In a recent article in Faith for All of Life, a publication of the Chalcedon Foundation, an article by the late founder, R. J. Rushdoony appeared. We read, among a number of valuable assertions about the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah, this head-turner:
Today those who represent the cause of Christ are a handful. Virtually every church the length and breadth of this country and around the world is given over to evil, is given over to the powers of darkness, so that we face a monstrous evil everywhere in the church and power is in their hands.
Note carefully that Rushdoony does not declare that the church is in dire straits and in desperate need of revival (true enough); that it has apostatized and that only a wholesale Biblical reformation will restore it (yes, indeed); that never in church history has she suffered such lamentable backsliding (quite possibly true also). No. Virtually every church the world over is given over to Satan, such that monstrous evil is everywhere in the church. One wonders if pastors Steve Zink of Ottawa Reformed Presbyterian Church and Phillip G. Kayser of Dominion Covenant Church, whose articles appear in the same issue of the magazine, fall under Rushdoony’s sweeping verdict.
This demonstrably false (and flagrantly unproven) verdict is breathtakingly hubristic. Did Rushdoony actually hold such embarrassing — and contra-Biblical — views? Did this cultural critic whom God at times blessed with stunning insights into the spirit of the 20th century finally narrow his view of God’s work to the exclusion of the church? If so, this is a tragedy.
In every apostate age it seems that some men and women, overcome with both moral outrage and religious self-pity (a lethal combination), see themselves and their followers and the few who agree with them as God’s warriors who alone are left to battle the pervasive evils of church and culture. Elijah is the poster child for this self-pitying arrogance (1 Kin. 19:10) — “Your people, O God, are apostate, and I alone am standing for the truth, and the apostates are out to destroy me.” To which Jehovah responded:
“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
The language “whose knees have not bowed” might invite images of a later godly troop, the three Hebrew young men, who defied Nebuchadnezzar’s idolatrous edict to bow the knee to his massive image (Dan. 3). At the king’s knee-benders’ convention, these three stayed true to God and His holy law, and exposed themselves to the king’s wrath in the fiery furnace, from which the Son of God delivered them. But had He chosen not to deliver them, they had determined not to obey the king’s perverted decree (v. 18). Conviction does not count the consequences.
God always preserves a remnant to himself (Rom. 11:1–5), and at every modern knee-benders’ convention — whether the idolatry in support of an apostate denominational program like same-sex ordination to the ministry, the idolatry of assent to the state trough of tax-financed abortions and socialist programs, or the idolatry of a revived pagan culture that deifies tolerance of any sexual perversion and excoriates only Biblical Christianity —there are 7000 who on pain of hostility and in some cases martyrdom, refuse before the face of God to assent.
There are always men and women of God and churches who refuse to bow the knee, who fear God more than man, who love Jesus’ Gospel and God’s moral law and would as soon seen their lives snuffed out as to betray the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for a mess of populist pottage.
This is why self-pitying and -serving claims that “I alone” am standing for the truth are so evil: they libel and slander all the faithful churches and pastors who are quietly and unceremoniously — with no magazine megaphones and no blogging blastcasts — standing without compromise often in out-of-the-way places, preaching the truth every Sunday, instructing the saints throughout the week, delivering the gospel to unbelievers, pouring out their souls before God in prayer, holding up the fainthearted and rebuking the rebellious. They are God’s straight-legs in a knee-bending era.
Seven thousand straight-legs at the knee-benders’ convention deserve better than a callous and false verdict that “[v]irtually every church the length and breadth of this country and around the world is given over to evil, is given over to the powers of darkness, so that we face a monstrous evil everywhere in the church and power is in their hands.”
“Every church”? “Everywhere in the church”? Not so fast.
Don’t sell short God’s work in other churches around the world.
The truth does not begin and end with you.