(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.