Fast forward to December 18, 2018. This is not satire. National Review reports: Scotland’s Parliament has made the decision to ban “gingerbread men” from a coffee shop at its capitol over concerns that the name of the cookie perpetuates sexism. Each of these cookies will now instead be called a “gingerbread person”……..
Let’s see if I have this right: gingerbread men are sexist, no, that’s not it, they are inanimate after all, so the modifier of gingerbread figures, being men, is sexist? Does that mean men are sexist, or the word itself is sexist? What is sexist anyway? Whatever it is, it must be pretty serious for the Scottish parliament to even discuss it, let alone ban gingerbread men over it. The purpose of this exercise is…..what? According to the news source, the change was made after it was discovered that more than 30 percent of female ministers in Holyrood (for my American readership, Holyrood Castle is the official residence of the Scottish king and queen, not a misspelling of Hollywood) said that they had suffered some sort of sexual harassment. Hmm, two thoughts: the female ministers are probably government rather than religious officials, since Parliament is right next to Holyrood, and thus probably have the power to punish malefactors, unless such malefactors are their bosses, and what exactly constitutes sexual harassment in their case? I would guess this is aimed at their bosses, higher ministers of some sort.I actually don’t think that the name of a seasonal cookie is responsible for workplace sexual harassment. I actually don’t think that there are men out there who are perfectly good, well-behaved dudes, and who then see these cookies and as a result suddenly cannot stop themselves from sexually harassing women. I also doubt that any workplace predators are going to see that the names of the cookies were changed and then go, “Oh wow! Gingerbread persons. I guess I shouldn’t be telling Susan her a** looks nice when she comes in to work the morning!” says the writer of this article National Review, who is a woman. She’s right, and pretty angry at the meaningless gesture. Okay, I think I just got the answer to my second question. Sexual harassment is telling a woman her ass looks nice (aside, the British term for ass is bum, but maybe Scottish men persons say ass, and either way, that’s low class).
Enough gratuitous humor, what about better ideas? 1. Keep calling them gingerbread men, but paint a red stain on their crotch to suggest castration; 2. Sell gingerbread women too, armed with gingerbread brass knuckles, gingerbread AR-15, and a chastity belt; 3. Position both gingerbread sexes in anti-harassment displays, with the women standing over the men, who are prostrate; 4. Feature only sexually ambiguous gingerbread figures in the gift shop; 5. My favorite, keep the gingerbread folk as they are, and castrate the human malefactors, and then parliament for this whole stupid idea.
From Roman Catholicism to Christian Reconstruction
Rather than trace the beginning of Roman Catholicism, and the “divine” authority of the Pope, I will simply render an opinion that RC was based on a misinterpretation of Jesus’ words, “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” That is why RCs believe that the authority of the Pope is directly passed down from the apostle Peter. Over time, power corrupts, and by the time of Martin Luther, the RC church had become thoroughly corrupt. More important, they taught salvation by a combination of human effort (works) and blessings of human RC authority, imbuing the latter with the power to forgive sins against God, a power given only to Jesus Christ. The RC Church was a great political and religious power in Luther’s time.
Martin Luther was a devout Christian monk, who was very disturbed by the corruption of the RC church, but didn’t know how to combat it. Then one famous day, he was reading a passage from the book of Romans 1:17, “For therein is the righteousness of God is revealed from faith, to faith: as it is written: ‘The just shall live by faith.” Luther’s heart, in his words, “became warm within me”, and came to understand justification–appropriating Jesus’ righteousness–as being entirely the work of God. Against the teaching of his day, Luther asserted that Christians receive that righteousness entirely from outside themselves; that righteousness not only comes from Christ, it actually is the righteousness of Christ, and remains outside of us but is merely imputed to us (rather than infused into us) through faith. “That is why faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law,” said Luther. “Faith is that which brings the Holy Spirit through the merits of Christ”. Thus faith, for Luther, is a gift from God, and “. . .a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it.” This faith grasps Christ’s righteousness and appropriates it for itself in the believer’s heart.
Martin Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms (or two reigns) of God teaches that God is the ruler of the whole world and that he rules in two ways, both by the law and by the gospel. God rules the earthly realm through secular government, by means of law and the sword. As Creator God would like to promote social justice, and this is done through the political use of the law. At the same time God rules his spiritual kingdom, in order to promote human reconciliation to God. This is done through the gospel, according to which all humans are justified by God’s grace alone..'” Luther came to one of his most important understandings, that the “righteousness of God” was not God’s active, harsh, punishing wrath demanding that a person keep God’s law perfectly in order to be saved, but rather that God’s righteousness is something that God gives to a person as a gift, freely, through Christ. The last two paragraphs are the core, the primary doctrines of Protestant theology, the “protest” in Protestantism being against the doctrines of the RC church. Luther’s literal protest of the RC church practices was called the “95 theses”, which he mailed to the Archbishop of Mainz in 1517.
Unfortunately, human egos and designs being what they are, Protestantism eventually split into denominations, based on disagreements about the secondary doctrines, such as baptism, church government and so forth. So today we have Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal et al denominations and Episcopal, Presbyterian and Congregational church government structures. I consider myself non-denominational (no denomination) and lean to the Presbyterian form of government (elders guide and counsel but no bosses, like bishops) because that was how the original, apostolic church was governed.
There is another area of disagreement, centered around whether Jesus’ rule has already begun, or will begin in the future with His return to earth from heaven, after the rapture (instant transition of believers from earth to heaven). I don’t get into those controversies, there’s been enough written to defend both positions, but what matters is how we conduct ourselves during our time here. A general category of people who believe that Christ is already reigning from heaven, and expects His people to function as partners in the “family business” (Jesus is the owner, His sons and daughters are the partners) is called Christian Reconstruction. The best contrast between that philosophy and what I call the “Rapture Hope” philosophy is how we conduct ourselves in everyday faithfulness to our callings.
Our callings are, in order of priority, our faith, our family, our culture, our occupation. Since I am firmly in the CR/family business camp, I do not spend any time wishing for the rapture or speculation on when evil will be wiped out by Christ’ return. Rather, I am faithful to my callings, as a way of showing what the gospel looks like. Unfaithful Christians who don’t recognize their role in the Family Business live like they are waiting for Christ to come rescue them from their bad decisions, or they engage in futile speculation about Christ’s return, even though He has said “no one but the Father knows the time.” I don’t get discouraged about the evil I see, because I know the outcome. Death itself has been defeated by Jesus’ resurrection, evil has been conquered, though it should be understood through this lesson: He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.“‘” – Matthew 13:25-30
Evil is the weeds. They grow only for the inevitable day when they will be plucked out. Who will? I don’t pretend to know, nor do I speculate. My calling is to spread the good news of “freedom for the captives.”
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more .” Hebrews 8:10-12.
“And I will remember their sins no more” sayeth the Lord. The “merciful toward their iniquities” part is the forgiving and the “remember their sins no more” part is the forgetting.
Today, I read a post by Douglas Wilson on how Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, introduces the report of the Southern Baptist Convention that tries to confess, repudiate, and atone for their historical sins of racism and slavery. He had a link from the post to the Christian Daily Reporter, which featured a Twitterlogue (what passes for dialogue these days) on reparations. Let me define that word so there’s no confusion.Reparations is paying someone living for the suffering of someone long dead by extracting/extorting money/favors from the innocent living due to the sins of the guilty dead, and is evidence of lack of godly forgiving and forgetting. Specifically in this case, alive white Americans who had nothing personally to do with slavery–let’s say they had moved here from Sweden–are coerced into paying alive black Americans, who might or might not be the descendants of slaves–they might have moved here last year from the Sudan–because dead white Americans enslaved dead Africans, with the cooperation and active participation of other Africans. Am I missing anything? Oh yeah, some say the reparations are compensation for the labor stolen from slaves and the resulting profits made by slave-owners. Two points: 1. Why are you entitled to be paid, and by whom? 2. While white southern slave owners got cheap labor from slavery, and thus remained an agrarian society, northern factory owners who got cheap labor from immigrants and kids built an industrial society that conquered the south through the sheer weight of manufacturing capacity. Both groups were exploiters, but the slave owners got the worst of the deal. Where are all the descendants of the immigrants and exploited kids demanding reparations? That’s where it gets complicated, because without the clear demarcation of melanin content, how do you tell the exploiter descendants from the exploitee descendants?
My playing around with the idea of reparations obscures the much bigger, more important point. I will let pastor Wilson explain: this is how we know that gospel is missing. When you are preaching free grace to a people who have been lost in sin for centuries, and who have done innumerable foul deeds, how long before a minister of grace is authorized to offer them a full and complete certificate with no condemnation stamped on it? That offer can be made, must be made, needs to be made by the end of the sermon. But in this set up, with regard to this original sin of American slavery, under no conceivable scenario will Al Mohler ever be allowed to stand before the students of Southern Seminary and declare to them that their sins are entirely and completely forgiven. He will never be allowed to say, “It is finished.” He will never be permitted to say, “Behold, all things are made new.” He will not be allowed to say that forgiveness has been sought, and extended, and all biblical forms of restitution offered, and received, and the matter is therefore concluded. So what would happen if Al Mohler were to offer a definitive and final assurance of pardon to white people? Are you kidding me? The reaction would be volcanic. And why would a volcanic reaction to such a statement happen? Guilt can always be monetized, and free grace can never be. Now let’s hear from a “woke” believer in reparations who either attends or might like to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: “Good first step. Now reparations are due; not only symbolically but financially. This can take various forms but nothing short of free tuition & student loan debt cancellation for Black Americans who attended and will attend SBTS in the future. Reparations must follow repentance.” M.DivA@sista_theology.
Wilson again: White privilege is the sin of simply being white, and it is—in this vile new religion—an unforgivable one. Two hundred years from now, white boy, your descendants will continue being white, in their unrepentant insolence. In fact they are probably really white, your great grandparents having emigrated here from Finland in the 1920’s, having had no more to do with slavery than can be read about in a history book. And—if we continue selling ourselves into spiritual bondage this way, into this bizarre form of works righteousness—when those descendants of yours encounter a black man on the street, they will cringe with the burden of all that guilt inside. And why? Two hundred years from now they will cringe, and why? Because they encountered on the street a descendant of that evil African chieftain who sold thousands of his black brothers into the horrific slavery of the Middle Passage. And this is the place where we discover that the point is actually not who is actually descended from criminals then, but rather what criminal color one is now.
Now back to me: The choice is stark; we can forgive as God forgives, which is to “remember no more” or we can forgive BUT, give me reparations. Speaking personally, if you want to expiate your feelings of guilt over something that someone of similar melanin content did long before you were born, go ahead and “write the first check.” I ain’t playin!
“The values that are shared are themselves ugly....equality for women is an equality that allows everyone to be equally crude, violent and foul mouthed. Sex is recreational; the mouth is for swearing and the body for beating. I have read reviews that rejoice that in the name of equality there is at last a tough woman who can use violence as sickeningly as any perverted man. Is that really a reason for rejoicing? There is one scene where the middle aged Mildred kicks one schoolboy in the crotch and just for equality does the same to a schoolgirl. Oh how the audience laughed! At the kind of behaviour that would have anyone locked up in jail and accused of child abuse.
“That’s where my real problem lay. The people around me in the cinema – doubtless impeccable middle class liberals all – who would regard Donald Trump as the Devil and capital punishment as evil – laughed at jokes about capital punishment, rape, abuse and racism. The film tried to be clever by tying together the darkness of these subjects and the quirkiness and humour of humanity. For me, it just did not work. The same people who shriek in horror at the crudeness of Trump; smiled and laughed at something far worse.
“This is not a film about ‘us’ – it is a film about them. As the Hollywood elites gather for their self-congratulatory party, they will virtue signal like mad about how they have forgotten their Weinsteinian ways (although not their Polanskian apologetics) and are now all for equality and diversity, but meanwhile they will continue to look down their noses at anyone who does not share their values. They will wear their slinky black dresses and their #MeToo badges and yet honour a film that exalts the kind of crudity and violence that would make Donald Trump blush. Why is it that small town America is where you make these kind of ‘them’ films, not the liberal communities in California or New York? Why is it that it is always white working class Americans (usually males but often the hard bitten sour faced drunken women) who are portrayed as the untermenschen underclass? Is it because you can watch the savages in the Coliseum, and get to peer at their violence, crudity and dysfuntionality, whilst thanking yourselves that you are not like them?
“Three Billboards is a signpost. A signpost to an ugly world where violence, rape and racism are subjects of humour, and where the good and virtuous can thank God that they are not like the dumb peasants who inhabit the world they do not live in. Christianity is so different. We recognize that we are as much sinners as anyone. And the signposts we raise are there to point, not to the ugliness and twistedness of humanity, but to the beauty of Christ, who came to give us beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, the spirit of praise, for the garment of heaviness.”
He understands both small town America, which he likes and respects, and the Hollywood/media complex, which he, and I, feel nothing but pity and contempt for.
We Americans hear endless criticism of our healthcare delivery system, from within the country and without. I agree with some of it. It is: inefficient, expensive, hard to access for the poor and rural, and prescription drugs are outrageously priced…for our citizens. While I want to share a personal perspective, I cannot ignore that last criticism. Of the reasons for the high prices, the top five are: 1. The U.S. government doesn’t regulate prices like other governments do; 2. Our patent protection lasts longer than in other countries; 3. Limited competition due to fewer generics, mainly because of long backlogs for approval of generics (and many companies have stopped making generic drugs that became unprofitable); 4. Rising cost of research and development, much of which is attributable to the rigorous process of FDA approval; 5. Drugs that have a very small demand, for rare conditions, can cost as much to develop initially as popular drugs. Do you notice a pattern? Most of the cost issues are due to government factors, but take a closer look at #2, #3 and #4. We provide longer patents, we have long backlogs for approving generics, and it costs more to develop meds here. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies here have a harder time recovering research and development costs than in other countries, yet American companies still develop the most drugs. A study in the American Journal of Public Health stated that the 43.7% of new molecular entities (NME), that’s brand new drugs, between 1992 and 2004 were developed in the United States; the next most were in Britain, which developed about 10%. The bottom line is that we, citizens of the United States, help subsidize the cost of new medications for the rest of the world!
Undoubtedly, government subsidized and controlled healthcare–Medicare and Medicaid here, universal healthcare like in Canada and Western Europe, Australia, Japan–are a really good deal for those who qualify. However, we are talking about justice, so rather than brag about how nice it is to have your healthcare paid for (with other people’s money, which is the part you don’t brag about) let’s consider who is expected, involuntarily, to pay. In countries with socialized (governmental) universal healthcare, the payment mechanisms are: 1. High taxation; 2. Rationing of services; 3. Controlled salaries of professionals; 4. Controlled or monopoly-power negotiated pricing of drugs, and presumably medical devices as well; 5. Restricted access to alternative treatments and other systems. I put the last one in italics, because it is particularly unjust and ugly. Let’s take the UK’s National Health Service, NHS, as an example. They have written guidelines for seeking treatment outside of their jurisdiction but within the European Economic Area, EEA. However, if you want to go to the U.S., where most treatment alternatives exist, those written guidelines don’t apply, rather every case has to be submitted to a local Clinical Commissioning Group, CCG. We saw what happened a few months ago when the parents of a baby who might have been saved by a treatment available only in the United States, and who raised the money to pay for it, were denied the right to try to save their child’s life by their CCG because “it wouldn’t have worked.” How do they know? What’s it to them anyway? If the baby had been saved, wouldn’t that be bad PR for the NHS? Call me cynical, but allow me to decide. How did they prevent the parents from taking him to the States? They restrained the parents from being alone with him and refused discharge from the hospital, thus consigning him to death. Sounds a lot like involuntary assisted suicide, a polite way to say passive murder.
Back to our central theme of justice. Healthcare payment systems that are unjust (I will summarize at the end how I define “just”) have the following: 1. People are getting their benefits paid for by mechanisms that sever prices from the cost of delivery and development. But someone has to pay the true cost of developing drugs and devices, treatments, salaries, etc. That means plenty of someones have to pay WAY more for their benefits. 2. Controlled salaries force professional compensation downward without allowing physicians to market their services freely. This is one reason for the rise in “concierge medicine”, both here and in Europe. 3. While the healthier population subsidizing the unhealthier and the younger subsidizing the older is nothing new nor inherently unjust–after all, healthy and young are temporary blessings–it becomes unjust when no one has a choice how much they are willing to pay to subsidize someone else. When everyone is being taxed to provide healthcare in addition to all the other things government uses money for, no one has a clue how much they are paying to subsidize the health of others, nor does anyone know how much it is costing to provide them with services. At least under our system, the subsidizers–small business owners, their employees, self employed, the wealthy–can choose their health insurance plan, premium and benefits, BUT….4. This is a BIG but (don’t get excited, there’s only one T). The subsidizer can choose, but what if the choices themselves were artificially restricted and prices increased by the way the subsidized used the benefits? See my next blog post, Subsidized healthcare part two. There are some valid justifications for “single payer” (government) healthcare, and I will cover those in blog post part three.
Bear with me, I have come to the heart of my anger about the injustice of subsidized healthcare. The United States enacted the ACA, Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare”, in 2010, and all health insurance policies sold in the country had to be ACA compliant by the end of 2014. I was 64 in 2010, and paying $173/month for family health insurance, which included me, my wife and children. Just before becoming eligible for Medicare, I had to renew our insurance under an ACA-compliant policy. Our former policy was terminated, four years before the act required it, because insurance companies knew their costs were going way up (they would have to cover more conditions and waive many preexisting conditions). The replacement policy cost $263/month and covered a fraction of what the previous policy covered at a 60% lower cost! That’s what being a subsidizer looks like. Sure, I’m on Medicare now, and that’s obviously subsidized, but at least I’ve contributed “future premiums” for 50 years via Medicare taxes.
To summarize, here’s what I consider just healthcare, though unfortunately it isn’t likely to happen: 1. The cost of everything–prescription drugs, medical devices, hospital, imaging and physician charges–are fully transparent. 2. The user of the service or product can shop and choose insurance plans, physicians, hospitals, and knows in advance how much their out of pocket cost will be after insurance or subsidy. 3. Hospitals are required to disclose all prices, and for surgery, diagnostic procedures and medications are elective or discretionary, the patient is provided impartial counseling about their pricing and alternatives. 4. Since youth and health are temporary conditions, and the cost of healthcare by its nature has to be spread out over a population and over time, and the young and the healthy will always have to subsidize part of the total cost, the actual cost of their “subsidy” can be approximated, and “credited” to their Medicare account, to perhaps reduce future out of pocket costs.
The last idea here sounds radical, but insurance actuaries do those kind of calculations to set premiums by age and usage, for individuals and groups. It’s possible, feasible and inherently just, but not likely because the only constituency it benefits is individuals. If there was enough patience, intelligence and love for justice in our population to have this debate, who knows what could happen?
“Wicked rulers are the judgment of God on a wicked people, the goal being to urge God’s people to repent and turn again toward Him.” This quote of John Calvin was repeated in a letter to the authorities of China by pastor Wang Yi, who was arrested December 9, 2018, along with his wife and 100 members of his Christian congregation. My previous post was the text of his letter, which is the perfect model of how a true Christian responds to real unjust persecution. I decided that sentence is worth a blog post of it’s own and is applicable to our country as well. As you read this, you probably have someone in mind for the appellation “wicked ruler”. But President Trump is not the only ruler in our system, and most of the evil we have allowed to flourish in our land predates his administration, though his personal behavior still qualifies. Other qualifiers could be Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Maxine Waters, the judges of the 9th circuit court in San Francisco…..it’s my blog, so I get to choose the wicked rulers. It isn’t just civil rulers either. I would include church officials and pastors who have supported or failed to speak out against wickedness, and fathers who have abandoned their families.
What do I classify as wickedness? Actions and laws which violate: the sanctity of human life, the clear evidence of God’s design for human sexual relations and gender expression, private property rights, the parent-child bond and the authority of parents to raise their children to love God. Examples of acts which violate those principles include: abortion, adultery, homosexual sex, transsexual surgery, eminent domain, government redistribution via tax and zoning policies, CPS seizure of children without credible evidence of abuse, government penalization of home schooling. That’s certainly a wide net, isn’t it? Why do I call these practices wicked? As diverse as they appear, all are a violation of God’s design: for family government, for the sanctity of life, for sexuality, and for the limits of civil authority.
Speaking of which, here’s an item from from NBC News: Last week, the West Point School Board in Virginia voted unanimously to fire Vlaming. They said that the teacher was insubordinate. How? A female student “transitioned” (changed of outward appearance) to male and demanded the use of male pronouns. It’s not suggested that the 47-year-old West Point High School French teacher deliberately referred to the student using female pronouns in the student’s presence, but in conversations with others. Witnesses described a “slip-up” when the student was about to run into a wall and Vlaming told others to stop “her.” During a discussion with administrators, Vlaming told superiors that his Christian faith prevented him from using male pronouns for the student (he had the student in class the year before when she identified as female). Vlaming’s attorney, Shawn Voyles, says his client offered to use the student’s name and to avoid feminine pronouns, but Voyles says the school was unwilling to accept the compromise.
“Vlaming’s discrimination leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that,” said West Point schools Superintendent Laura Abel. “They felt disrespected.” Nondiscrimination policies were updated a year ago to include protections for gender identity, but didn’t include guidance on gender pronoun use. Voyles notes Vlaming has constitutional rights. “One of those rights that is not curtailed is to be free from being compelled to speak something that violates your conscience,” Voyles said. Peter Vlaming said he loves and respects all his students but when a solution he tried to reach based on “mutual tolerance” was rejected, he was at risk of losing his job for having views held by “most of the world for most of human history.”“That is not tolerance,” Vlaming said. “That is coercion.” Note to Mr. Vlaming: “Mutual tolerance” doesn’t exist for militants, be they Islamic or Transgender.
After the end of World War II, many Americans have feared a takeover by a totalitarian regime. We worried about Russian tanks rolling down our streets. School children were drilled to hide under their desks in the event of an air raid. Even in the 1980’s, many popular movies such as Red Dawn featured the theme of invasion. As it turns out, the totalitarian regime never needed tanks and air raids. Instead, they marched in under the guise of tolerance and compassion. But, what is often labeled as tolerance by the commanding officers in the Sexual Revolution Army is actually coercion. Equality Virginia, an LGBTQ-rights group, said the situation reveals the need for “statewide guidance” that will protect all students from discrimination at school. Sure, they will stop at “statewide”. I say they want a complete journey from tolerance (years back) to acceptance (the present) to acquiescence (to their whole agenda) to applause. Wickedness knows no stopping point.
The communist regime of China has arrested about 100 Chinese Christians. Among those arrested was Pastor Wang Yi. Realizing that the Chinese government was going to soon be going after his church, Pastor Yi wrote a letter in September explaining why he disobeys the rulers God has placed over him. He instructed members of his church to release the letter if he was detained for more than 48 hours. I will not water down anything in this precious message by adding comments to it. We privileged people of the United States bandy about such words as “oppression”, “persecution” and other victim claiming figures of speech, while never having experienced a real example from their ruling authorities. In China, it’s different. It’s real oppression. Jail, beatings, starvation, more beatings. When he says “I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty”, he is ready for beatings to force confession. Read and take it to heart.
“On the basis of the teachings of the Bible and the mission of the gospel, I respect the authorities God has established in China. For God deposes kings and raises up kings. This is why I submit to the historical and institutional arrangements of God in China.
“As a pastor of a Christian church, I have my own understanding and views, based on the Bible, about what righteous order and good government is. At the same time, I am filled with anger and disgust at the persecution of the church by this Communist regime, at the wickedness of their depriving people of the freedoms of religion and of conscience. But changing social and political institutions is not the mission I have been called to, and it is not the goal for which God has given his people the gospel.
“For all hideous realities, unrighteous politics, and arbitrary laws manifest the cross of Jesus Christ, the only means by which every Chinese person must be saved. They also manifest the fact that true hope and a perfect society will never be found in the transformation of any earthly institution or culture but only in our sins being freely forgiven by Christ and in the hope of eternal life.
“As a pastor, my firm belief in the gospel, my teaching, and my rebuking of all evil proceeds from Christ’s command in the gospel and from the unfathomable love of that glorious King. Every man’s life is extremely short, and God fervently commands the church to lead and call any man to repentance who is willing to repent. Christ is eager and willing to forgive all who turn from their sins. This is the goal of all the efforts of the church in China—to testify to the world about our Christ, to testify to the Middle Kingdom about the Kingdom of Heaven, to testify to earthly, momentary lives about heavenly, eternal life. This is also the pastoral calling that I have received.
“For this reason, I accept and respect the fact that this Communist regime has been allowed by God to rule temporarily. As the Lord’s servant John Calvin said, wicked rulers are the judgment of God on a wicked people, the goal being to urge God’s people to repent and turn again toward Him. For this reason, I am joyfully willing to submit myself to their enforcement of the law as though submitting to the discipline and training of the Lord.
“At the same time, I believe that this Communist regime’s persecution against the church is a greatly wicked, unlawful action. As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely. The calling that I have received requires me to use non-violent methods to disobey those human laws that disobey the Bible and God. My Savior Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws.
“But this does not mean that my personal disobedience and the disobedience of the church is in any sense “fighting for rights” or political activism in the form of civil disobedience, because I do not have the intention of changing any institutions or laws of China. As a pastor, the only thing I care about is the disruption of man’s sinful nature by this faithful disobedience and the testimony it bears for the cross of Christ.
“As a pastor, my disobedience is one part of the gospel commission. Christ’s great commission requires of us great disobedience. The goal of disobedience is not to change the world but to testify about another world. For the mission of the church is only to be the church and not to become a part of any secular institution. From a negative perspective, the church must separate itself from the world and keep itself from being institutionalized by the world. From a positive perspective, all acts of the church are attempts to prove to the world the real existence of another world. The Bible teaches us that, in all matters relating to the gospel and human conscience, we must obey God and not men. For this reason, spiritual disobedience and bodily suffering are both ways we testify to another eternal world and to another glorious King.
“This is why I am not interested in changing any political or legal institutions in China. I’m not even interested in the question of when the Communist regime’s policies persecuting the church will change. Regardless of which regime I live under now or in the future, as long as the secular government continues to persecute the church, violating human consciences that belong to God alone, I will continue my faithful disobedience. For the entire commission God has given me is to let more Chinese people know through my actions that the hope of humanity and society is only in the redemption of Christ, in the supernatural, gracious sovereignty of God.
“If God decides to use the persecution of this Communist regime against the church to help more Chinese people to despair of their futures, to lead them through a wilderness of spiritual disillusionment and through this to make them know Jesus, if through this he continues disciplining and building up his church, then I am joyfully willing to submit to God’s plans, for his plans are always benevolent and good.
“Precisely because none of my words and actions are directed toward seeking and hoping for societal and political transformation, I have no fear of any social or political power. For the Bible teaches us that God establishes governmental authorities in order to terrorize evildoers, not to terrorize doers of good. If believers in Jesus do no wrong then they should not be afraid of dark powers. Even though I am often weak, I firmly believe this is the promise of the gospel. It is what I’ve devoted all of my energy to. It is the good news that I am spreading throughout Chinese society.
“I also understand that this happens to be the very reason why the Communist regime is filled with fear at a church that is no longer afraid of it. If I am imprisoned for a long or short period of time, if I can help reduce the authorities’ fear of my faith and of my Savior, I am very joyfully willing to help them in this way. But I know that only when I renounce all the wickedness of this persecution against the church and use peaceful means to disobey, will I truly be able to help the souls of the authorities and law enforcement. I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.
“Regardless of what crime the government charges me with, whatever filth they fling at me, as long as this charge is related to my faith, my writings, my comments, and my teachings, it is merely a lie and temptation of demons. I categorically deny it. I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.
“Moreover, I must point out that persecution against the Lord’s church and against all Chinese people who believe in Jesus Christ is the most wicked and the most horrendous evil of Chinese society. This is not only a sin against Christians. It is also a sin against all non-Christians. For the government is brutally and ruthlessly threatening them and hindering them from coming to Jesus. There is no greater wickedness in the world than this.
“If this regime is one day overthrown by God, it will be for no other reason than God’s righteous punishment and revenge for this evil. For on earth, there has only ever been a thousand-year church. There has never been a thousand-year government. There is only eternal faith. There is no eternal power.
“Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ. When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me. Pray that the Lord would use me, that he would grant me patience and wisdom, that I might take the gospel to them.
“Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life; and no one can raise me from the dead.
“And so, respectable officers, stop committing evil. This is not for my benefit but rather for yours and your children’s. I plead earnestly with you to stay your hands, for why should you be willing to pay the price of eternal damnation in hell for the sake of a lowly sinner such as I?
“Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever. I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God, and I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws.”
The Lord’s servant,
“Over 100 members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China, were arrested beginning Sunday, December 9,” China Partnership wrote. “At the time of publication of this translation, arrests are still being made. Among those taken away were Pastor Wang Yi, senior pastor of Early Rain, and his wife, Jiang Rong, who have not been heard from since Sunday.”