Resisting Evil is to Love and Honor God

Social justice is not the Gospel -- the Good News -- of Jesus and the Jesus Movement: it is the natural consequence of Jesus' Message. A wise preacher once wrote: "All who fear [i.e., respect, honor] the LORD will hate evil." (Prov. 8:13) You and I might confess: "Well, that statement appears rather straightforward, and thus we must confront and resist the evil of racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, as well as any number of other perceived evils in our respective cultures." But to a racist, who thinks that God has exalted "white" people and created people of color of lesser worth, "resisting evil" assumes another form entirely.

Or, consider the worldview of someone like Donald Trump, who thinks that, with regard to the Charlottesville event, "both sides" were equally wrong. Does he think we were wrong to wage war against the Nazis? Were "both sides" equally wrong? I agree that violence in our streets is not the answer to fighting and resisting the evil that is the racist Alt-Right (à la Breitbart, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Sebastian Gorka), or racists, white nationalists and white supremacists (the KKK, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, Skinheads, Christian Identity), like prominent spokesmen David Duke and Richard B. Spencer. Our battle is for truth.

Understand this about these racist groups, however: none of them, nor any of their members, belong to the Jesus Movement and His Gospel. Hence, not only are they all in need of Jesus' Gospel and salvation, but any semblance of their claim to Christianity is a farce at best. But, at least for the Alt-Right, the members of these groups do not truly care about Jesus' Gospel and faith. First, Richard B. Spencer is a self-avowed atheist who believes that the separation of church and state is an utter myth; and, yet, he believes that people need to believe in religion (or a god) in a society for war-mongering and to flourish. (link)

Second, the likes of Richard Spencer and other racists do not really have a genuine interest in Jesus' Gospel and His Movement, but merely want to use the power of religion to their own advantage. If you will: they want to perpetuate a form of godliness but deny the actual power of godliness for their own personal selves. (2 Tim. 3:5) Now, given that these racist individuals have no vested interest in Jesus and His Movement (the Faith, the worship, salvation), they also maintain no vested interest in ultimate truth. Jesus confesses and declares that He is Truth Incarnate -- God-Truth walking around in flesh. (John 14:6)

Because we believe that Jesus is Truth-Incarnate -- He defines truth and contextualizes truth -- we can look to His life and beliefs and shape how we are to think and to act daily. "We accept as true," writes the Rt. Rev. Andrew Doyle, "that Jesus Christ is the living, resurrected example of how humanity is to treat one another, and that we ought to seek to emulate [cf. Heb. 12:1-2] His Way."1 Jesus represents the heart of our triune God. (Heb. 1:3) He continues: "While it is a good thing to be happy, and to feel good about oneself, we do not believe that this is the central goal in life. Our faith teaches us that God asks us to sacrifice our lives for others' sakes."2 Self-sacrificial living properly defines love. (1 John 3:16)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA: HATRED, EVIL, RACISM IN ACTION

If we have properly defined Jesus' social justice values, and the core tenet constituting "love" (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4-7), then what is evil? Some examples of evil granted by Jesus include "evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly." (Mark 7:21, 22 NIV; cf. Prov. 6:16, 17, 18, 19) St Paul grants examples of evil: "fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery [φαρμακεία, drug-use], enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these." (Gal. 5:19, 20, 21) These lists are not exhaustive.

Solomon speaks for God when he explains what is abominably evil: "Those who are too proud or tell lies or murder, those who make evil plans or are quick to do wrong, those who tell lies in court or stir up trouble in a family." (Prov. 6:17, 18, 19 CEV) Violence (with intent to harm or murder), whether in the Old Testament or the New, from Moses (Gen. 6:11; cf. Gen. 9:6) to Solomon (Prov. 6:17), or to Jesus (Mark 7:21) and St Paul (1 Tim. 1:9), is condemned as being inherently evil. Why? "Whoever sheds the blood of any human being, by a human being shall that person's blood be shed; for in God's own image God made humanity." (Gen. 9:6) When we resist (proactively oppose) violence we honor God and humanity.

We should never, therefore, confuse or conflate love with an intentional passivity in confronting and resisting hatred and evil. We are commanded to or stand against evil. (James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9) If we are persecuted for being Christian, for following Christ in this Jesus Movement, then we are to bear the brunt of such persecution. (Matt. 5:10, 11, 12) But when evil people rise up in hatred, with evil intent to harm or to murder, we are called upon by God and Truth Incarnate, Jesus Christ, to oppose, to resist, and to actively stand against the perpetration of such evil. By doing so, we protect the marginalized, and the oppressed, we shield and safeguard people created in the image of God, and we honor the Lord. Resist!

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1 Andrew Doyle, Unabashedly Episcopalian: Proclaiming the Good News of the Episcopal Church (New York: Morehouse Publishing, 2012), 10.

2 Ibid.

2 comments:

Hugh Krone said...

You're right of ccourse, I just wish things could be a little more black and white sometimes

The Episcocrat said...

You're on vacation, boy! What'chu doin' reading blogs, hahahaha. I agree. I agreed with your last comments, too; so much that I couldn't even respond. I should have told you that.

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ABOUT WILLIAM BIRCH

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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.