My column, “Catholics Defy ObamaCare! What About Fundamentalist Churches and Universities?” caused a stir in some circles. Will Christian leaders decide to fraternize with the enemy by killing innocent babies, or fall on their swords by closing their ministries, or fight to the very end by operating illegally in storefronts or darkened basements? They will do one of the three.
The fraternizers will be promoted (but should be pitied); those who fall on their swords (seeking some credibility by not joining the enemy or identifying with the “fighters”) will be praised and those who fight and disobey the law and operate in the shadows will be prosecuted, shunned, and hated.
I responded to one of my critics who thought that standing on principle by refusing to obey the law, did more harm to the cause of Christ than fighting to the end. He suggested, as many will do, to choose another battlefield, surrendering to Obama and going along in order to get along. I do not think that is scriptural.
He mentioned “a mighty church in Indianapolis that stood on principle and refused to act as a tax collector.” He had most of his facts straight but not all. That church was the Indianapolis Baptist Temple, identified as the eleventh largest church in America in the 1970s. It was pastored by Dr. Greg Dixon and his son, Greg A. Dixon, long time personal friends. I have preached there numerous times over the past fifty years.
The Dixons and the church have been maligned for many years by uninformed critics who were often motivated by envy, jealousy, anger, fear, and other hidden emotions and motives. And alas, too many were of our own spiritual family–fundamental Baptists! Most Indiana pastors stood in safe shadows while the Dixons and others fought the battle and alas, many AWOL pastors were not saddened when the feds in jackboots (what are jackboots anyway?) played their hand.
The Dixons were accused of not paying church-owed taxes (FICA) but that is simply not true. All taxes were paid by the ministers, associates, and teachers, my youngest daughter one of them. The federal thugs at the IRS did not like the fact that the church refused to be a tax collector. So, federal agents during George W. Bush’s administration, under orders of an active Christian Attorney General William Ashcroft, raided the church, carried out the worshippers, and bulldozed the huge, beautiful auditorium. That was a first in American History and a stain on our national flag.
My critic has every right to believe that the leaders chose to fight on the wrong battlefield; but I question his wisdom in doing so. He opined, “Being forced to provide insurance coverage for abortion, or being forced to be a tax collector, is a violation of religious liberty, but it is not a sin to be victimized. It is nowhere near denying Christ.” But the church leaders saw the issue as a matter of the lordship of Christ. To surrender to the government was a surrender of Christ being Head of His church. Contrary to what the critic wrote, it would have been exactly that: a denial of Christ’s lordship.
My critic wrote, “Blaming the victim, or demanding that the victim fall on his sword and leave the field of battle rather than tolerate any violation of religious liberty, only makes things easier for the enemies of Christ.” But I don’t blame the victim; I blame the intrusive government officials who reject, ridicule, and rip the U.S. Constitution and are sworn enemies of everything holy. Moreover a vital principle is if the government can control a ministry in small matters, they can control it in big matters. The safe, sensible, and scriptural thing to do is not submit to any control–period.
To make an important correction, it is impossible to “fall on [your] sword and leave the field of battle.” If you fall on your sword, you don’t leave the field of battle. (Talk to King Saul!) Some Christian leaders will join the enemy and support Obama; other leaders, after an effort to resist, will close their ministries thereby falling on their sword in their fight for principle and therefore will give up any effectiveness. The highly principled will fight on, undercover if necessary, without succumbing to the enemy or committing spiritual and organizational suicide.
Catholic leaders have declared that they will close their ministries rather than obey big government. Most Protestants and Baptists have been very silent to make a commitment. I do not agree that “falling on the sword” will make it easier for the enemies of Christ. I think it will be devastating for the world to see principled people give up everything except their faith in Christ. However, it will be much better to fight rather than close up shop.
Finally, my correspondent wrote, “Today, who even remembers what church I’m talking about? They could still be winning souls. Instead they are forgotten, just like all who fall on their swords will be.” Evidently, he is not cognizant of what has happened in the past twenty-five years although he chose to write about it. The Indianapolis Baptist Temple did not cease to exist. They staggered for a while without a permanent place to meet but persisted and a few years ago moved farther south to a much better location near Interstate 65 and have a huge, beautiful building. Their leader is Greg A. Dixon, son of the pastor who led them in their struggle. They are still “winning souls” and have an outreach like few churches, having started 18 churches in Indianapolis, plus foreign missions work typical of all good churches.
The Dixons and other church leaders did not “fall on their swords” but rather continued the fight another day and have been wielding their Excaliburs very effectively all over the world. Will present-day Christian leaders join the enemy cause or fall on their swords ending their effectiveness, or fight to the very end? Modern Christians should have the attitude of Spartan Greeks whose mothers told their soldier-sons to fight until they were victorious or be carried home on their shields!
I will not fraternize with the enemy, fall on my sword, but will fight to the end.
I will not surrender to the enemy (Obama and his lackeys) nor commit suicide by willingly closing down my ministry, but I will fight on to an ignominious defeat or glorious victory.
Either defeat or victory will be, in the end, an eternal victory.