Turning Victims into Tyrants and Hope for America
With today being the 4th of July, I am reminded of the promise of what the United States of America is meant to be, and was hoped to become by the early Puritan settlers and many of the founding Fathers. This nation was not created to become the answer to everyone's problems, but to give its residents the opportunity to discover and live out the answers for themselves. This meant giving people the freedom to seek out those answers, while also giving them room to fail in the process of seeking and living them out. Today, this nation seems to be careening towards an unknown but dark future wherein its government and its populace seems all too ready to sacrifice that freedom for the sake of comfort and empty promises of comfort. This is the evidence not only that we have lost the memory our culturally Christian heritage, but further that we as a nation no longer know what it is to be a whole people.
I see this regularly now in the kind of theology espoused by the teachers of most of the mainline denominational seminaries in America today. Power dynamics, victims and oppressors, ethnic and gender-based groupings of people and "white privilege" dominate the moral and ethical discussions rather than sin, salvation, sacrifice, holiness, Christ, and that powerful word so perfectly demonstrated by Jesus, forgiveness. The assumption and emphasis in all of these discussions within these seminaries is that political, economic and other forms of power must be given up by those who have it now, and that those who are oppressed must now be given the reigns.
I have been a victim many times over. I have also done evil, many times over. Having been a victim and oppressed by the evils of others, but then having encountered the living God in Jesus Christ, I have discovered how much both victims and oppressors need the same Savior. Victims when given power become oppressors. Oppressors out of power quickly become victims. This has nothing to do with power dynamics, and everything to do with the human heart.
While these theological leaders promote that the real problems of society are not individual sin but "systemic evils," they miss that to change the system requires individuals who are part of those systems be changed from the inside out such that they can stop and reverse those evils. Yet Marx and Engles and their atheistic view of humanity resonates far too loudly in the minds of these academics, saying that all people are deterministically controlled by circumstances and "systems" in a clockwork universe, requiring some kind of new intellectual revolution by which they can as a group overthrow the shackles of those systems.
Yet every revolution eventually gives way to a new tyranny because of the fallenness of the human heart, and in America, apart from the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit in each life, our nation is rapidly going that way of tyranny.
Yet, as I read in Paul's letter to the Galatians, especially in 3:13-14, I find that salvation by grace through faith has come to the world so that each one of us might know and be inhabited by God the Holy Spirit. This same Holy Spirit teaches each one of those who repent and believe in Jesus Christ how to live, how to love and how to serve, while bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives. Thus, while theologians more informed by academic debates and countless books than the Spirit and the Scriptures in how they interpret and preach about the world, can never compete with the wisdom of God revealed through the Holy Spirit in the life of even the simplest believer.
So now I am reminded that once again hope can be restored to America, not primarily by political or academic or cultural means, but by every believer seeking fellowship with and obedience to the Holy Spirit of God. By the Holy Spirit, cultures, schools and political systems can change in a moment. Just read about the revival in the Hebrides islands in the 1940's and 50's, or the first and second great awakenings for examples of this.
The evildoers forsake their evil, the oppressors repent of their oppression, and the victims find themselves forgiving their oppressors whether or not they continue in their evil ways. May we all, and may I especially, daily seek to hear, follow and obey the Holy Spirit whom we have been given by faith in Jesus Christ. By this manner of living, the kingdoms of this world will fall into submission to the Kingdom of God, not by the sword, but by the Holy Spirit. America can be saved. By faith, America shall be saved.
Happy Independence Day, and may God continue to bless America, that she might one day truly be a shining city upon a hill.
Phil Carlson Co-President Worth Love Ministries