Solomon, Egypt, Democracy, Folly And Liberation Theology
Posted by Job on February 25, 2011
At the time of this writing, for the past several weeks have seen “democracy protests” in the Middle East and in Arab and Muslim nations. They apparently began in Tunisia, have resulted in the demise of at least two governments (Tunisia and Egypt), seem to have Libya at the point of crisis, and show signs of spreading to other nations like Iran, Iraq and Jordan, and have seemed to inspire political demonstrations and rallies in many various places of the world. I haven’t had the spare time required to follow these events with any intensity and detail – whether over the Internet or on TV – as I most certainly would have in years past. Also, I haven’t attempted any detailed speculation to these events “from a Biblical perspective”, especially as it relates to prophecy and eschatology (such as the endtimes, Israel and the coming one world government and religion). So, other than a personal suspicion totally lacking in factual basis than the American intelligence community (CIA et. al.) has had a hand in coordinating and driving this, with regards to specifics I don’t have much to say.
However, in terms of the general issues that these protests raise, I can and will contribute a little bit, primarily about how so many people, including not a few Christians, are absolutely, totally convinced that these protests are a good idea, that the general wishes of the protesters should be respected, and that it has the potential to lead to good, positive changes in the Middle East. This honestly does seem to be the consensus opinion. Further, the primary basis for dissent from the main opinion – that these protests are good and positive – is that these developments are negative only because it may lead to violent anti-western groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian government to step into the leadership vacuum and assert themselves. Based on this, we can presume that even the dissenters would be supportive of this massive movement to overthrow civil governments if the new governments that resulted were more to their personal liking.
So, most people believe that these protests are a positive development, and most of the rest would also if they could be assured a “pro-western” ultimate outcome. And to me, that is absolutely incredible, and not in a good way. It is appalling, shocking, disturbing, frightening, and any number of “bad ings”. That most people apparently do not share this view – or if they share it, they do so for reasons of self interest – shows just how deep the 1960s protest ideology has embedded itself in our modern culture, so deep that it is no longer oft directly challenged even by Christians. And that is evidence of how our modern culture has so thoroughly embraced a humanistic mindset marked by a complete and total rejection of God and a Biblical worldview.
Let it be known that the Bible does not not endorse rebellion or anarchy. Quite the contrary, the Bible refers to those as evil and sinful, and judges the men and ideologies who promote them the same. And if rebellion, anarchy, lawlessness and violence isn’t what happened on the streets of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and what have you, what is? Also, we are told what a “great thing” it is that this protest movement is being led by young people in their 20s and 30s, just as was our own 1960s counterculture. Are we not aware that the Bible says that the young should be instructed, trained and led by elders who are prudent and wise, and that societies where the prideful, vain and presumptuous youths cast off and usurp the place of the older, more tested leaders are those that are going to soon collapse? Didn’t we learn ANYTHING from the turmoil in the Old Testament, such as in the time of the Judges, or in Israel (the Northern Kingdom) when they rebelled against the Davidic monarchy in Judah?
And no, the fact that these people are rebelling against authoritarian regimes in favor of democracy does not make things any better. It must be clearly stated: the Bible at no point advocates democracy. Quite the contrary, when the Bible appears to deal with the general concept, it lends a negative judgment to it, as if it is the product of proud people who reject God’s governance in favor of self-rule. I am reading through the late Merrill Tenney’s “Interpreting Revelation” right now, and the author did note the tendency to desire to rule oneself apart from God’s guidance or law was evident in both Cain’s building a city and in the building of Babylon and the Tower of Babel.
Make no mistake: when the Bible calls civil government “the servant of God” in Romans 13 and instructs us to be render under Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to be subject to and pray for our leaders elsewhere in the New Testament, there was no “so long as the governments in question are democracies” caveat. Quite the contrary, the governments in view – and the only governments that the ancient world that produced the Bible were aware of – were regimes that by our modern western standards would be considered brutal, authoritarian, repressive etc. and begging to be overthrown and replaced with a modern, progressive one with a representative parliament, a constitution guaranteeing individual rights and separation of powers, and of course consenting to the ultimate overlordship of the United Nations.
And consider another angle: the Bible clearly speaks of and declares the absolute monarchy of Jesus Christ over the church (and ultimately creation) with pastors as His representatives and the Bible as His ruling document. What better method of subverting this model than promoting a mindset where individual human free will agency is the highest, most cherished prize, and that anything that would tend to limit this – such as a monarchy – is evil and oppressive? Far better to cast off ideas of “organized religion” in favor of self-styled “spirituality” where each person is his own ultimate authority (imagine no pastors, and no authoritative canon of scripture or interpretation thereof!). Or alternatively, ecclesiastical bodies with elected representatives can sit as judges. Women pastors? Won by majority vote! Homosexual church officers! The majority carries the day! Many paths to heaven? The majority sided with the newer, more inclusive hermeneutics. The inerrancy and authority of scripture? Sorry, that idea didn’t get to 50% among the delegates to the convention!
But let us go back to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and these other places where these brave young democrats are willing to die – and kill – for these new societies, where Twitter and Facebook are apparently changing the world (with the help of . First off, apply this to our own countries in the west … America, France, Canada, Germany, Great Britain etc. Imagine if all of a sudden our own young people took to the streets for a week, a month, a year, or five years and demanded that OUR governments be replaced. Imagine if it were our own high school and college students (helped by the government of Iran or Russia) creating some Facebook page about how we need to get rid of our oppressive, restrictive uncool governments in favor of something proposed by George Clooney and Lady Gaga. And imagine if the other governments of the world – and the United Nations – sided with these kids and told us that we should hand over our own perfectly legitimate and functional governments … or else. Sound like a good idea to you? Of course not. So what on earth makes it a good idea for Egypt or anyplace else? Either the people who are backing this actually WANT the mass confusion (which just may be the case) or we in these last days actually have gotten this far removed from concepts of right and wrong, order and disorder, propriety and impropriety, decency and vulgarity that we now believe that pressuring sovereign nations to hand over control of their governments to a bunch of violent seditious kids somehow represents progress.
And it wouldn’t shock me the least if there wasn’t at least one preacher or pastor out there who would call it just that. And I am not just talking about the liberation theology pastors who believe that overthrowing authoritarian regimes and powerful corporations in order to provide economic, political and social benefits to oppressed populations is the aim of the Bible. Instead, not a few conservative evangelical or fundamentalist Christian pastors would fully support what is happening in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Iran, Iraq etc. so long as the result is a pro-western democracy rather than a sharia law state that sponsors terrorism. That is because so many western Christians have wedded and melded representative democracy, capitalism, individual human rights, and other western ideas into their view of the Bible. Romans 13 and similar? Situational. Open to interpretation. Not the highest or final authority in every society in all times!
In order to try, challenge and prove this “democracy revolution”, we need to go to the streets – or the Twitter pages – and ask these bold revolutionaries what they want. Many will say “We want freedom.” I say “fine, but what is freedom? How will you exercise this freedom? What is it that you want the freedom to do? And the things that you have not been free to do before today, what effect does their absence really have on your life?” How many of these 28 year old men and women that have been willing to face down folks toting guns (or should I say, the legitimate representatives of their legitimate governments!) would be willing to give a satisfactory answer to these questions? I will tell you the answer to: none of them. Why? Because none exists. The reason is that outside of Jesus Christ, no freedom exists. Instead, all there exists is a soul’s bondage to sin, and the soul that sinneth shall die.
OK, so forget about freedom. What else do these MTV generation revolutionaries (assuming that anyone even watches MTV anymore, so I guess I should say “YouTube generation”, and that’s assuming that’s still popular either) care about? They’ll tell you that they want money. Class mobility. The ability to earn money, to earn even more money, to keep and invest it. OK, fine. How much money do you need? $1,000? If I give you $1,000, will you get out of the streets and stop doing your part to allow the United Nations to take over your country? Oh, you want more than that. You want $5,000 and a car. Or maybe $15,000 and a house. Maybe you want $50,000 and a college education. Or $1 million, a yacht, a summer home in Dubai, and VIP status in Las Vegas. Will that make you happy? Truthfully, of course not. Money doesn’t make people happy. You can find more miserable people in an expensive American gated community with million dollar homes than you can in some third world village where everyone is living in tiny mud huts. The reason is that true riches, true wealth, is only through identification with Jesus Christ. Everything else is something that rust can corrupt and thieves can steal. Or something that won’t make a bit of difference to you if you are lying on your deathbed with a few hours to live. I guess in such an instance, a few dollars for drugs to ease the pain in your last moments on earth would have some merit, but we all know that the folks on the streets working to overthrow their governments don’t have that on their minds. Instead, they are convinced that they are going to live forever – or at least a very long time – and want more money to do it with, thinking that it will make them happier with their lot if they do. The prosperity doctrine according to Middle Eastern street revolutionaries. Well, the true gospel of Jesus Christ says that godliness and contentment are great gain.
Or what about the principle of the matter? What about simply wanting a better, more honest, more open system of government? What about justice, fairness and truth? To the revolutionary allow me to ask you the same question that Pilate asked Jesus Christ: “What is truth?” What piece of knowledge or system of knowledge is there that will satisfy you? Will make you truly happy? Will answer all your questions? Will meet all your needs? The answer is simple: outside of Jesus Christ, there is none. All else is an inadequate partial truth at best, or a delusion and a lie.
It is inescapable, then, that this battle for democracy in the Middle East is the same as is all worldly battles: vanity. We know this from Solomon. Freedom? Solomon had it, for he was king. Truth? Solomon had it, for he was the wisest man that ever lived. Wealth? Solomon had it, for he was the richest man in the world. All of those things and more Solomon had, and they didn’t make him happy. Instead, Solomon found them to be vanity. Why? Because God’s Holy Spirit had departed from him because of his idolatry and apostasy. Despite having everything in his hands what these people in the Middle East are killing and dying for and more, Solomon was unhappy. As a result, everything that he had and possessed, everything that he even wanted and aspired to, was worthless. They were worthless precisely because of their very temporal and therefore attainable (at least for some) nature. By contrast, the things of Jesus Christ are the things that truly matter, and they last forever.
So, liberation theology and other religious movements that are primarily concerned with ideas and other things of this world, are vanity. The same can be said with any number of economic, social and political movements: vain, light limited and flawed things that will not last the test of time. Or, as it were, things that will no longer be when time is no more. And that is why despite living in an evil, authoritarian repressive pagan Roman Empire that was wicked to the core, Jesus Christ, Paul and Peter were still able to tell us to be subject to our government and leaders, and even to pray for them. The reason is that these governments only have rule over us for a time. We should be able to endure their inefficiencies, their imperfections, and even their outright wickedness because these things are only for a time. When that time – our time on earth – is at its end, they have no more rule or power over us. Instead, that is when we pass from the temporary, limited flawed rule of man to the permanent, unlimited and perfect rule of Jesus Christ. How is it that we can be counted worthy to enjoy the benefits of the latter if we so reject and despise the cost of the former, even if that cost is persecution unto death?
And this is not merely New Testament doctrine. Remember David as he was being persecuted by the wicked government of his day as embodied by King Saul and his soldiers as they hunted and sought to kill him, and later by Absalom and those loyal to him when they rebelled against David and tried to do the same. It was in the power of David to personally overthrow the wicked human government of Saul and institute a new government to his own liking by killing Saul and becoming king instead. But David refused to do such a thing, because David knew that by doing so, he was not actually rebelling against a wicked government, but against God. David knew that his own miserable circumstances did not justify taking matters into his own hands to correct them.
Instead, David was willing to let God deal with the problem in God’s time and in God’s manner. As David was a man after God’s own heart, should we not do the same in response to our own turmoils and crises? That is not a popular idea in an American society that glorifies our own Revolutionary War with its tea party and “no taxation without representation” and Declaration of Independence and George Washington, but that is just more evidence that human ideas, Cain and Babylon inventions, are always going to be more popular than what the Bible says. That is why our duty as Christians isn’t to do what is popular with the people as King Saul wanted to do, but instead to do what God commands us as King David did! We are to do what God commands as opposed to what feels good and seems right in our own eyes! What a radical concept!
And allow me to point out with regards to democracy, that Absalom nearly succeeded in deposing and murdering King David because he gained popularity with the people. And that Jeroboam was able to keep the Northern Kingdom of Israel from rejoining the house of David in Judah by appealing to the people. And that during the time of Israel’s apostasy there were a multitude of false prophets who were very popular with the people. And the children of Israel in the desert provoked God to wrath by receiving the wicked report of the ten spies that was popular with the people.
So after all, what is democracy but power to the people who want to seek their own way instead of God’s? Just as it was in the days of the Old Testament, it is so in the Middle East, that very same region of the world today. And just as King Rehoboam rejected the wise counsel of the elders in favor of the foolish counsel of the young when confronted with the first crisis in his kingdom, and had ten of the twelve tribes rebel against him as a result, the rulers of the world are siding with the foolish young leaders in the Middle East today. And how many Christian churches today are following the young because they are desperate to be hip and relevant? As it was then, it is today, and as they are, far too many of us are because we are worldly and carnal.
I cannot speak to the long term results of this Middle East turmoil. Its direct implications on issues like the church, Israel, the world governments and economy I do not know, and those are things that God knows and controls. For now, it is enough to say that the very fact that these demonstrations are being embraced, supported and promoted by so many people all over the world is a very troubling thing. It is evidence of how many rulers, leaders and people of this current world order have completely given themselves over to a strange, evil and wicked mindset that rejects order, decency and propriety in favor of presumptuous decadent confusion. I do not know what age or time this Middle East crisis is leading us into, but it is sufficient to say that the reaction to and support of the rebellious demonstrators in the streets over and against the legitimate rulers and governments of these nations is a judgment of the wickedness, depravity, hypocrisy and moral vacancy of our own times. And all such evil and wickedness is not just against man but also against God, and this is the same God that one day will judge all wickedness.
All one needs to do is read Revelation and realize that this judgment and punishment is a serious matter indeed. What a person must do is come out of this wickedness so that they will not be part of this judgment. When that time of judgment comes, do not be counted among the riotous, the seditious, the rebellious, and of the people who have vicarious pleasure in those who do such things. Instead, be counted among those who love the order and peace, which are those who love and trust Jesus Christ, who when He comes into His kingdom will not suffer any such rebellions but instead will rule the nations with the rod of iron. When Jesus Christ returns for His friends, even the last enemy of God’s system of order and stability, death, will be defeated and cast into the lake of fire. Even so, come Lord Jesus!