Volume 11, Issue 5: Magistralis
Our Baptist Betters
On this fallen little globe of ours, there are three God-established realms of government: familial, ecclesiastical, and civil, which is to say, Mom and Dad, Pope Boniface (VIII), and Prince John. These three authorities are designed to work together, each for the good of the other. Of course they usually don’t. Instead of a lovely garden nation running smoothly with the grace commonly attributed to the gazelle—each government slapping the other on the back and telling it how proud they are of the job it’s doing, and the complimented party saying something along the lines of “Likewise!” or “Couldn’t dream of doing it without you!”—we find ourselves in the midst of a rather nasty altercation, similar in nature and tone to three male gerbils discussing whose turn it is to devour the young. These discussions are, for the most part, concluded, and the civil government gerbil has come out on top. How he did so is a long and sordid tale, and we will not get into it here. We will, however, get into what the other rodents are currently trying to do about it.
We begin with the clerical collars and Geneva gowns. Of course when discussing the modern church in all the splendor of its multiple personalities, it would seem difficult to make blanket statements regarding her relationship with the resistance. Luckily, pretty much every part of the church falls into one of three categories. The first is that of carrion—the fallen, the demised, the KIA. Given the nature of the case, not much needs to be said.
The remaining two categories are composed of those who are (somehow) fighting the heathen and his minions and those who, like brave Sir Robin, have courageously turned their tail and fled. Consider two of the larger examples—the Reformed movement in general, and for the evangelicals, the Baptists (primarily of the Southern variety). These two groups have more in common than the casual observer might think. In particular they are both losing. The question which distinguishes them is why?
The Southern Baptists are losing because they are no match for the opposing gerbil’s strategists. But they are facing the enemy, and what is more, they sometimes actually go on the offensive. Imagine! Of course before we open the champagne, we must realize that their spies misinformed them. They have only attacked Disneyland, and this is not the secret headquarters they had been told. They fight in the political arena, instead of against the political arena, and lose time and time again. But at least they look the enemy in the eyes and shoot at him, even if it is only a spitwad. And in this, they stand a head taller than our Reformed churches.
The main reason the Reformed church has escaped slaughter thus far is that it has never stopped running since the fighting started. It is nothing but a reformational refugee camp. And a smaller conservative manifestation of this same retreatism is the recent reaction which has been referred to in these pages and elsewhere as “neo-amish.” This strategy consists of a few simple moves and is a retreat from the protection of the church into the inner recesses of the family—which is to say, Mom’s apron. In this military move we must first all run home. This means kids, parents, goats, etc. Second, we must make our own soap, milk our own chickens, and eat our own grass. Third, we reproduce like the rabbits we are. In other words, we boycott the world.
The Baptists are at least boycotting something in the enemy camp, which if not strategic, is admittedly feasible. We are trying to boycott reality, so as to avoid the fight altogether. Among others the word, “Gnostic” comes to mind. One would expect that with all this running, the Reformed would be quite a fit specimen (strong muscle tone, rosy cheeks, pores open, etc.); this is not the case. In actuality the enemy, when afforded the opportunity to shoot at a nice flat back moving ponderously in the other direction, did so, and brought its target down. The internal neo-amish kick is a continuation of the self defeatist strategy the Reformed have employed all along. The difference is it runs farther and faster. The only thing that could save the Reformed now would be a complete shift in orientation. If we were to cease facing the foe with our rump and fight for the first time in our lives, we might discover that our frontside is equipped for war, and if you want to bet on that happening, five will get you fifty.
We are in a culture war. Our government is currently in the hands of the wicked and is being used very effectively against us. The wicked straddle like Apollyon across the way, and we merely wimper. Our Baptist brothers, less equipped than we, poke Apollyon in the eye with a stick. It does not kill him, not by a ways. But if it were not for their courage, the wicked enthroned would not even know there was a fight on at all. What have the Reformed done? What danger have we faced?
We are beginning to train our own children. We have brought our own offspring home and begotten many more. “We’re in a battle!” we say. “A full quiver is just what we need!” But there is nothing more damning than a full quiver in the middle of battle. What good is an arrow if it has not flown? What good is a son if he does not draw blood?
Let the Reformed watch Saving Private Ryan and see themselves. We sit, wrapped in ammunition, gun in hand, quivering in cowardice on the stairs, listening to the death of our unarmed brother above. It is an apt image. We are not yet a real threat.