Select Page

When I was a callow student at Duke University, the verdicts from the Greensboro Killings state trial came in November 1980. Five Klansmen were acquitted of murdering four Communist Party members and an additional man during a protest a year earlier. I considered the result unjust and therefore joined a campus protest rally.

But the speeches soon went far afield from the cause of justice in that case. And when one speaker blamed Ronald Reagan for the verdict – rather strange since he had just become President-Elect – I had heard enough and walked away. Little did I know that would be the first of many times I have experienced the Left hijack noble causes for ignoble ends.

As the 80’s progressed, I became more and more aware of a slower hijacking of my denomination at the time, the mainline Presbyterian Church. I read of the denomination pushing a political agenda more influenced by the liberal/left wing of the Democrat Party (in those olden days, the Democrat Party still had many moderates and conservatives even) than by the standards of scripture. Of course that denomination had already long been running from the standards of scripture and the creeds. I became more aware of that as well.

So in the late 80’s, I walked away again, vowing never to return to the church of my childhood and youth.

Today we are experiencing two hijackings, or at least attempted hijackings, with both similarities with and differences from what I experienced in the 80’s: looters, arsonists, and domestic terrorists using initially peaceful George Floyd protests to commit their crimes and the “social justice” woke Left attempting to convert orthodox Bible-believing denominations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), into pushing a left-of-center sociopolitical agenda. They have already succeeded with Christianity Today, CRU, InterVarsity and other major organs of “Big Evangelicalism.”

I do not presume to know whether or when walking away as I did in the 80’s is the best response. But as one who has seen too much of these sorts of things and their aftermath, may I make some suggestions? Yes, humor an old man who has seen a lot and listen.

An important first step is not to be naïve as I was in 1980. Be aware that the Left likes to hijack just about everything. Heck, they even hijack comic books and shaving products. So did you really think they would be satisfied with taking over the “mainline” denominations? Did you think they would be content with peaceful protests of the George Floyd killing and racist abuses of authority remaining both peaceful and about the George Floyd killing and racist abuses of authority?

Today’s Left has a totalitarian impulse that will not satisfied until it controls everything, including your church. Be aware of that.

Yes, the Right sometimes likes to hijack, too. Trust that I find having a big American flag as a backdrop for worship or singing “Make America Great Again” in church beyond cringeworthy. But those right-of-center tend to value the freedoms of individuals and of voluntary associations to pursue their own paths. They do not want to control all the things. They, including myself, aren’t perfect but they tend to have an anti-totalitarian impulse that serves freedom and a diverse civil society well. Having said that, one does not have to be a conservative to oppose the hijacking of churches and of peaceful protests.

Continuing, once one is aware of the Left’s totalitarian impulse to try to control just about everything, become aware of how that may be happening in your context, particularly in your church or voluntary association. In the 80’s I took just about every opportunity to read of what was going on in my Presbyterian Church. Don’t look for trouble but don’t avert your eyes from it either.

If one then finds that it is indeed happening to your church or association, then humbly pray and ask for wisdom about how best to respond (James 1:5) and seek that wisdom. Such seeking should include asking oneself some hard questions.

In the context of protest, one should ask how one may protest without enabling or providing a stage for destructive and criminal people that come to kill and destroy rather than doing their part for righteousness and justice. That does not necessarily mean withdrawing from the streets, although continuing to stay on the streets after the events of the past several nights is problematic at best. I do think we should recognize those peaceful protesters who have stayed on the streets and told violent Antifa types to get lost. May God bless their courage.

Resisting being hijacked in the context of church can be even harder to do with discernment. We are to speak the truth in love. Personally I find that hard to do when I see my church being used for causes I find repugnant. I do not know how many times I’ve asked myself whether I should do or say this or that or just muzzle it. I certainly do not claim my decisions in that regard have always been godly. But, on a good day, I pause and pray and ask myself hard questions about how to proceed.

I will say doing nothing in opposition is not a viable course. That was the course of most laypeople in the mainline denominations as they were being taken over by apostasy and Leftist ideologies during the 20th century. Those lazy negligent laypeople share the blame for what has become of their denominations.

Nor should we be too quick to walk away. Yes, I walked away from the mainline Presbyterian Church, and I still think that was the right thing to do. But walk away too much and too quickly and one may find oneself the bishop of an apartment cathedral. Christ will cleanse and perfect his Holy Church. But that probably will not be finished this week. God is patient with his church, and we should be, too.

And through church history, the church has always had issues. And there have been any number of isms, ideologies, heresies, and apostasies, that have tried to hijack the church. There is no one-size-fits-all response when that happens, sometimes not even for one person. We revere St. Athanasius for his courage in opposing the Arians. Yet there was a time or two when he wisely fled in order to fight another day.

But, again, doing nothing is not an option. When we find our church or other association being hijacked for evil or misguided causes, we need to become aware, and pray and seek God’s wisdom, then act in line with His wisdom, truth, and love.

Easier said than done, right? During this difficult Pentecost week, let us therefore especially thank God that he sends us His Holy Spirit to help us “to have a right judgement in all things.” We certainly need all the help and wisdom God by his Spirit graciously gives us.

Share This