Posted by David
Any of our readers of this blog will notice that my dad (Mike) and I come from very different perspectives. But I must say, it’s been a great joy to blog with him on this site.
That said, I’ve been reading 2 Thessalonians. It’s a very interesting letter written by Paul warning the church to not to be deceived or be unsettled about the coming of the “man of lawlessness.” This is a particularly important letter for Christians today, because some churches are always looking for the antichrist and some are even being deceived by charasmatic cult of personality. Now, I do believe that man’s relationship with God will one day be restored and sin will be abolished from the earth. How that happens and when that occurs is not something we are not privy to and should not consume our thoughts. We are told to stand firm and pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So, here’s the passage of interest to me recently:
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
2 Thessalonians 2: 1-4
What’s particularly interesting is the idea of the “rebellion.” What is the rebellion? Do we see it today? These days, whenever I seek to understand something from the scriptures deeply, I first look in myself, my heart, my experience, and the things I know best (or think I know best). In my life, my times of rebellion have been when I have had unbridled freedom.
In our minds, we always have conflicting thoughts and choices (Mike wrote about that yesterday with regards to decision-making). At a conscious or unconscious level we weigh those choices and make a decision. What is important is how we make the choice. Sometimes we choose based on our moral standards. Sometimes we make the choice based on which part of our body or soul screams the loudest: stomach, groins, comfort, fears, instinct, etc. If our will chooses to go with the loudest, we can get ourselves in trouble. I’ll call this the democracy of the will.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter that much. I’m hungry, so I eat a meal. But if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you know where this has gone wrong at times in your life. But what does this have to do with the “rebellion” that Paul writes about? I’m coming to think that this rebellion is simply the political state we call democracy. A republic is just a modified form of democracy, but a democracy still. In a republic, the democratic process chooses leaders and the same process makes decisions in the congress or parliament. The only non-democratic part of our particular form of government is the president, but certainly he is subject to the democratic pressures of his advisors.
In the West this democratic process began with rebellion, and arguably, it began as early or earlier with the Renaissance and the Reformation. Only now are we seeing it sweep across the Middle East. Please don’t think that I think any other particular government is benign. They are all filled with injustice, because man and his cravings and powerlust is inherently unjust. Thus, all governments have differing aspects of injustice upon which they paw.
But democracy in general may be the final stage of the succession of types of government. The age of democracy and the period of human history it spreads before us is unique and may very well be the rebellion of which Paul warns us. The only worthy government is the Kingdom of Heaven with Christ as our King.
It reminds me of those who say that “Freedom has a price.” If just one innocent man, woman or child dies, if just one person is tortured for that kind of freedom, it’s not a freedom with which I wish to engage. That type of freedom and the democracy at its base is a deception. Freedom is an ideal that is only possible when the human will is bound to goodness and love. That day will come.