The powers of the world seek to twist God’s Word to their own purposes and persecute those who view the Bible as saying what it means and meaning what it says.
God’s Word declares that God is knowable, and knowing Him is the privilege set before us.1 In previous articles in Personal Update we discussed how the physical world reflects the Bible and how precise analysis of the Bible (e.g. rightly dividing the Word of truth2) can lead to precise scientific examination of the physical world, both of which bear fruit.
While honest science, operating alone, cannot arrive at God, it does indeed point directly to Him. The Bible operates in a similar way. This is why the powers of the world seek to twist both to their own purposes, and to persecute those who view the Bible as saying what it means and meaning what it says.
Obstructing the Word
In centuries prior to the 1500s, the Bible text was largely unavailable to the common people of the West. Typically recorded in Latin, a language not many could read, few copies were available. This gave the clergy and secular rulers a near monopoly on interpretation of the Word.
That this was not merely an accident, nor simply the result of low literacy rates and limited printing technology, is demonstrated by the treatment of those who dared to translate the Bible into the common languages and/or distribute it. Many were persecuted or killed by agents of church and state alike. Starting in the 1300s, then through the 1400s and 1500s, those who translated or distributed Bibles on pain of death did so because they took the Bible seriously.
Their actions put The Word in the hands of the people, and were thereby a key element in what the late cultural historian, Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor and winner of the American Medal of Freedom, Jacques Barzun put this way:
The Modern Era begins, characteristically, with a revolution. It is commonly called the Protestant Reformation…3
In the 1600s, the Pilgrims, seeking to spread the Gospel and to escape persecution by church and state in England, carried this reformation with them to the New World. This helped fuel the movements for the republican forms of enterprise, government and freedom of the 1700s and 1800s that built the successful West and have until recently been the model for the world.
Key founders of modern science from the 1500s onwards applied the principles of the knowability and consistency of God and the physical universe that are presented in the Bible. They opened new frontiers of knowledge, technology and material progress. Like those who took God’s Word seriously and translated and distributed Bibles, they too were subject to persecution and often for the same reasons the Bible-givers were: the knowledge they were obtaining and sharing threatened the monopoly wielded by church and secular rulers, and people who follow God will take risks that others won’t.
The Protestant Reformation and the resultant Modern Era (1500 to the present) in the West, including modern science and the institutions of private property, rule of law, representative government, separation of government powers, and individual freedom, are built on the foundation of taking the Bible seriously. This reveals the end game of many interests which seek to discourage rigorous study and application of the Scripture.
Discouraging The Word
Information technology and widespread global communications networks have, for now, made direct obstruction of Bible possession and distribution infeasible except by the most vigorous of police states. One of the strategies being employed instead is to discourage believers from careful study of The Word and to redirect their energies into approved humanitarian works purposes, which often come with government’s tacit or explicit partnership.
There is a fast-growing church movement in America today that is called by some “the Emerging Church.” This movement emphasizes sensory experience. Repentance and sin are deemphasized, undefined “love” of all is held high and humanitarian works are brought to the fore. Sinners are no longer the “unsaved” but merely the “unchurched,” as if the church itself has the power to redeem. Church growth is pursued through secular marketing strategies and demographic targeting, not the invitation of the Holy Spirit.
Here, the church is no longer to be a training ground in the Scripture for disciples of the Gospel, but primarily a means for meeting “felt needs” and an organizing hub for social causes. The end times and the bigger spiritual war are largely set aside. Careful, rational analysis and application of the Bible are deemphasized. The Scripture is often used in a fast and loose manner to encourage obedience to earthly purposes.
Twisting The Word
In the Emerging Church movement, and in the contemporary American church that is seeker-friendly and heavy on grace, the truth of God’s law, His righteousness and His judgment are tamped down or set aside. This has the effect not of truly presenting God’s grace but of undermining it. When we sinners do not understand that our sins are vile, venal and completely unacceptable in any form, that our sins are fully requiring of judgment, and that we have essentially no power on our own to stop sinning, Christ’s atonement by blood and His supernatural power to lift us from the miry clay are made of little consequence and the Gospel becomes not a lifesaver but an encourager for earthly purposes. By using proffered grace to steer the congregant’s works, this movement leads the sinner not towards true salvation and the boldness of a lion that is the fruit thereof, but away from it to passive inaction or co-option by the world.
Denying judgment also allows grace to be used to excuse sin. In a now famously egregious example from 2008 of false doctrine justifying political expediency, then Presidential candidate Barack Obama dismissed as being an “obscure” passage of the Bible the doctrine of Romans 1, which clearly condemns homosexuality. He did so to justify his support for the homosexual lobby. But there are other, bigger incentives to twist Romans.
In his 2009 inaugural address, President Obama vowed to “restore science to its rightful place.” This meant, in part, removing moral restraints on human stem cell research, re-emphasizing environmental protection over human needs, and expanding scientists’ influence over government policy. With most leadership in scientific academia and government being evolutionist, this meant expanding the policy influence of evolutionary theory. Romans 1 says creature worship (and evolutionary theory is nothing if not creature-worship) is condemned. Furthermore, creature worship is itself an apparent precursor to homosexuality. Minimizing Romans 1 reduces this Scriptural obstacle to those who seek to govern based on man’s law not God’s law.
There’s more. The book of Romans as a whole is a precisely constructed foundation of Christian theology in general and of the Protestant Reformation in particular, that same Reformation which launched the Modern Era and made the West the shining city on a hill. And, right next to those passages which condemn homosexuality and creature-worship, set as a contraposition to these grievous sins, is the very watchword of the Reformation, that verse which made Martin Luther feel in or about 1515 as if the gates of Paradise had been flung open:4
…the just shall live by faith.
— Romans 1:17
It is this same Reformation that declares that the requirement in Romans 13 for Christians to submit to civil authority applies only so long as the rulers govern according to God’s law. If one is bent on taking over the institutions of the West, subverting the Reformation will be required. Twisting the book of Romans is a powerful place to start.
End Game Is Beginning
Studying the trends reveals the magnitude of the situation at hand. What we are seeing develop in America today is eerily similar to that of Europe as it burned the Bible publishers and drove out the Pilgrims. The old forces are back on the field, this time with new allies in secular science and socialism.
The long-enjoyed hiatus of balance between true faith and limited government in America is over. Believers who take the Bible seriously and study it with precision should expect that, like times past, established church and government interests, even military force, will indeed come against us.
However, this time there is no New World to run to. And why should we flee? A close examination of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John reveals the work of the Master Strategist, victorious in the face of overwhelming earthly odds. There are Bibles everywhere. Let’s take one and study at His feet.
Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
— Matthew 10:34