Puritan Futurism

April 25, 2010

By Jeffrey A. Ziegler

At SGI, we are fundamentally bound to an unshakably optimistic view of the future. Our central core belief in the “dominion mandate” points toward a time wherein the rule of the righteous will be all-pervasive. We hold to a proper estimation of the exhaustive and encompassing power of the glorified Christ. This translates into our hope that sin and its effects will be progressively vanquished both within our hearts, and demonstrably throughout the nations. Moreover, we embrace the vision of the church as the “embassy of God” which stands as an unconquerable ensign of Christ’s plenipotentiary governance, and hence, cannot be defeated in time or history. These overarching expectations form our worldview, our sense of reality, and thus ought to harness our behavior toward righteous and victorious results.

Unfortunately, we are all crippled by sin nature. Sin as a principle, distorts, blinds, and sabotages our faith in Christ’s victorious kingdom. This war between the biblical ideal and our sinful impulse makes for disjointed priorities, impertinent resistance, and even at our best, inconsistent applications of the truth. In fact, our generation is severely hampered not only doctrinally, but practically, due to the absence of working models that answer the question: “How then should we live?”

The Puritan Model

While not perfect, the Puritan movement offers great historic-cultural examples of how we are to “live” what we are supposed to believe. Despite modern historic often ludicrous-revisionist themes, Puritanism at its zenith, was a lively, grace-filled, and very practical movement. The Puritan ethic of living for the future had its impact on family, church, economics and industry, as well as the development of American political social theories and law.

Piety

In the arena of personal piety, a futuristic vision of the kingdom effected selfless living. As an example; Puritan men were not under the illusion that they were the center of reality. There were no discussions of “felt needs” or victimization. The Puritan male did not whine over hardship nor did he embrace a pornographic imagination that swoons on the falsehoods of fantasy laden romanticized themes. The greater the man, the more evidence there was of humility before God, of repentance, acts of service, of chivalry, and a dynamic life of prayer. To the Puritan man, Christ was a person to love and pursue, cherish, and emulate by his grace. In fact, all the great Puritans were very prone to despair over their sin and failings, and were voraciously hungry for the presence of Christ. This ethic of “the pursuit of Christ” looked to a future of maturity, growth, and abundant fruitfulness. Such notions are in stark contrast to the modern American male who lives either in a world of arrogant machismo, or that of a weak, insecure victimization cult. Both patterns are acutely selfish and live for the moment, effectively eviscerating the future.

Family

This future orientation was also translated into Biblical priorities on the familial level. Motherhood was venerated and protected at all costs. Children, the fruit of the covenant, and the promise of the future, were seen as an asset and not a competitive liability. The Puritan husband’s primary duty revolved around spiritual instruction and prayer of his family, with his vocational combined toward this end. It was after all, the sacred trust of the Faith that was to be nurtured, even above material comforts and this was the pivot around which all else revolved. Moreover the Bismarck-FDR notion of “retirement” was repudiated for the notion of production until death!

In New England, the Puritan congregations were especially jealous to guard women and children, again because of their priority on the future. “Women and children first,” was more than a credo advanced in the midst of disaster, it was a way of life!

For example, if during a domestic altercation, a husband’s voice were loud enough so as to be heard outside the house, this was grounds for ecclesiastical intervention. Normally, this took the form of a fine levied in the name of the church and collected on the Sabbath. Where physical abuse was in evidence, the offending party was man handled (with vigor) and put into stocks for public shaming. This was in addition to fines and threat of excommunication. To reiterate, the rationale for these sanctions revolved around the health and vitality of the community which was inexorably linked to the future prosperity of their offspring. The future and the promise of blessing became the defining filter for all of life. Too, this ethic effected American brands of Catholicism, and became a distinctive cultural motif in the American westward expansion.

Women in particular flourished under this biblical aegis of honor, respect and esteem. Contrary to revisionist themes, Puritan women were industrious and prosperous. They resembled the Proverbs 31 woman in terms of economic ingenuity and ability. This changed drastically during the “Victorian” era when men came to view women as romantic play things with little more value than a pornographic-orgasmic tool of escape. But then the Victorian era arose as visible Christian orthodoxy declined, hence a humanistic-prurient culture disestablished the Christian-American dream. Our generation is the recipient of this insidious vision now at “full song” in the modern “Playboy-free love-abortion culture.”

Church

For the Puritan, church life was more than an observance of Sabbath. It was a cultural force that bound the community in faith, doctrine, sacraments, worship, vital friendships, accountability, tradition and ritual, music, mutual assistance, acts of charity, and overarching mission. In other words, church life was life. The Puritans were not isolationists nor given to material/spiritual dualism. The church then was an engine and catalyst for ideas and enterprise.

The Puritan saw the church as both prophetic (contemporaneous application of Biblical worldview) and Levitical (doctrinal-instructional) in its mission. An example of such Puritan prophetic leanings is found in the thought especially influenced by John Owen, Oliver Cromwell, and John Milton, which insisted that if the circumstances were right, Christians had both the right and the obligation to revolt against an evil and tyrannical monarch. This notion of political resistance related to the belief in corporate resistance to sin. Puritan thought, anchored in a firm understanding of God’s sovereignty, argued that a nation, because of the Biblical obligation to live according to God’s law, incurred corporate guilt for tolerating evil in the civil realm. Again, the notion of securing a more peaceable future for Gospel prosperity was the great appealing might behind such thought.

Within the context of the Levitical-instructional role of the church, there existed a weighty stress on doctrine and teaching. Prior to the Puritan, the role of the clergy was centered only on liturgy and the sacraments with little instruction. Not so with Puritanism! As an example, during the colonial period in New England, pastors delivered approximately 8 million sermons averaging 11/2 hours long each. The average seventy year old colonial church goer would have listened to 7,000 sermons or 10,000 hours of concentrated learning. Such an intense and in depth doctrinal emphasis produced four culture-altering visions of reality.

  1. All things and all institutions were under the cope and rule of heaven.
  2. All of life no matter how mundane was controlled by Providence.
  3. There existed an extensive biblical optimism characterized by the belief “that it was to a world made righteous that Christ would return.”
  4. Sense of Destiny in nation building and entrepreneurship riveted the community on the importance of success with purpose.

Once again, the notion of the future, not present expediency or future escape became the critical fulcrum which leveraged all of life. In turn, this was the fertile ground which fed the American Revolution and westward expansion.

It is time for all of us to reevaluate our priorities, time investments, interests and desires according to a Biblical-futuristic paradigm. The life of our American experiment depends on it!

Advertisements

Vision For The Christian Patriot

April 19, 2010

 By  Jeffrey A. Ziegler President SGI
 
Should the Christian patriot be involved in political activity? Is there a legitimate issue in the separation of church and state that would inhibit such endeavors? And shouldn’t Christians, as some would assert, simply take care of their own lives and leave everyone else alone?
 
Unswervingly, Christians are called to be dynamically active, not only politically, but in all spheres of life. Christians are not to live a life of self-centered introspection, but of service. Such service would include involvement in the various strata of civil government. Christianity does not depend on political means for the success of its mission, yet, involvement in civil government is meaningful, for it is one of the divinely chartered institutions of social order. The other governing institutions signified by self-government, the role of the family, and the Church.
 
The operative word here is Christianity, which is a far larger nomenclature than any one church structure or denomination. In other words, the Christian patriot is to act in spreading the good news of Christ’s Gospel along with the moral instruction of God’s Word into the political realm. This in no way suggests an organizational takeover of the state by the church, nor that the church neglect her ecclesiastical duties. Simply put, Christians are to be salt and light in the arena of politics, as in any other realm.  Whereas the visible, institutional Church is to function in her Levitical and Prophetic role, instructing the civil magistrate as to the duties and requirements of God’s law, and when needs must, rebuking the same, when God’s Law is impugned or ignored.
 
The goal of Christian activity in the political sphere is not a dictatorial theocracy, but the support of  a decentralized republic that acknowledges Christ as Lord. A true Christian patriot will not place  significance on political coercion, for the state is not God, nor should it be viewed as the great moral engine to mold human ethical behavior. The proper stimulus for involvement in the civil realm is to render politics much weaker, for the state has taken on a monolithic, messianic character that has suppressed ecclesiastical, familial, and self-government.  Practically, this translates into aspiration and work for smaller civil government, less taxation, and more individual freedom. The Scriptures do not favor an ecclesiastical elite, or a specific church body, ruling over the populace, nor are Christians to have hope in political salvation. In fact, our Puritan and Pilgrim forefathers arrived on these shores fleeing such religious tyranny. 
 
The Christian patriot should  abhor the idea of the state imposition of religious polity and doctrine, in other words the state controlling the church. A smaller civil government would be less tempted to violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Presently, our Federal government through the auspices of the IRS, has established what it considers a “legitimate church” through the creation of the 501c3 tax-exempt status. This is a clear attempt to establish a state religion and control the Church. Accordingly, such regulation is blatantly unconstitutional. Christian patriots must resist all efforts to undermine or eviscerate a biblical understanding of the First Amendment of the Constitution. The ACLU has not, does not, and must not be allowed to define the purpose and scope of this amendment.

Hence, the Christian patriot must see that both the church and the state, are established by God as separate institutions, that are not to undermine, nor interfere with each others respective duties. To the Church is given the “power of the keys” to bind into fellowship and instruct its members, and when necessary sanction and excommunicate the unrepentant. The state is given the “power of the sword” to promote and reward righteousness, and to punish and restrain wickedness. Accordingly, the Church and the state in juxtaposition, are to be viewed as augmentations one to the other, in the honoring of Christ and His Crown.
 
Therefore, Christians are not prohibited from involvement in the civic sphere, nor is the Church  to be silent in her moral directives to the state. The state must uphold the law of God thus promoting maximum liberty and justice for all. The state is to protect the Church, so that she is free to perform her divine charter. The Church must educate the state regarding its understanding of God’s Law and how it is to be applied.
 
Finally, it is imperative that Christian patriot realize that all of life (including politics) is religious. It is never a question of religion or no religion only a question of whose religion. Thus, one must acknowledge the impossibility of divorcing religion from the civil sphere. Civil government will reflect the notions and ideas of the dominate religion of that day. For example; the religion of Secular Humanism supports the “freedom” to practice pornography, abortion, and euthanasia. Economically, Humanism supports forced socialistic-wealth-redistribution and the welfare state. It’s idea of law punishes the victims of crime and seeks to excuse lawless behavior. Some see this as the ultimate in political freedom, yet, the religion of secularism in application, abuses women, robs the unborn and the elderly of life and liberty, restricts or confiscates private property, and creates conditions wherein lawless behavior threatens moral anarchy and social collapse. In contrast to secularism, Christianity displays the kindness, benevolence, liberty, law and justice that established and prospered America for over 200 years.
 
Consequently, the Christian patriot, while supporting the separation of church and state, must understand that neither institution is separate from God. Finally, only a Christian ethic, undergirded by an explicit confession of Christ’s lordship in our founding documents is able to support a truly decentralized constitutional republic. Only in this context, can notions of life, liberty under God, and the blessings of prosperity be fully realized. A goal that every true patriot must be willing to pledge their lives, riches, and sacred honor to promote and defend.


Reed Worship

April 5, 2010

And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand. And they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:28,29).

The reed signifies the denial of Christ’s rightful present tense reign in this life. The scepter of a king was not just a weak plant with meaningless significance. In modern day America, this is the most common tradition of Easter – a consistent denial of Christ’s rulership in day-to-day affairs. Every time a baby is aborted and clergy insist there are “other issues,” a reed is placed in Christ’s hand and His Kingly rule is effectively denied. Every time so-called Christians vote against freedom and for tyranny, they deny Christ’s reign and place a reed in His hand! Each time a Christian refuses leadership or hides in the anonymity of false humility, a reed is again placed in the hand of Christ. Each time a seminary professor says “God doesn’t do that anymore,” they place a reed in Christ’s hand. Moderns love the reed and hate the scepter — the message of the supreme and contemporaneous Lordship of Christ.

LORDSHIP equates to dominion in every sphere of life. Many Christians find solace in admitting that God once ruled and will rule again. They even design whole theological systems to support such constructs. But as long as Christ’s reign is always for yesterday or tomorrow, it never has binding significance on your life today! So no matter how many eschatology maps one may possess, a denial of Christ’s rule and reign today amounts to a daily mocking of Christ!

Recently, President Obama boasted that neither asteroids nor the ground opening beneath him were in the offering for his anti-Christian antics. Obama placed a reed in Christ’s hands! Yet, Obama could never get away with such mocking, if it weren’t for the fact that clergy do it every Sunday!

They put a reed in His hand!

What about you dear reader? Is it a Scepter or a Reed?


2010 AN URGENT EASTER CALL TO FAITH, CONFESSION, ACTION

April 3, 2010

By Jeff Ziegler President: SGI

ROMANS 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

A faith confession – can be defined as a formal statement of doctrinal pinions-beliefs or a profession – a personal, open declaration that denotes an entire orientation of being according to the truths declared. Hence HEBREWS 10:23-24: Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works

Accordingly “holding fast” is more than a mental assent to truth. But an earnest contention and provocation to right action!

Mental assent while having advantages merely holds to a belief that certain facts are true.

LUKE 24:13-34 24:13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

24:14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

24:15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

24:16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

24:17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

24:18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

24:19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:

24:20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

24:21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

24:22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;

24:23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

24:24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

Up to this point the men on the road recited certain facts or had a mental assent to the ideals of Christ but had yet to KNOW HIM!

24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

24:26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

24:28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.

24:29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

24:30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

24:31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

24:33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

24:34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

24:35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

This factual, evidentiary faith or mental assent then leads to a true revelation by faith (a divine gifting) that brings men to a real-time relationship with the RISEN CHRIST! Mental assent left alone amounts to mere speculative notions that become an escape from personal accountability and relationship or a form of Intellectual self-deceit. In other words; a state wherein many truths are acknowledged but NOT acted upon as in a REAL, VITAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SUPREME AND RISEN CHRIST! Such a state exhibits a practical atheism.

True faith is more than mental assent it is a change of the whole man. The life of Faith starts with the assent to or knowledge of the Truth. Secondly, a full assurance of that truth conducts you to a new and sure foundation or standing, Thirdly, a love of those same truths and real passion derived from the same brings us to a vital lively relationship with Christ. Fourth, this love creates a hungering and thirsting for righteousness which fundamentally changes your state of being, and Finally, a confidence in the new ground or your forensic standing to take action which exhibits a change in your state leading to right action.

Right Action-As illustrated in Hebrews 11 when Standing and State are one reality it leads to acts which redefine the visible world according to that which is unseen.

HEBREWS 11

11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

11:18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

11:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.

11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

11:26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

11:28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.

11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

At every point in the Hebrews narrative history is changed in that belief in what is promised becomes a whole being orientation followed by corresponding actions thus making what was unseen into that which was an experiential, measurable reality. This Easter such faith is needed to demonstrate what is unseen in antithesis to tyranny!


%d bloggers like this: