Ellul, Nuremberg, and abortion; with a note on the Obama/Wright ruckus...

(Tim) When I read Jacques Ellul's False Presence of the Kingdom a number of years ago, I found it very helpful in giving me a Christian understanding of Church-state relations, and particularly the danger of the Church being compromised in her work and message by the influence and power of the state.

Any Christian pastor watching the ruckus over the sermons of Senator Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, this past few weeks should have quickly concluded that this controversy is significant, principally, in yielding one more step in the inexorable movement of the removal of truth and courage and boldness from the proclamation of God's Word in churches around our country. It's been a terrible moment when someone watching closely could literally watch the feminization of discourse taking huge steps forward, particularly in the public discourse of the Church and Her Word known as preaching. (And no, I'm not defending the particulars of Pastor Wright's sermons.)

If you haven't read this work by Ellul, buy it now and read it carefully. Ellul has the sort of mind and pen that probe and expose our hearts such that we are invigorated and feel as if we might be partaking of the air and wind of another more truthful and honest age.

Remembering Ellul's wonderful bracingness, I just found and read a short essay by him, from 1947, titled, "On Nuremberg." I post it here as an historical meditation on the depravity of man, and thus the necessity of the substitutionary atonement--Good Friday's priceless treasure of the cross and blood and death of Jesus Christ. Oh how we need that precious blood!

Think beyond ourselves, to the terrible bloodsheds Western civilization has been (and presently is) built upon...

slavery, the Civil War, the bombing of civilians in the European theater, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1.3 million infant murders in the US alone each year, euthanasia, morning after pills, and the list goes on and on--and it's clear that Nuremberg was, as Ellul points out so well, something akin to a medieval morality play that provided the pretext of condemning the losers' atrocities while leaving those of us who were the victors vindicated. In our own eyes, though--not the eyes of God.

With Him, the fact that the Nazis slaughtered Poles, mentally handicapped, Jews, and Christians whereas we slaughter only wee ones asleep in their mother's womb makes our blood guilt no less than theirs, but much greater. A few years back, a godly Christian brother from Rwanda pointed out to our church that, in connection with his own nation's machete shame which sickened us, our own slaughter of infants was much much worse.

Remember the Holy Spirit refers to child sacrifice as an evil, an abomination so terrible it had never "entered" the "mind" of God.

They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jeremiah 32:35)

So in preparation for the joy of the Resurrection celebration all God's Church joins in tomorrow morning, I do hope you'll read Ellul's essay and meditate on our need for God's mercy through Jesus Christ, but also the coming Judgment before this One to Whom God has given all authority in Heaven and on earth.


"It's been a terrible moment when someone watching closely could literally watch the feminization of discourse taking huge steps forward, particularly in the public discourse of the Church and Her Word known as preaching".

I am confused by what you are saying here. Are you saying that Rev Wrights discourse was feminized, if so, I don't quite understand what you mean.


Not completely related, but I've always wondered if it is possible for God to be surprised.

>Are you saying that Rev Wrights discourse was feminized

Not at all. Rather, that the mess caused by what Pastor Wright preached will lead many faithful pastors to remove even more from sermons already weak in boldness, truth, or God's Law lest they get quoted and excoriated in the press, as Pastor Wright has.

Really, it's pretty basic: Senator Obama's candidacy was jeopardized by what his pastor said in the pulpit years before. Don't question for even a moment that all of us who preach around this country stopped to consider how our sermons would "play in Peoria," as they say, and realized that the true doctrines of Scripture would play little better than Pastor Wright's racism.

Scripture preaching in simplicity and with boldness is always, always scandalous. What's changing today, though, is that the media, academic, judicial, and legislative authorities are becoming ever bolder in judging and condemning that preaching and those who do it.

Look northward, brothers and sisters, to Canada.

Watch Rev. Jeremiah Wright's 9-11 sermon in context

Already 170,000 people have watched this video


Government may intrude on the world of preaching and we should fear that, but Wright's social-gospel preaching isn't a good example of the point you are trying to make. Quite the contrary, if the government were to intervene in the life of the church, it would require pastors to sound more like Wright, not less.

If there was any feminization in this discourse, it was Obama's weak response to Wright's craziness. But true believers don't need Wright archives to critique this candidate; we need only to look at the statement of faith at his church to know what he believes in.

As I've said before, it's not the words or rhetoric of either Pastor Wright or Senator Obama that will result in even more feminized discourse in our pulpits in the future. Rather, this will be the inevitable consequence of the entire ruckus, causing pastors to be even more cautious than we already are in avoiding statements offensive to moderns.

I wasn't talking about the doctrine of Pastor Wright himself, or his church, but the condemnation of the church's message by secular authorities.

I happen to believe God was speaking through the Rev. Wright on the days of those sermons and that his will was done. I believe he did so in order to provoke these discussions, to inspire Barack Obamas gift speech on race, to cause many thousands of young people and others to hear the full sermon on YouTube. Even if you don't agree with the technique or tenor of the Rev. Wrights sermons I believe it has sparked people to at least think about Christ in the context of their lives. To examine what is hate and what is love, and if just one person takes a first, or second look at Christ and is able to then accept him as their lord and savior from this incident I proclaim praise God let his will be done.

I guess it serves me right for commenting on Senator Obama's pastor, but it would please me if someone would actually read Ellul's article and comment on it. I mean, how beyond-ironic it is that Pastor Wright and Senator Obama claim to be prophets of unity and love while Senator Obama (and I'm guessing, Pastor Wright, also) advocate the slaughter of unborn children, even going so far as to oppose live birth legislation.

As the "New Yorker" said last week, even Democrats have no idea how "liberal" Senator Obama is--particularly compared to Senator Clinton. And of course, as it's used by the "New Yorker," "liberal" actually means something approximating cruel, lawless, and godless.

Thanks for posting the Ellul -- "False Presence" is indeed a wonderful book that should be far more widely read than it is. (As are his "Subversion of Christianity" and "Presence of the Kingdom".) How easily we let go of the simple fact that the Word of God will always be scandalous to those wedded to the Political Powers of the world! =(

This whole news coverage is a major distraction for what really ails America. Yes, the remarks were inflammatory and could easily be seen as hateful. Anti-America comments, no, it's the truth many people see and not just African Americans. The last presidential election it was "same sex marriage" that got the people stirred up and Bush a second term. This time it's anti-patriotism, a distraction!

I feel sorry for hardworking Americans trying to survive in this economy (regardless of race) and soldiers dying or wounded in a needless war. Our unstable economy and loss of jobs and what NAFTA has produced is what concerns me. These are the issues that affect my life, not seeming anti-American statements of a Chicago preacher. In Chicago, in the Black community, Dr. Wright and the Trinity Church has and is doing marvelous social work and is considered a beacon of light. Wright is not perceived as a hate-filled preacher and craze ministry. The Black community don't always understand how easy Americas are distracted, especially, when we're really hurting and at the hands of our own leadership. With films like "Iraq for Sale" and others, they don't make a dent in the American people ability to see that we're a very much imperfect union. It's almost as if we prefer to be deceived and issues sugar coated if stated at all. Racism promotes white supremacy and this is no substitute for a true sense of self-worth and fairness. At the end of the day, we're all trying to feel good about ourselves and hopefully, make this world a better place. Distractions such as this will always hinder blind-sighted, Americans, who have good intentions, but are taught and guided to be judge and jury on race issues and not real issues and resolutions that sustain growth...this war, gas prices and companies taking jobs overseas and still getting tax credits.

The great thing about the Obama Presidential bid is that Americans are getting the chance to think for themselves! Out of this new America will become a stronger and more viable country. "The People" will have a true voice, politicians will do their job or lose them. This distraction is to take this away and I guess this is the real reason for trying to stopping the Obama train.

Just a couple of corrections, "fellow American".

You wrote, "same sex marriage".

and that should actually read: same sex "marriage".

You also wrote, " "The People" will have a true voice"

This assumes, of course, that "The People" does not include those most vulnerable members of society which, having survived a previous murder attempt, Mr. Obama doesn't mind seeing murdered by neglect.


Fellow American, in the midst of Trinity's marvelous social work, is it common for someone to come to true faith there?

Well, from the comments of christians and others I guess we all have pre-judged or drawn our conclusions.

Although, I find it very ironic, that no one will recall the injustice that had been done to Blacks and is yet continuing. I also, find it to be God like, if you will self righteous. Daily people of color all races faces discrimination, and hate in some shape form or fashion, and nothing but a Hate crime bill is set forth to assist those of color.

How can anyone judge those of color and their fight for equality forget their past when it's really never been addressed. When most that states they themselves isn't racist but yet do nothing to stop it. But is totally furious when they are faced with the truth? Rev. Wright isn't alone, just read some of the blog entry's on some of these sites.

When Blacks are wrongfully incarcarated, or their homes being littered with racist remarks or exploited on television and radio's by commentators it's very hard and very likely forgetting is not going to take place.

A "true faith" that advocates the slaughter of born preemie infants? That kind of "true" Christian "faith?" Start right there with Senator Obama, brothers and sisters in Christ--right there.

For that matter, every American citizen should start there, realizing precisely how compassionate, reasonable, just, merciful, and kind this man is.

"But he seems like such a nice gentleman, and I feel so--what is it, enlightened?--when I listen to him speak. So hopeful, really. Isn't it finally time for us to repent of our racism? How could anyone question our broadmindedness and Christian charity if it's a coalition of evangelicals and Democrats who put an African American into the White House?"

I know you tire of hearing me say this, friends, but keep in mind that this Senator Obama we look to for racial reconciliation stands on the awful foundation of the slaughter of 1.3 million unborn per year. That, dear friends, is the real Senator Obama: A man who claims to be for peace when he's up to his eyeballs in the blood of innocent and completely defenseless unborn children. Helpless little ones nestled in their mothers' wombs...

Slavery never stops. Only the victims change.


That's the question, isn't it?


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