I previously pondered how the presence and the politics of the Kingdom of Heaven and its citizenry are to be known. They’re known by their Sacraments more than their Worldview Warfare. And I considered how Christianity-as-Worldview has a Gnostic attitude toward the corporate body of the Church.
So, am I saying this is an either/or situation? That there is only peace and no war? That the Faith is to have a sort of spiritual pacifism toward the world? No. I’m not denying the need to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. Nor the need to fight principalities and powers who have the world in their clutches. I make a distinction between the weapons of our spiritual warfare and the carnal weapons of this world (cf. 2 Cor. 10:4-6). But the irony is Worldview™ Warfare, which praises that passage as a mission statement, wields carnal and worldly weaponry.
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My (edited) thoughts from elsewhere on cultural, spiritual, and liturgical warfare:
1. If I’m in a culture war, then who’s my enemy? Is my neighbor with a face and a name my enemy? Well, I remember a little something King Jesus said about that. Love of neighbors is the disposition of the Kingdom that saints are to have.
2. For the saints in Christ, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood”, and “the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly”. The sooner we get our minds back on that simple fact, the better off we’ll be. Demons and the deceit in which they traffic are the real enemy. And our neighbors are their captives.
3. Israel of old waged war on fearsome giants inhabiting the Promised Land. That was a typological precursor to the church going to war in the heavenly realm. Against demonic world-graspers in the darkness of this age and spiritual wickedness. Know your enemy; name him and his center of gravity.
4. The church has been seduced by this culture. She’s embarrassed in this culture to name Satan and his minions. Embarrassed to denounce them as the enemy. This is why she has joined in with the culture of demonizing human rivals in the absence of real demons.
5. Yes, it’s true; the church in the contemporary West is plagued by niceness. It lives under the structures and values of the surrounding corporatistic-consumeristic culture. And the church could generally use a good shot in the arm of the Stalwart vaccine.
6. Yet some of the most vociferous internal critics of this epidemic (with syringe in hand) are a wee bit too eager and enthusiastic. In their disagreeable polemical apologetics, they need to take a Chill Pill for their fervor fever.
7. The warfare of the church militant is liturgical in its character and practice. It’s done in public worship. We ascend by faith into heaven, and we call on God to bring his kingdom upon the earth. We worship in the heavens, and God acts in judgment upon the earth. He vindicates and glorifies his Name and his saints who bear that Name.
8. The church brings heavenly kingdom politics into the earthly political realm. This is the “heavenization” of the world. Assembled worship of the body and nurture of its individual members is the starting point of that transformation. But if Christians circumvent those means, it doesn’t work. It’ll be a futile and worldly undertaking.
9. God’s people are to assemble to praise his Name, seek his Face, hear his Word, and feed at his Table in the Day of the Lord (i.e. the Lord’s Day) every week. That is the greatest, the most central, the most countercultural public display of the Kingdom of Heaven there is.
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The faithful ministry of the Word and the Sacraments is (among many other things) the church engaged in effectual warfare in the world. Liturgical warfare waged from heaven. The classical marks of the church are the marks of a church engaged in spiritual warfare:
- Word rightly proclaimed
- Sacraments rightly administered
- Body rightly nurtured and disciplined
It’s not that we don’t know, defend, and teach what the Faith believes. And it’s not that we don’t pursue wisdom and engage in polemicism. To be sure, much theological precision is owed to polemical apologetics. It’s the furnace in which it was forged as a tool and refined as precious treasure. It’s only that we must resist the urge to supplant the classical marks of the church with this alternative scheme.
- Worldview™ rigorously weaponized
- Culture rigorously combated and countered
- Partnerships rigorously promoted and policed
This alternative scheme is a fiery furnace that consumes but does little else.