[NOTE FROM TB: Please note the apology and change to my comment below. I took an uncalled-for jab at attorneys, and therefore at my dear brother, Dan, below. Fact is, Dan and several other attorneys I know and love are precisely what I was calling for—faithful Christians who live out that precise righteousness spoken of by Isaiah. I praise God for them and their faithful service to many needy and oppressed!]
It's all well and good to say the Christian should not look for the civil magistrate to supplant the preacher of the Gospel in calling men to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We don't need huge books to make that point. It's obvious. And yet I suppose it is precisely those obvious places where scholastics like to sit and ruminate. And if they pull off the supercilious thing well enough, they may be successful in enticing callow young men to listen to their ruminations; or better yet, buy them.
Meanwhile, the real action continues unimpeded. Brothers and sisters in Christ are being forced out of their calling, their work and profession, by civil magistrates, professional societies, professors, teachers, school boards, trade organizations, public monopolies like the AMA and Apple and Google, and state bar associations—all united in their attack upon God's Created Order and Law. It's impossible to miss. Everyone sees it every single day and its fruit of blood and damnation is piled up three feet high and rotting in our nation's public square...
Yet it is shocking how Christian scholastics studiously avoid acknowledging this growing darkness. Never ever do they speak up for the widow, the orphan, or any other of the endless line of oppressed. In fact, worse than refusing to speak up, they make a principle out of it!
No sir, I will not sound a clear note on my bugle! No sir, I will not stand in the gap! No sir, I will not preach to the Areopagus! No sir, I will not picket the abortuary! No sir, I will not stop for the body left bloody by the bandits. He is not my neighbor!
No sir, I will not preach in the courts or palaces of Festus or Pilate. No sir, I will not stand against my governor for taking his brother's wife. No sir, I will not file a complaint with the ethics committee of my professional association in defense of my neighbor's Christian conscience. No sir, I will not stand against evil and injustice and bloodshed.
I'm busy studying the confessions of dead men who battled in their own time. I'm busy writing books about this and that distinction between this and that method of speaking these and those words about this and that aspect of this and that trajectory of this and that hermeneutic pointing toward this and that view of realized eschatological revivification of perambulators pushed by nannies busying themselves with things outside their jurisdiction. OUTSIDE their jurisdication, I say!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get you. You're scared and you want to hide. What else is new? Don't you think Jesus and John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul and Deacon Stephen wanted to hide, too?
But we must fear God. He Himself has warned us:
Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah. What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them. So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword. Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 1:10-21)
How the faithful city has become a harlot, She who was full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, But now murderers.
Our problem today isn't pastors abandoning the church for the Areopagus, the State House, or the Governor's Mansion. Our problem today is church officers who, under the guise of meekness and humility, trample church courts with hands covered with blood. Who are given to evil deeds. Who refuse to seek justice, refuse to reprove the ruthless, refuse to defend the orphan, and refuse to plead for the widow. Who live in cities which have become harlots, cities where murderers live and ply their trade, and yet spend their time writing books warning pastors and elders and deacons to shut their mouths and hide in their sanctuaries and homes.
What's needed is not Christian scholastics telling pastors, elders, and deacons to shut up. What's needed is pastors, elders, and deacons seeking justice, reproving the ruthless, defending the orphan, and pleading for the widow knowing God's Law is a schoolmaster toward the Cross of Jesus Christ. What's needed today is faithful witnesses to the fast-approaching Kingdom of Heaven who are willing to extend to this wicked world the grace of the Law.
But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” (Acts 24:24, 25)
Fifteen years ago, Ken Sande told me he was involved in a case defending a Christian bookseller in Canada who had been arrested for carrying a book teaching the Biblical doctrine of sexuality, specifically that God created sexual intimacy for one man and one woman united in a lifelong monogamous covenantal union. Now the question is whether Christians in Canada will be permitted to teach or practice law. And really, who cares?
It's not our sandbox. It's not our profession. It's not the right time or place to reprove the ruthless or to seek justice.
And even if it were the right time and place, I'm not the right man.
After all, I'm a teaching elder and I have my quiet and dignified private places to exercise my gifts. And you bet, the gates of Hell tremble at my quiet and dignified and private pastoral administrations. My neighbors next door may not know it, but I'm establishing a confessional, liturgical, and sacramental reform that is taking over the four most influential churches in the five Presbyterian and Reformed denominations with more than six congregations.