

For the following to make sense you have to understand that the New Testament was written in Koine Greek, the common street language of the Roman Empire in the Middle East at the time the New Testament was written.

The word "confess" is the Greek word homologeo meaning to say exactly the same the same thing.  It is a legal term of agreement or contract.  The word "Lord" is the Greek word kuros which means absolute master.  It was often used in a military sense to denote a commanding officer who had life or death authority over his soldiers.  It was also used in the master slave relationship to denote the master.  You are literally agreeing to become the bond slave of Jesus Christ.   In modern terms the whole phrase could be transliterated to mean, "Publicly confess and contractually agree that Jesus Christ is the absolute master of your life in all things at all times."  

In the next phrase the word "believe" is the Greek word pisteuw which means to be convinced of and entrust or place absolute faith in.  The word "heart" is the Greek word kardia.  Over the last few decades, the term "believe in thine heart" has been mistranslated to mean some sort of emotional experience.  A little understanding of Greek culture is necessary here.  The New Testament Greek man thought the heart was the center of the intellect and soul and the stomach was the center of the emotions. A better definition would be "the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours."

So, to be a Christian you must "Publicly confess and contractually agree that Jesus Christ is the absolute master of your life in all things at all times and be convinced in your soul or mind, thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes and endeavours that God raised him from the dead."

So, if  you are truly a Christian then you must agree with God on any issue He addresses.  Homosexuality is a perfect example since it is addressed just a few chapters back in Romans 1 where homosexuality is condemned as a product of willful unbelief and disrespect:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth [l]in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident [m]within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not [n]honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and [o]crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for [p]a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed [q]forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is [r]unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing [s]indecent acts and receiving in [t]their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit [u]to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, [v]haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
After reading this passage of scripture you cannot in intellectual honesty say that homosexuality and Christianity are in any way compatible. To accommodate homosexuality you must either refuse to believe the plain meaning of the scriptures or dishonestly re-translate or re-interpret them.  And my friend, you CANNOT do that and still be Christian.    
    

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Calvinism, the Reformed Faith and The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate


A strange movement has developed of late whereby leading pastors of the reformed faith teach a doctrine that amounts to the divine right of kings.  Advocating an oversimplified obedience to passages such as Romans 13, some of these teachers such as Dr. John McArthur go so far as to posit that the American Revolution was an act of un-biblical  rebellion and that the American nation was founded in sin.

This teaching is seductive because it relieves both pastor and pew from involvement in public affairs and the troubling decisions that arise in the imperfect and often stormy relationship between the truly practicing Christian and government.  This doctrine sits well with oh so holy but culturally disengaged church leaders since it offers theological justification for withdrawal from the culture war being fought around them.  This compromise also sits well with the anti-Christian culture and offers them a great advantage.  The confessing church can believe what it will so long as they do nothing about it and keep their beliefs to themselves in their ever shrinking congregations but out of the public square.

The net result of this teaching to the casual hearer is a form of sanctified isolation and pacifism that is repugnant to both the scriptures and history. The early reformers would be appalled if they heard such a teaching in their name. John Calvin addressed the complexities of the Romans 13 dilemma well and in so doing set forth the founding principles of a legal theory known as the doctrine of the lesser magistrates:

"Although the Lord takes vengeance on unbridled domination, let us not therefore suppose that that vengeance is committed to us, to whom no command has been given but 2675 to obey and suffer. I speak only of private men. For when popular magistrates have been appointed to curb the tyranny of kings (as the Ephori, who were opposed to kings among the Spartans, or Tribunes of the people to consuls among the Romans, or Demarchs to the senate among the Athenians; and perhaps there is something similar to this in the power exercised in each kingdom by the three orders, when they hold their primary diets). So far am I from forbidding these officially to check the undue license of kings, that if they connive at kings when they tyrannise and insult over the humbler of the people, I affirm that their dissimulation is not free from nefarious perfidy, because they fraudulently betray the liberty of the people, while knowing that, by the ordinance of God, they are its appointed guardians.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapter 20, Para. 31.

Calvin went further in another passage "For earthly princes lay aside their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy to be reckoned among the number of mankind. We ought, rather, to spit upon their heads than to obey them." John Calvin Commentary on Daniel, Lecture XXX Daniel 6:22)

John Knox was a contemporary of Calvin and the founder of what we now know as the Presbyterian Church.  His dialogue with Queen Mary on this issue is most instructive:
Queen Mary: "Think ye that subjects, having the power, may resist their princes?" John Knox: "If their princes exceed their bounds, Madam, no doubt they may be resisted, even by power. For there is neither greater honor, nor greater obedience, to be given to kings or princes, than God hath commanded to be given unto father and mother. But the father may be stricken with a frenzy, in which he would slay his children. If the children arise, join themselves together, apprehend the father, take the sword from him, bind his hands, and keep him in prison till his frenzy be overpast: think ye, Madam, that the children do any wrong? It is even so, Madam, with princes that would murder the children of God that are subjects unto them. Their blind zeal is nothing but a very mad frenzy, and therefore, to take the sword from them, to bind their hands, and to cast them into prison, till they be brought to a more sober mind, is no disobedience against princes, but just obedience, because it agreeth with the will of God." At these words, the Queen stood as it were amazed, more than the quarter of an hour. Her countenance altered, so that Lord James began to entreat her and to demand, "What hath offended you, Madam?" At length she said: "Well then, I perceive that my subjects shall obey you, and not me. They shall do what they list, and not what I command; and so must I be subject to them, and not they to me." John Knox: "God forbid that ever I take upon me to command any to obey me, or yet to set subjects at liberty to do what pleaseth them! My travail is that both princes and subjects obey God. Think not, Madam, that wrong is done you, when ye are willed to be subject to God. It is He that subjects peoples under princes, and causes obedience to be given unto them. Yea, God craves of Kings that they be foster-fathers to His Church, and commands Queens to be nurses to His people. This subjection, Madam, unto God, and unto His troubled Church, is the greatest dignity that flesh can get upon the face of the earth; for it shall carry them to everlasting glory." John Knox being interrogated by Mary Queen of Scots http://www.reformation.org/john-knox-interview.html

Previously, in his famous Appellation to the Nobility and Estates of Scotland (1558) Knox had stated:

“For now the common song of all men is, ‘We must obey our kings, be they good or be they bad; for God has so commanded.....True it is, God has commanded kings to be obeyed; but likewise true it is, that in things which they commit against His glory, He has commanded no obedience, but rather, He has approved, yea, and greatly rewarded, such as have opposed themselves to their ungodly commandments and blind rage."
 Samuel Rutherford, another father of the modern reformed movement, was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and professor at St. Andrews college.  In his monumental work Lex Rex he states:
“I lay down this maxim of divinity: Tyranny being a work of Satan, is not from God, because sin, either habitual or actual, is not from God: the power that is, must be from God; the magistrate, as magistrate, is good in nature of office, and the intrinsic end of his office, (Rom. xiii. 4) for he is the minister of God for thy good; and, therefore, a power ethical, politic, or moral, to oppress, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power; and is no more from God, but from sinful nature and the old serpent, than a license to sin.” Samuel Rutherford, Lex Rex, Question IX 
Rutherford's statement echoes previous teachings by Augustine,"It seems to me that an unjust law is no law at all ..." and Aquinas, "Human law is law only by virtue of its accordance with right reason; and thus it is manifest that it flows from the eternal law. And in so far as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence."  Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, Ia-Ilae, q. xciii, art. 3, ad 2m


Great Britain's most famous jurist, Sir William Blackstone, was often called the legal father of the American Revolution.  Drawing from classical sources including Cicero and ecclesiastical sources such as Augustine and Aquinas, Blackstone codified the natural law of philosophy and made it literally the law of the land on both sides of the Atlantic for almost 200 years.  According to Blackstone:
 "This law of nature, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God Himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original ... The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures. ... Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these. ... And herein it is that human laws have their greatest force and efficacy: for, with regard to such points as are not indifferent, human laws are only declaratory of, and act in subordination to the former. To instance in the case of murder: this is expressly forbidden by the divine, and demonstrably by the natural law; and from these prohibitions arises the true unlawfulness of this crime. Those human laws that annex a punishment to it do not at all increase its moral guilt, or add any fresh obligation in foro conscientiae (in the court of conscience) to abstain from its perpetration. Nay, if any human law should allow or enjoin us to commit it, we, are bound to transgress that human law, or else we must offend both the natural and the divine.  Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Part the Second, On the Nature of Laws.

Blackstone's work cast a long shadow across the Atlantic.  It was literally revolutionary.  Some members of parliament accused Blackstone of fomenting the American Revolution.  At that time, there were more copies of his "Commentaries" in circulation in the colonies where they controlled their own printing presses than in the whole of Great Britain.  Historian David Barton explained the effect this way:
"... most Christian denominations during the Founding Era held that while they were forbidden to overthrow the institution of government and live in anarchy, they were ‘not’ required blindly to submit to every law and policy. Those in the Founding Era understood that the general institution of government was unequivocally ordained by God and was not to be overthrown, but that did not mean that God approved every specific government; God had ordained government in lieu of anarchy – He opposed anarchy, rebellion, lawlessness, and wickedness and wanted civil government in society. Therefore, a crucial determination in the colonists’ Biblical exegesis was whether opposition to authority was simply to resist the general institution of government (an institution ordained by God Himself), or whether it was instead to resist tyrannical leaders who had themselves rebelled against God. (The Scriptural model for this position was repeatedly validated when God Himself raised up leaders such as Gideon, Ehud, Jepthah, Samson, and Deborah to throw off tyrannical governments – leaders subsequently praised in Hebrews 11:32 for those acts of faith.)" 

In another treatise Barton explained:
“The Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon (also a signer of the Declaration) also affirmed: On the part of America, there was not the most distant thought of subverting the government or of hurting the interest of the people of Great Britain, but of defending their own privileges from unjust encroachment; there was not the least desire of withdrawing their allegiance from the common sovereign [King George III] till it became absolutely necessary – and indeed, it was his own choice. 27

"Significantly, as Dr. Witherspoon had correctly noted, it was Great Britain who had terminated the entreaties; in fact, during the last two years of America’s appeals, her peaceful pleas were directly met by armed military force. King George III dispatched 25,000 British troops to invade his own Colonies, enter the homes of his own citizens to take their private possessions and goods, and imprison them without trials – all in violation of his own British Common Law, English Bill of Rights, and Magna Carta (centuries old documents that formed the basis of the covenant between British rulers and citizens). Only when those governmental covenants had been broken by their rulers and America had been directly attacked did the Americans respond in self-defense.

"On the basis of these two theological understandings (that God Himself had ordained the institution of civil government, and that God had explicitly authorized civil self-defense) the Founding Fathers and the majority of American Christians in that day believed that they were conducting themselves in a manner that was not in rebellion to God or the Scriptures." http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=24548

Blackstone's radical theories of natural law based upon the word of God also had a profound effect in Great Britain:

"The fervor of abolitionism came from the New Testament, a body of literature providing the universal principles of natural law to attack slavery. Faith crossed borders and oceans, with Christians in both Britain and America invoking natural law first to end the slave trade (1807) and then to abolish it entirely within the British Empire (1833).

"The story really begins in Britain, where an unlikely Member of Parliament, William Wilberforce, courageously took up the cause of human emancipation, despite virtually universal opposition ..... he had a conversion experience leading him to devote his life to freeing those in bondage. In 1791, his bill to abolish the slave trade failed by a wide margin but he persisted. In 1807, Wilberforce released A Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade on the eve of Parliament’s overwhelming vote to end the trade in human beings—a remarkable change in fifteen years. In 1823, “God’s politician” began a ten-year campaign to end slavery entirely, releasing his Appeal to the Religion, Justice and Humanity of the Inhabitants of the British Empire in Behalf of the Negro Slaves in the West Indies, in which he claimed that total and unqualified emancipation was a moral and ethical “duty before God.” Wilberforce died in 1833 just as Parliament abolished slavery. His friend John Newton, once one of the cruelest of slave traders, later in life went through a similar “born again” experience and wrote the famous song “Amazing Grace”—hence the title of the movie about Wilberforce’s awe-inspiring campaign against slavery."
Throughout history, this conflict between blind obedience to civil authorities and rebellion against unjust authority has split the church.  In the 1930's the German church split into two groups, the "Reich Church" which was faithful to Adolph Hitler and the "Confessing Church" which openly opposed him as long as possible and then went underground.  The leader of the Confessing Church was Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who eventually became an agent of the German intelligence services who were plotting to assassinate Hitler.  He was executed for his part in the plot:

“After years spent openly opposing Adolf Hitler and encouraging Germans to turn against his regime, Dietrich Bonhoeffer — a Christian minister, theologian, pacifist and German citizen — made a deliberate turn from civil disobedience to secret participation in a cabal whose aim was to assassinate the Fuhrer. Bonhoeffer laid aside his Christian pacifism when he woke up to the fact that Hitler was engaging in genocide. This outraged Bonhoeffer, who held the deep religious conviction that the Jews were a people precious to God and deserving of protection, whatever the personal cost. As a pacifist, Bonhoeffer had quietly refused to join the military. With his newfound commitment to Hitler's murder he changed direction and joined the German Abwehr, the wartime intelligence agency headed by Admiral Wilheim Canaris. Canaris was secretly opposed to Hitler and was using Abwehr to launch a variety of plots against the Reich, including assassination attempts. Bonhoeffer never participated directly in such plots — they had to be carried out by the military, because officers were the only ones who could get close enough to the Fuhrer to kill him. Nevertheless, Bonhoeffer aided and encouraged these plots from his post inside the Abwehr. Pretending to be a loyal servant of Hitler's Reich, Bonhoeffer was in fact a double agent working towards Hitler's forcible overthrow.  http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2009/06/tiller-long-bonhoeffer

This historical theme presented itself again in the 1950's in the United States during the black Civil Rights Movement.  Dr. Martin Luther King stated:

“You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all." Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Letter From A Birmingham Jail

Later in the same letter, Dr. King observed:
"We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying
these anti-religious laws."  Ibid
Similar statements are now being heard from Christian leaders such as Mat Staver, Chief Counsel of Liberty Counsel and former Dean of Liberty University Law School:

“….this decision or opinion of five lawyers is not the rule of law, we have established or spoken about that, it is an illegitimate opinion just as many of the opinions of the Supreme Court have been absolutely illegitimate, wrong. They’ve been harmful and we have subsequently recognized them as such.  There is a concept that we have discussed in our marriage pledge about higher law and earthly law. This is a direct conflict with the higher law, so this is an opinion of five lawyers that’s illegitimate. They can have their opinion, we shouldn’t accept it as a legitimate rule of law — it’s not.”
Even institutions that many Evangelicals consider only nominally Christian institutions such as Catholic Hospitals are now under the gun:
“A systematic, more and more obvious persecution of Christians has been going on for some time. Its briefest statement is that no one can be a citizen of this country and a practicing Christian at the same time. Persecution is now so obvious that it needs little emphasis. Yet, most of our citizens refuse to acknowledge it or do anything about those elected and unelected officials, from the president on down, who carry it out in increasingly ominous ways. This country itself was designed to prevent precisely this sort of public persecution. We suddenly realize that the constitutional mechanism to prevent this persecution is not working but is being used to foster, indeed justify, the persecution.” Rev. James v. Schall, SJ http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/will-catholic-hospitals-be-the-next-target
Just as in the first American Revolution, the time has come for a biblical response to an American system of civil government that has proven itself to be illegitimate in the eyes of God.  Such a response is grounded in both solid theology and history. American Christians are now faced with fewer and fewer choices in addressing a civil government bent upon, at minimum, driving them from the public square if not destroying them outright as a cultural influence. They can do nothing and by so doing side with the powers of darkness. Martin Luther spoke to this:

"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved to be steady… [It] is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point [of attack]." Quoted by Francis A. Schaeffer in The Great Evangelical Disaster, Crossway, 1984, p. 50-51

Or, they can join their forefathers on the path of the confessing Christian citizen.  Direct legal, political and military action by which the authority of a sitting sovereign is declared illegitimate should be the last resort to be engaged in defensively only after all other avenues of recourse and means of appeal have either been exhausted or conclusively proven futile ... and legitimate lesser magistrates are in agreement. Again, this should be the last resort but it should not be condemned as unscriptural.  This was the model of the first American Revolution.

The path of the Christian citizen does not promise that its followers will enjoy the temporary advantages that come from obsequious servitude to an illegitimate sovereign. As a matter of fact, it almost certainly assures that you will lose position, privilege, property, friends and even family.  But, it also promises a clear conscience before God and an eternal legacy on the right side of history.


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 A Postscript:

A few Sundays ago, I attended a church where the pastor made a statement that made me want to stand up and cheer.  I have said it myself thousands of time.  But, this pastor, a stranger to me, repeated my thoughts almost verbatim.  He looked up from his Bible in the middle of his sermon, looked out across the congregation and said solemnly, "If you are able to live in this culture in the state it is in right now and you are not suffering persecution, then you need to examine your position in Christ."  

The good pastor's brutally honest statement assumes two facts not really in evidence in modern Christianity.  The first is that the pulpits of America are plainly and simply identifying the confessing Church's duty to oppose evil in society.  This is too often simply not the case.  Too many otherwise doctrinally sound churches operate in almost complete isolation from the culture around them.  It is possible to attend extremely orthodox churches for years and never once hear the pulpit say plainly and simply, "abortion is murder and it is your duty as a Christian to never do anything to even accommodate it much less participate in it," or "homosexuality is an abomination before God and man and it is your duty to never, ever treat it as normal much less accommodate it."

The second fact not in evidence is the notion that Christians actually practice what is taught in the pulpit.  After a couple of decades of practicing law in the Christian community, I can tell you firsthand that serious Christianity is very much a Sunday "suit of clothes" for a lot of people occupying the pews.  If taken seriously, in this culture, the teaching mentioned in the last paragraph would cause many successful Christian professionals such as doctors and lawyers to lose their privileges and many more Christians in the workforce to lose their jobs.  But, this of course begs the original question, if you as a Christian are still functioning successfully in this evil environment how have you avoided the consequences of standing for your faith?  Perhaps, that is the ultimate question.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Letter To A Christian Candidate circa 2013


December 10, 2013

Rev. Blair:

I was present at the Patriot Pastor’s luncheon in Tulsa when you spoke. I have walked the path that you are now taking and know where some of the landmines are located. Remember Santyana’s famous quote, "Those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it."

I watched as Jerry Falwell raised the Moral Majority, as Pat Robertson raised the “Christian Coalition” and then ran for President. I watched as Dr. James Dobson followed it all by defining and leading the “religious right” and “values voters.” I was a loyal foot soldier in each of these movements. But, I watched our leaders produce GOP majorities time and again that did absolutely nothing to further our agenda and in fact held us and them in public contempt. Soon our own leaders adopted the contempt for its workers shown by the political class. I watched heartbroken as our religious leaders who set out to change the political system were instead changed by it and became something that was neither religious nor right.
 

What were their mistakes?

First, you must preach a pure gospel. It is easy to draw a crowd by feeding them a constant stream of current events, political rhetoric and badly thought out patriotism. The faith that we share is neither political nor changed by current events. It is not limited to one country or one political system. Its power to change societies lies in its ability to produce men who will die for these universal principles of the faith in the certain knowledge that they are serving a power higher than any earthly regime, political party or country. That knowledge is not and cannot be based solely upon temporal issues. They must first know and commit their lives to the unchanging moral principles contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is an old saying in the military, “You’ll never take a hill you’re not willing to die on.” I didn’t learn that saying in the military. I learned it from Bruce Green, former chief counsel of the American Family Association, former chief counsel of the ADF and former Dean of Liberty Law School. We were sitting at dinner. He was telling us, a small group of new Christian civil rights lawyers, that we had to be willing to sacrifice our careers in the profession of law if we intended to win battles for the Lord. There could be no compromise in the type of battle he was sending us out to fight if we expected to win.

So, the primary task of a true “Great Awakening” style revival must be a return to the purity of gospel. Your altar calls must produce not just changed minds but changed lives. Converts must willingly accept Bonhoeffer’s costly grace that calls them not just to eternal life but also to worldly death, not only spiritually in terms of self-will but also socially, financially and sometimes even physically. Only the pure gospel will produce believers who will stand in the time of trial. If you do not preach the pure gospel, you will produce shallow quasi-converts who are incapable of standing when called upon. Be warned my brother, I have served alongside these people. They will betray you and the gospel when things get tough. They will be dazzled by access to power and in turn betray you to that power all the while thinking that they have served the Lord by compromising His principles.

Second, you have to have a plan beyond just revival meetings. There is a passage in Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities” where a dishonest, black, New York civil rights figure explains the real political system to a naïve white lawyer trying to do the right thing. He explains that any kind of political turmoil is just fire under a boiler. That fire produces steam which is in turn controlled by valves and then directed to do whatever the person controlling the valves decides to do with it. The people stoking the fire have no say in the final outcome. It was the civil rights workers job to simply keep the fires stoked in return for which he was paid handsomely regardless of the final use of the steam. That is a perfect picture of the church’s involvement in politics for the past forty years. We have provided the steam and let other people turn the valves and thus steer the ship to a place nobody wanted to go.

So, in order to “control the steam” you first have to produce foot soldiers who, once elected or appointed, will die before they compromise. But even that is not enough. They also have to be trained to do their jobs effectively. That is a long process that may require a generation or more to complete. Our “movement” needs to first produce faithful, hardened foot soldiers and then from their ranks produce equally hardened leaders to place in positions of public authority. They must be trained, competent, disciplined and above all loyal to the cause of Christ. I can’t count the number of times I have watched a Christian go into politics to change it and even before they are elected, they are instead changed by system and turned into just another “stoker.” I’m watching one local candidate carefully right now. If you do not develop your movement in a way that you control the steam as well as the stokers, you will always be controlled by people who do not share your values and will eventually betray you. It’s not enough for them have good intentions and call themselves “Christian.” They have to be smart enough to take on the best the world has to offer, tough enough to challenge the worldly mindset in almost every situation and well educated enough to be respected as they do it.

The classic example of this was a well-known retired pro football player/congressman who also sat on the board of Focus on the Family. I gained his staff’s ire when, as president of the Christian Legal Society at the University of Tulsa, I refused to invite him in for “debates” on key legal and social issues. I had watched him perform there before. He wasn’t trained in the law and couldn’t hold his own on the issues. The law students tore him to shreds much less the professors. The law school only wanted me to invite him to give the mostly liberal law students confidence in their cause through an easy “victory.” Later, this congressman was badly tricked and outmaneuvered in the Elian Gonzales affair and made an absolute fool of himself. This wasn’t well known in his home district and I was ostracized when I had the bad taste to say back home what was common knowledge in D.C.

Third, you must reclaim cultural institutions. The church tends to ignore cultural institutions because they don’t understand them and they are viewed as “enemy territory.” Education, classical music, the arts and the sciences were all once the province of men of faith. Instead of ignoring these institutions we have to first learn about their Godly heritage and then reclaim them. Our enemies criticize people of faith for being anti-intellectual and in many cases they are correct. Many in the church have developed a “Dick the Butcher” attitude toward the professions, arts and science. This new movement must embrace Godly knowledge in all its forms because the knowledge that flows from application of the pure gospel must be applied by men with the education, knowledge and skills to do it both faithfully and skillfully. If you do not reclaim cultural institutions, your movement will die in one generation and the currently dominant worldview in these institutions will prevail by default.

In summary, it will not be enough to have a series of “successful” meetings where people get excited and promise to do things they don’t know how to do or don’t have the skills to complete. The only hope is a genuine spiritual and cultural revival based upon the timeless gospel of Jesus Christ in all of its purity. When that seed is planted, the right crop will grow. Time and effort must be taken to disciple men first in the Lord and then in the art of politics. It has to be in that order and it may take a generation. Finally, instead of avoiding classical learning and the professions, this movement must embrace them and reclaim them for the Lord so that they can again take their proper place in society.

Too many people in our movement believe that we are ready for a second American revolution. They are hopelessly naïve. First, from a spiritual and political standpoint we are not ready. The Great Awakening came BEFORE the American Revolution. Without another Great Awakening a second American Revolution would be doomed to failure from within. Second, the times and tactics have changed. The American Revolution happened at a very fortuitous time in history when a rebel force could still have a fair chance against an established army and navy. Today, the whole Continental Army at Valley Forge could be taken out in one airstrike.

Yours in Christ,

Bill Kumpe

In Requiem the Religious Right (2001)


This article was originally published  soon after the  Bush II  nomination and the  shameful events at the GOP convention where leaders of the religious right were removed from the speaker's schedule in favor of  gay friendly speakers and told to stay out of sight.  The article gained national attention on the net  and was  quickly  quashed by everyone except the Lone Star Conservative  who kept a copy  up  long after everyone else had caved:

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From 1980 until 1992 Republicans occupied the White House. There can be little serious argument that the key voting bloc in those Presidential victories was the so-called "religious right." They were everywhere in the party from local precinct meetings to the podium of the national convention. They were the single most loyal and dependable voting bloc in the GOP. However, during the last GOP convention, leaders of the religious right were actually asked to stay out of view while so-called moderates espousing abortion, feminism, gay rights and affirmative action were allowed to make prime time network appearances. Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" fell on to the dust heap of political insignificance years ago. Founder Pat Robertson resigned from all participation in the Christian Coalition last week. What happened to the religious right? How could the most powerful voting bloc in the party come to such a state in just a few years? In my opinion, (1) they didn't learn that access does not equal influence; (2) they learned too late that fraternization can lead to assimilation; (3) they forgot that promises must be followed by performance; and (4) they forgot that principle must control politics.

Access without influence:

Access to political figures is a heady thing. Simply being in the presence of power has a narcotic effect. However, the fact that the Congressman or Senator will take five minutes to visit with you means nothing if the visit does not accomplish some useful purpose. Unfortunately, to many political access was and is frequently seen as an end rather than a means. Access means nothing if it does not result in influence. Access means you get invited to political and quasi-political social functions, the candidate or official calls you "my dear friend" or "tireless worker" in public, etc. For some people these sometimes empty symbols of recognition are the raison de etre of political effort. However, influence means that at the end of a meeting the politician forwards your agenda and defends it when necessary against your enemies. Access without influence is hypocrisy on the part of the politician and self-delusion on the part of the voter or worker.

From fraternization to assimilation:

It is a law of the universe that in every exchange one or both sides will be changed in some way by the other. The only question is who will change and to what degree? The religious right at its peak was a mile wide but in most places only an inch deep. Doctrinally weak in their own beliefs and lacking any real political education, many members of the religious right turned from wary fraternization to unthinking assimilation into the GOP mainstream. Equipped only with buzz words and biblically correct though intellectually unsupported political positions, many fell prey to better educated, more grounded "moderate" influences in the party.

The civil rights movement of the 1960's proved to be a political windfall for the Democratic party. By positioning themselves as the sole friend of America's largest untapped bloc of voters they assured themselves an unquestioningly loyal base to work from for generations. Desperate to counter this bloc, GOP strategists sought to isoloate a similar bloc of voters and found them in the under-represented sleeping giant of the American church. It was a brilliant political coup of massive proportions by GOP strategists. Millions of once conservative religious voters of both parties became part of the GOP "mainstream" within two or three election cycles. Without a clear cut political philosophy or adequate analytical tools, they became a politicians dream, a mass of easily influenced voters easily led to the left, right or center as needed to forge the necessary coalitions to gain or maintain power. And, as evidenced at the last convention, they can even to be told to sit down and shut up and still be depended upon to vote for the GOP candidate.

Looking back, the church failed to ground its people in the practical application of key doctrines and when its members were let out into the political system to change the world they were instead changed themselves.

Promises without performance:

The absolute proof of the failure of the religious right lies in its legislative record on key issues. The promises of the candidates that the religious right swept into power have not been followed by performance on the agreed upon agenda. While some good work has been done, while they frequently won the battle to elect their candidates they lost the post election legislative battles and are thus still losing the culture war.

GOP candidates waved the bloody red shirt of abortion in every election from state house to the white house for years. Judicial reform was a key issue among religious right intellectuals. But, after twelve years of Reagan-Bush, abortion was and is still legal until seconds before birth. Far from being over, the battle over abortion is being bitterly fought as we speak in the halls of Congress where a GOP majority has been quietly spiking pro-life legislation. Many cynics believe that they do this because they would rather have the issue and the votes it produces than victory. After twelve years in power, the Supreme Court's makeup did not appreciably change. Scared into submission by the vitriol of the Bork battle, only one true conservative Justice, Clarence Thomas, was nominated. And, even that victory was offset by the appointment of the strongly left leaning David Souter and the unpredictable Justice Kennedy. As we speak, even moderately conservative appointments by the second Bush administration are bound up in committee and political infighting. Pornography advanced from carefully zoned red light districts and movie houses into every home through the internet. Our national media is a sewer of perversion, far worse than before. Scenes and themes appear nightly on network television that were relegated to movie houses and premium cable channels only a decade ago. Premium cable channels show perversion that I will not describe twenty four hours a day seven days per week. And, anti-Christian bias in the culture and courts is now worse than ever. By any objective measure, the religious right won its political battles for the GOP but lost the war to implement its agenda.

Politics without Principle:

The key to the problem lies in the fact that Christian voters do not follow their issues. Trained by their churches to let the guy behind the pulpit worry about doctrine, they apply the same principle to their politicians. They can be quickly mobilized to elect a candidate but then either blindly hero worship him or worse simply lose interest. It is almost impossible to get Christian voters to criticize a candidate they helped to elect or hold him accountable for his actions. Once in office, he can abandon the agenda and they will simply look the other way. Until the religious voter learns to hold their candidates feet to the fire on key issues, regardless of short term loss of access, they will not change the political system or the culture. The pro-abortion lobby has not changed its position on key issues in thirty years. It has to date never supported a moderately pro-life candidate to help the Democratic party win a key election as pro-lifers have been asked to help so-called "moderate pro-choice" candidates time and again by the GOP. The same is true but to a much higher degree if that is possible for the gay lobby. The education lobby moves further left every election. Their extreme positions cost the Democratic party millions of voters and yet their access and influence within the party are unchallenged. The reason these hard line left wing ideologues remain powerful despite their relatively small number is simple. They take no prisoners. If their candidates stray from their positions they punish them. They are in the game for the long haul and stay focussed on their issues.

Shamefully, it must be said that in practice on the political playing field, the abortion rights lobby, the public education lobby and the gay rights lobby are far more dedicated to their cause than the Body of Christ. This has led to a new set of paradigms in GOP politics. Run right govern center. Stay in office by staying flexible. Political expediency governs the application of principle. Say what you have to to get elected but remember who on "the Hill" will punish you if you cross them. GOP candidates know that by simply learning a few Christian buzz words, getting the right high profile Christian to sit beside you at a meeting, attending a few prayer breakfasts, etc. that many gullible voters will vote for them. Later after the election, if even asked, failure to produce on their agenda can be blamed on the opposition, the courts or the bureaucracy. Cynically, the political key to the Christian vote is simply saying the right things on the stump that you can later deny privately on the hill, sometimes even before the election is over! And, the issues will be lying there waiting to be taken up again during the next election cycle.

Summary:

Christian citizens must learn to participate in the political system in a way that does not compromise their key principles. They must get past the hero worshipping, elect 'em and forget 'em, style of participation and learn to track issues and measure results. They must learn to hold their candidates accountable and be ready to punish them when necessary even if it means losing access or even an election. Paradoxically in this conversation at least, Christians are not accountable in the end for results only faithfulness. They must remain faithful to their principles, support faithful politicians and refuse to support unfaithful ones. They must become every bit as dedicated to their issues as their opposition. Fortunately, gutsy, hard-ball faithfulness to the cause, as evidenced by the other side, is good politics and the only way to gain permanent influence in the political system.