“That’s not possible!” was one of the thoughts that I had when I first read the book and watched the video series called, “How Should We Then Live?”, published in 1976. It was in 1986 that I read and saw (in this video series) Francis Schaeffer use the words, “. . . a manipulative authoritarian elite . . .”, describing what is happening and coming in the Western world, of what would become the new setting for Christians to discern how we should then live under a government that has thrown off all historic foundations that are rooted in a “Christian Consensus.”
Totalitarianism will not come with the garments of Hitler’s Third Reich or Stalin’s Gulags, it will come with a softer tone and a more manipulative approach that will cause the masses to surrender to the state, as long as the state promises to provide for my “personal peace and affluency/prosperity”, that is, the citizens will say to the state, “you may take control and censor all of my life as long as you keep me modestly wealthy and safe from any external constraints or threats upon my life, my body . . . your choice.”
But we really should not be so surprised as we presently are; I suppose that’s what happens when it’s been so easy for so long to be a Public Christian, or for the sake of my audience, someone who would not confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior but at minimum, be a conservative, a moral traditionalist in the historic sense of American beliefs rooted in a bed of biblical morals.
This post has one modest goal, and that is to refer you to a few things that you can read to better equip your heart and mind to answer the question, “What in the world is happening?” You see, I am of the persuasion that there is a spiritual battle at play behind what is happening on stage in front of our eyes, for the author of tyranny is Satan. But the good news is that Christ is the author of salvation, and Christ aims to get all the glory by allowing the tyranny that is already in men’s hearts to reach the surface of public discourse. Then the world will know two things: that apart from God’s restraining grace man is a dictator who wants to rule over others at their expense, and secondly, that the best King of all is Christ, who rules over others at his expense.
Here are a few recommendations for your reading this year:
- “We Will Not Be Silenced” by Erwin Lutzer. The former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago surveys the landscape of the past several years here in America, summarizing what he sees as the latest confiscation of liberties and freedoms, many of which are directly aimed at biblical Christianity, and at least, any expression or views held that replicate biblical Christianity. Allegiance to Christ has always been and always will be a threat of insurrection to Caesar.
- “Fault Lines” by Voddie Baucham Jr. Here we have a very prominent black pastor and evangelist helping everyone to see that everything from the Black Lives Matter movement to the Critical Race Theory advocates, have one main objective – to silence the voices of traditional mores. Voddie is warning the Church that you stand on a fault line that may sink your church, if, you side with the latest “woke” movement in our country so that you might not be “canceled.” But the reality is that these movements instigate racism, hate, jealousy, covetousness, defiance of law-and-order, slander against the traditional family of a married man and woman with children to raise, and then attempt to silence any resistance by any means of force. They have shown their hands: it was never about justice for all or about tolerance for all, but about a complete overhaul and takeover of life in general, and of Christian life in particular.
- “Time for Truth: Living Free In A World of Lies, Hype, & Spin” by Os Guinness. This book takes a hindsight look at the Clinton Administration and its effect upon American life and it’s impact upon the Church in America. I’ll quote from the inside jacket: “One word of truth outweighs the entire world,” so said Aleksandr Solzenitsyn, the former Soviet Union’s one-man dissident movement whose courageous stand for truth helped topple his country’s machinery of propaganda, deception, and terror. But in the West today it appears that truth in any objective form is dead. At best it is relative and at worst it is created. Where does this leave us? If truth is dead and knowledge is only power, all that remains is a world of lies, hype, and spin. In Time for Truth Os Guinness goes far beyond well-worn attacks of political correctness. He shows how current assaults on truth – from the president down – have grave consequences for Western civilization and human freedom . . . Truth matters supremely, he (Guinness) says, because without truth there is no freedom. In fact, truth is freedom, and the only way to live free is to become a person of truth.”
- “Live Not By Lies: A Manual For Christian Dissidents” by Rod Dreher. Again, from the inside jacket: “Survivors of Soviet Totalitarianism Have A Warning For Us: It Can Happen Here. Over the past few years, America has seen the rise of a chilling “soft totalitarianism” – something more Brave New World than Nineteen Eighty-Four. Identity politics are beginning to encroach on every aspect of life. Progressives attempt to marginalize conservatives, traditional Christians, and other dissenters, sneering at the idea of civil liberties protecting their beliefs. Corporations now censor opinions with which they disagree. Technology is inching us toward a surveillance state, and consumerism has dulled our spirits and made us willing to accept a secularism imposed not by gulags but by “softer” means . . . Dreher amplifies the alarm and explains why it is so hard for us to recognize the threat of totalitarianism in our own time. He lays out the steps for resistance and shares stories of modern-day dissidents who preserved their faith and their integrity during a time of tyranny . . .”
I am presently preaching through the book of Daniel on Sunday mornings so that our church family will be equipped to take a stand for Christ when the magistrate, and those that the magistrate controls, attempts to silence us with threats with their soft totalitarianism. There are several other books and many videos clips that have been very helpful for me in trying to understand what in the world is going on. Thankfully, Schaeffer had my ear many years ago and to this day his words are as spot-on as ever. True, no book outside The Book is completely trustworthy. The books above are written by fallen man, as all books are. So take what is helpful and toss what is not, in your opinion. Just be sure that what you toss is non-essential to your hope in the Lord and keep what is essential. And remember, our government has already proven what they think is essential and non-essential. Keep that in mind.