This post is a little bit of a continuation of a previous post I made, but is the result of some more meditations I’ve had on the subject as of late.
When an American soldier is sworn in, he states what is called the “oath of enlistment,” which begins like this:
“I, [insert name], do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” [source]
The oath for officers is stated slightly differently than those for enlisted personnel, but both phrases are there: to “support and defend the Constitution,” and to do so against “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Foreign, of course, refers to those external threats who would seek to invade our country’s territory (such as Japan during World War II), or those who would seek to do her harm (such as Al Qaeda). Domestic, however, refers to internal enemies – those who would seek to topple the Constitutional government (such as various militias or hostile political groups) or those who would seek to harm the nation from within (like the Oklahoma City bomber).
Imagine, however, if these words concerning domestic threats meant nothing. Imagine if the military, upon hearing about a home-grown terrorist cell out in the Midwest intending to do harm to government bodies, responded with, “Well, they still love our country right?” What if they heard about a political movement that was seeking to topple the democratic government and replace it with non-Constitutional one, and responded to it with, “They’re still Americans, right? Can’t we all just get along within our country?” What if they refused to respond to threats and instead lambasted the ones warning of the threats, saying, “Why are you trying to divide our country? They love America don’t they! That should be enough!”
It’s easy for the Christian church to point out our foreign enemies. It’s easy to point to atheists, humanist secularists, and non-Christians and say “Yeah, that’s the bad guy!” It’s easy to point to atheistic, humanist secularist, or non-Christian worldviews and say “Yeah, that’s the enemy, right there!” There’s no question that attacks against Christian persons in Nigeria by Muslims or attacks against the Christian worldview by the secular media are foreign enemies.
Yet when it comes to our domestic enemies, it seems like what some churches call the “clergy of the laity” becomes the “clergy of the apathy.” We either choose not to do anything, leaving it to our leaders to handle (while not even informing them of the error), or we choose to simply say “no harm no foul.” We forgo doctrinal heresies and false teachings for superficial reasons such as “we all love Jesus” or “they aren’t hurting anybody.” We willingly submit the word of God to the whims of the devil and don’t seem to care. We wouldn’t let our daughters marry a wicked man we knew was going to hurt her and misuse her – why do we permit the word of God to be misused by wicked men?
As I’ve pointed out before on this blog, this isn’t entirely new to history. The fear of calling out the church’s domestic enemies has led to many great men of God finding themselves persecuted by supposed Christians rather than foreign enemies. It was this fear that caused Athanasius to be kicked out of his bishop position five times by the Arian-friendly church. It was this fear that caused the Monothelite-friendly church to maim (and eventually kill) Maximus the Confessor. It was this fear that caused the Roman church to excommunicate and persecute the Reformers. It was this fear that caused the Anglican church to turn on the Puritans and then the Methodists. The fact is, those who support modern day false teachers such as Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Rick Warren, Mike Bickle, Todd Bentley, William P. Young, Joel Osteen, and a host of others are simply joining the ranks of a long tradition of people in the church who forsook sound doctrine for the pleasing of their itching ears (cf. 2 Tim 4:3).
The fact is, the church does have domestic enemies, and they are still prevalent. Even during the apostolic era, Paul warned the church against contemporary domestic enemies (Gal 1:6-9) as well as future ones (Acts 20:29-30). Christ warned that on the day of judgment, He would divide the church up between the sheep and the goats – that is, true Christians and false Christians (see my post here). This latter point implies that there exist within the church today goats masquerading as sheep, which means that, even on the day of judgment, there will be false Christians. The writer of Hebrews refers to them as crops which have borne “thorns and thistles,” and who will in the end be burned (cf. Heb 6:8).
Scripture makes it clear that domestic enemies do exist, whether some Christians – supposed or true – would like to admit it. The question now is, whom do we desire to protect more: God’s word, or our superficial idea of peace and unity?