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Volume 19, Issue 1: Meander

Don't Shoot the Mule Cause the Pony Won't Run

Douglas Wilson

Always Bright and Shiny
We wrestle not against flesh and blood, St. Paul tells us, but rather against principalities and powers. These principalities have an embodiment and manifestation in the worldly power structures that surround us, and it is therefore a central responsibility of ours to assemble in worship of the triune God. This is because worship of Almighty God is not rightly understood unless and until it is understood as a prophetic challenge to all such political power structures.

To this point, the American empire is the most powerful empire the world has ever known—whether economic, military, or cultural. We the Church are the kingdom of Christ in the midst of all this and, while we may be grateful for aspects of the US, we must not be seduced by it.
If the men who run this state of affairs will not submit themselves to the Word of the only true God, they will certainly not be restrained by anything so ephemeral as the "will of the people," or "common decency," or "shared values." It is either Christ or increasing wickedness. That wickedness might be bright and shiny, but idolatrous paganism is always bright and shiny.
By the worship of God in Christ, we are proclaiming to the world that they must come to Him for salvation. They may not come to Him to use Him just to attract "values voters" in the upcoming election. They must kiss the Son, lest He be angry. This is quite distinct from saying "my faith is very important to me on a personal level."
All such dichotomies that most North American Christians accept (and even help promote) are accommodations with political idolatry. But idolatry is always costly. If the men who rule us will not submit to Christ, they will certainly not submit to anything and anyone else. And we will not be able to feign astonishment when the fruits of their wickedness are finally made manifest.

Said Elsewhere
"Young people today are desperately trying to vandalize the image of God that they carry about, despite themselves, in their bodies. God gave long hair to women as a glory and a covering—showing that the Lord is near—and yet bewildered, unprotected, and lost women now cut their hair with hedge clippers and dye it bizarre colors . . . modern evangelical Christians, who have an eagle eye when it comes to imitating anything the world does, are blind to why the world is doing it. Unfortunate souls are trying to develop a cultural form of dress that says, `I am lost and hopelessly damned.' And we have Christians who seriously want to imitate this or allow it into the hallways of Christian schools, saying all the while that we can make it mean something like, `Christians are on the cutting edge too.' But actually it just shows that we are terminally clueless. Imitators of the world's culture from within the church know everything about the world's culture—except what it means" (The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 189).

"Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud" (Prov. 16:19).

Again we have a pointed comparison. It is better to lose profit, and be a humble man with the lowly than to make a huge profit—dividing the spoil—but have to do it together with arrogant men. There are many Christians who are distracted away from the importance of this principle. They don't like spending all their time with the arrogant, with corporate raiders, with high flyers, with "realists." Like Lot in Sodom, they don't like what they see (or smell), but they hold their nose and go along anyway. "I'll just make what I need to make, and then I'll get out of this Enronville." "This is just a short term thing." The problem with this is that Scripture tells us what we should prefer to this sort of compromise. It is possible to be present with such men without compromise, like Daniel in Babylon, but this is not usually done by keeping your head down and rationalizing to yourself. All Christians in business should actively and honestly prefer poverty with humble men to riches with the sleek and powerful.

True Good Works
If we are to be truly free, we must be bound to the laws and words of God. This is because the only alternative to submission to Christ is submission to Christless men. We must therefore refuse to define good works according to the wisdom of man. These things can indeed have an appearance of wisdom, but are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh. The wit of autonomous man does not have the strength to devise a good work.

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