By Gary North
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).
Christians are ambassadors of reconciliation: primarily, the reconciliation of man to God, and secondarily, the reconciliation of covenant-keeping men to each other. Christians are assigned the task of announcing to the whole world that the gospel of Christ alone offers hope to the world. God is reconciling the world to Himself in history through His Son, Jesus Christ. This is God’s program for healing the nations. No other program, no other faith, no other plan can work. This is the only basis of permanent peace that God offers to men and nations in history.
The church of Jesus Christ has never fully believed this, but especially in the twentieth century. Christians have always proclaimed one or another version of natural law theory as the proper basis of reconciling covenant-breakers to covenant-keepers in history: intellectually, politically, culturally, and internationally. To this extent, their message of God’s reconciliation has been compromised.
The gospel is not designed to reconcile permanent covenant-breakers to God or to covenant keepers. The gospel is intended to create a society that subdues covenant-breakers externally, making them useful to covenant-keepers until the day of eternal wrath begins.1 The gospel is designed to extend the dominion of covenant-keepers as God’s authorized representatives on earth, not to create the basis of a permanent cease-fire agreement between covenant-keepers and covenant-breakers until Jesus comes to judge the world. The gospel is not the manifesto of a stalemate religion.2
Twentieth-century Christians have lost their confidence in the power of Christ’s gospel to transform society. They have lost the vision of international victory that used to motivate Christian missions programs. The vision of the international kingdom of God that captured the minds of evangelists in the early Church (Mark 16:15), continued through the Middle Ages, and even lasted well beyond the Protestant Reformation,1 faded rapidly with the coming of Darwinism.
The growing cultural inferiority complex of Christians combined with the growing cultural superiority complex of Darwinists to create a perverse coalition against consistent, world-transforming Christianity, which preaches the existence of progressive earthly manifestations of the kingdom of God in history, in every area of life.
Christians have lost a vision of earthly victory. They have no vision of a world progressively transformed by the gospel, or nations brought under Christ’s covenant, one by one, or the Church of Jesus Christ speaking with one voice, as it did in Acts 15, or a confederation of Christian nations welcoming newly converted nations into the commonwealth of redeemed mankind.
They have no confidence in the Bible as a reliable intellectual weapon against the self-certified humanists who occupy the seats of influence and power in every nation. They view their earthly labors as historically futile, to be swallowed inevitably by the triumph of anti-Christian forces throughout the world. They are afraid even to announce the covenant of Christ as morally binding on their own nations, let alone on the whole world.
They have become confused by the inescapable choices that God’s providential history imposes on them. They have accepted the humanists’ lie that Jesus Christ has no legitimate authority over the civil affairs of men, or none that men can ever perceive in history.
The Yoke of Fear
The West has long believed that freedom, peace, and prosperity are available on a permanent basis completely apart from the God who establishes the ethical foundations of freedom, peace, and prosperity. Christians have also defended this view for a century by continued reliance on natural law theories and the humanist doctrine of permanent political pluralism.
The West has believed that evolution has overwhelmed every system of permanent ethics, so that no one can speak in the name of God’s permanent principles. The Communists believed the same thing, but because they officially replaced the West’s fading faith in God with Marxism-Leninism, they were able to delay the loss of faith longer. Solzhenitsyn and other Russian critics insist that this Marxist faith is now dead behind the Iron Curtain, but it still is alive inside Third World revolutionary movements and in many Western college classrooms.
The West has lost its faith in progress. The Soviets have lost their faith in Marxism. What keeps the Soviets on the offensive? The quest for power. They still believe in the power religion, even if they have lost faith in the details of Marxism-Leninism. In contrast, the West is in the process of adopting the escape religion.
Solzhenitsyn has sounded the warning, but no one in Washington’s highest circles has heeded it: “This is very dangerous for one’s view of the world when this feeling comes on: ‘Go ahead, give it up.’ We already hear voices in your country and in the West – ‘Give up Korea and we will live quietly. Give up Portugal, of course; give up Japan, give up Israel, give up Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, give up 10 more African countries. Just let us live in peace and quiet. Just let us drive our big cars on our splendid highways; just let us play tennis and golf, in peace and quiet; just let us mix our cocktails in peace and quiet as we are accustomed to doing; just let us see the beautiful toothy smile with a glass in hand on every advertisement page of our magazines.’ “2
This is the mentality of slaves. It is God’s curse on covenantally rebellious people to allow them to become enslaved. This was God’s message to Israel and Judah: “Disobey Me, and I will send Assyria and Babylonia to enslave you.” If Christians want deliverance, it can come only through a new form of servitude: service to God. It must come from leaders who stand fearless before men because they are fearful of God.
We no longer have such leaders, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn knows: “Long years of appeasement have invariably entailed the surrender of the West’s positions and the bolstering of its adversary. Today we can assess on a global scale the achievement of the West’s leading diplomats after 35 years of concerted effort: they have succeeded in strengthening the U.S.S.R. and Communist China in so many ways that only the ideological rift between those two regimes (for which the West can take no credit) still preserves the Western world from disaster. In other words, the survival of the West already depends on factors which are effectively beyond its control.3
The Israelites in the wilderness feared death more than they loved the idea of winning the promised land. What did God give them? Death in the wilderness. If we fear the wrath of men more than God, then God will deliver us into the hands of fearfully wrathful men. We must heed the warning of Jesus: “And do not fear them who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
The Rockefeller Panel on foreign policy correctly assessed what the West needs to survive: “Tenacity of purpose as well as capacity for sacrifice, sustained over a long period, will be needed to meet the present challenge.4 Unfortunately for the deal-doing humanists, the West has run out of both: tenacity of purpose and capacity for sacrifice.
The Silent Christian Majority
The Christians of the West have remained silent, generally unaware of what is going on in international relations, unconcerned about it, and unwilling to present the claims of Christ on foreign policy, trade policy, and civil government in general. Christians have been watchmen on the walls who have not recognized that the enemy long ago infiltrated and bought off the leadership of the once-faithful nation, nor do they know what to do, now that the enemy’s main army is nearing the gates of the city. They comfort themselves with an obvious illusion: that the morally defeated humanist leaders within the gates know what to do, despite three generations of failure. Christians have sounded no warning for three generations; they have forgotten how to blow the trumpet.
The blood of this civilization is presently on the hands of Christians, who have been too timid, and too unsure of themselves, to propose any alternatives to humanist foreign policy in the name of Christ and in terms of the Bible. God set them on the towers as His representatives to a fallen world, and they have remained silent.
They have thought it only natural that humanists should control every aspect of foreign policy, and that the nation-state should constitute the heart, mind, and soul of international relations. Now a time of vast international crisis lies ahead – military, economic, political, and biological (AIDS).5 The banking policies of the West assure us all of a coming economic catastrophe. It can be deferred; it cannot be avoided.6
In that day of multiple crises, Christians will not escape unscathed, any more than righteous Hebrews escaped Assyrian and Babylonian captivity. When ungodly men are allowed by the righteous to speak as representatives of a nation (point two of the biblical covenant model), then that nation will eventually experience judgment. There is a cause-and-effect relationship in history between covenantal standards and covenantal judgments.
Christians have defaulted on their responsibilities. They have assumed that covenant-breaking humanists can and should speak for them. They have not cared to see God’s covenant publicly affirmed nationally. Thus, the 20th century has been the most bloody century since the Noachic Flood.7 It has become the age of totalitarianism, bureaucracy, and massive international tyranny, all in the name of (principle of representation) humanism’s false god, the sovereign autonomous people.
The result will be default by the ruling pagans on their responsibilities to the West, the default of Western civil governments on their economic promises to the voters, the default of the commercial banks, and the default of private pension plans. The 20th century has been a century of moral and religious default, and sometime during the lifetimes of most of those who read this book in the 1980s, there will be a default by humanist institutions on a scale unimaginable today.
These looming crises offer hope for Christian reconstruction of a humanist civilization that is on its deathbed. But if Christians default once again, refusing to sacrifice their lives and fortunes for the crown rights of King Jesus in every area of life, then a new dark age of tyranny is the obvious alternative. There is no neutrality. We face these choices today: the kingdom of God on earth or the kingdom of Satan on earth. We face freedom under Christ or the Communist concentration camp. We face life in the Son or death by nuclear annihilation.
As Elijah asked the representatives of the tribes of Israel: How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him” (I Kings 18:21a).
Let us not be like those pragmatic Israelites, who wanted to see on which alter the fire would fall: “But the people answered him not a word (I Kings 18:21b).
Baal or God, humanism or Christ, the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan: choose this day whom you will serve. The fire will soon fall, and those who choose wrongly could become living sacrifices in history. Do not defer a decision on the assumption that God will rapture you out of all problems. He did not rapture Israel when the Assyrians came, or Judah when the Babylonians came, or the Greeks when the Turks came. Lenin’s spiritual heirs are coming:
“As long as Capitalism and Socialism exist, we cannot live in peace; in the end, one or the other will triumph – a funeral dirge will be sung over the Soviet Republic or over world capitalism.8
The battle between two kingdoms rages, yet Christians in the West pretend that it is somehow all very distant, and all very spiritual, confined to distant lands and invisible worlds where angels battle demons beyond the perceptions of men.
The battle is in fact very close – no farther away than six minutes, as the submarine launched missile flies.
Beating Something With Something Better
Christians possess the Bible and the Holy Spirit. They have the law of God and the power of God at their disposal. They have the doctrine of the covenant in all its God-given authority. Yet they ignore all this, and instead proclaim Jesus as Lord of all the Church, but not of all the earth; Jesus as sovereign Master of the family, but not the civil government; Jesus as the Healer of a remnant but not healer of the nations.
They send out missionaries, but not to baptize nations. They send out pamphlets, but not handbooks for exercising godly rule. They send out physicians of the body and the soul, but not of the body politic. They have turned the world over to the devil by default (and sometimes in the name of New Testament theology), and then have vainly sought to persuade the devil’s power-holding representatives to allow equal time for Jesus. Why should they allow equal time for Jesus? Does Jesus intend to allow equal time for Satan in eternity?
Christians have denied the covenant. They have denied with all their heart, mind, and soul that Jesus intends them to disciple the nations, including their own nations. They have denied the greatness of the Great Commission.9 They understand the consequences of such covenantal failure, but they have hoped in a last-minute rescue by God’s cavalry. They have denied the comprehensive redemption offered at Calvary, and instead hope in a supernatural deliverance in the midst of the international failure of Christianity.
Did God intervene miraculously to bail out Jesus as He walked toward Calvary? Did He intervene to save Stephen from the stones of his adversaries (Acts 7)? No. Then why should He bail out today’s Christians, who show none of Christ’s courage in the face of death, and none of Stephen’s taste for verbal confrontation with the Christ-hating rulers of his day?
If God refused to bail out those who, in the midst of crisis, have preached the Church’s victory in history, why should He bail out those who, in the fatness provided by modern capitalism, preach the Church’s defeat in history? If the Israelites who feared to die in the wilderness all died in the wilderness, and only those two men who were ready to fight from the beginning did survive to enter the land, what can modern Christians expect? A bed of roses? Or lilies on their caskets?
We possess all that is needed to put our enemies to flight. But to do this, we must pick up the spiritual weapons that God has provided. Saul’s armor of natural law theory, permanent political pluralism, the myth of neutrality, and anti-covenantalism will not fit us, and if we try to confront Goliath with such armor as our defense, we will lose our heads.
People who live in God’s house need to throw stones.
1 J.A. De Jong, As the Waters Cover the Sea: Millennial Expectations in the Rise of Anglo-American Missions, 1640-1810 (Kampen, Netherlands: J.H. Kok, 1970).
2 Solzhenitsyn,The Voice of Freedom (Washington, D.C.: AFL-CIO, 1975), p. 12
3 Solzhenitsyn, Foreign Affairs (Spring, 1980), p. 807.
4 Prospect for America,: The Rockefeller Panel Reports (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1961), p. 48.
5 Gary North, The Scourge: AIDS and the Coming Bankruptcy (Ft. Worth, Texas: American Bureau of Economic Research, 1987).
6 Lawrence Malkin, The National Debt (New York: Henry Holt, 1987).
7Gil Eliot, Twentieth Century Book of the Dead (New York: Scribner’s, 1972).
8 Lenin, “Speech to Moscow Party Nuclei Secretaries” (Nov. 26, 1920); cited by Bouscaren, Soviet Foreign Policy: A Pattern of Persistence, p. 11.
9 Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., “The Greatness of the Great Commission,” Journal of Christian Reconstruction, VII (Winter, 1981).