Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Flags, Fury, and Fundamentals

History (and theology) has been a lifelong study of mine, as readers of my blog know. I have weighed in from time to time on matters related to the Civil War, racism, etc. Since the Confederate battle flag controversy has begun raging again, I might as well offer some comment, but with a different twist. 

Not long ago, I said elsewhere online that it's a difficult issue for me with my Southern roots. While the cultural climate right now declares that the flag is nothing more than a racist symbol, that is not quite accurate and the issue is far more nuanced. People still argue today over the causes of the Civil War. To be sure, a few nut jobs out there and racist groups have taken this symbol and use it to push their ugly, hateful ideology. But most Southern people do not see the flag in that light. I do not agree at all with FORCED removal of the flag. But as a Christian who sees the cause of Christ as my only reason for being, I am willing to give it up for the sake of love. Many blacks today see it in a racist light and it's painful to them. I understand that. Given the dynamics of a leftist educational establishment that marches in lockstep with the media and church leaders who are more liberal political activists than they are pastors, you'd be fighting a very uphill battle in trying to give a more balanced view of both the flag and the Civil War. 

And let's be clear. You cannot credibly deny that slavery and racism were involved in the Civil War, and racist attitudes persisted for years after it was over. I find it ironic that the Democrats use this as an issue to bash Republicans, but Southern Democrats were the ones who created this flag and wanted to maintain the institution of slavery. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Many early black leaders were Republicans. It took Republican support to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The political dynamic changed over the years, and quite a few of these Southern Democrats migrated over to the Republican Party. But it's disingenuous for Democrats to run from their history. 

But that's another subject. Right now in talking of being willing to give up the flag for love's sake, I'm talking about a matter of the heart first, with the Gospel as the paramount driver. Anyone who knows me or heard me on the air knows my feelings about race baiters and gas throwers like Al Sharpton. He has a "Rev" in front of his name but I have never heard the man preach one Gospel sermon. Ever. 

Here's what I used to say on Christian radio a lot - to the fury of some of more politically active Christians who usually misheard what I was saying. While I support Christians being politically involved and making our voices heard, I believe that far more time and money was spent trying to effect societal changes through politics and the ballot box than we spent proclaiming the Gospel, winning people to Christ, and then allowing the Holy Spirit to effect His changes in peoples' hearts, which has direct impact on worldview, morals, values, etc. Remember Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority in the 70s and early 80s? Millions of dollars raised and a few political victories, but in time it was swept away and the nation went further left. In the 80s and early 90s, the Christian Coalition largely took the Moral Majority's place. Millions of dollars were raised and a few political races were won, but in time it was swept away and the country moved farther to the left. Conservatives (theological and political) never gained any control of educational institutions, media networks, film studios, or any of the other things that help move the needle in the culture. 

Worst of all, generations of kids grew up absorbing the impact of a lefty educational system and a society that largely embraced postmodern thought. In the church, we were so consumed with drawing people in through marketing techniques, hot worship bands, stage shows, and a watered-down Gospel. Postmodern theology took its toll, and today we have resurgent antinomianism as a result. Look at the Republican field and see what we have. 20 some odd candidates running, and among them how many will end up being truly constitutionally conservative, and willing to FIGHT for it? How many got elected over the past 35 years with Christian conservative support and money, only to end up caving to the left about every time when it counted. If I'm tired of anything, I'm tired of that more than anything else. I'm tired of being fooled by so-called constitutional conservatives, and I'm tired of the church aping unbelievers to be cool and trendy. If the church gets back to being the church, and gets busy proclaiming an unwatered down Gospel, we just might be surprised at what happens in the culture. Let's do both - speak our minds and vote in elections. But the Gospel is our top priority. At the judgment seat of Christ, we're not going to be asked how much time we spent working for a political candidate or fighting for a temporal political or cultural symbol. We'll get asked what we did for the Kingdom. My time on earth is getting shorter and shorter. I don't want to waste any more time.

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