No, Western Christians Are Not In Exile

"Occupation has many advantages over exile as an organizing metaphor for ministry, but I will enumerate only two." - C.Today

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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They're kind of buried in the piece, but the author has a solid point or two.

I've been struggling for a name for the mindset I keep encountering in my circles--a mindset at odds with my own--one that speaks of our times as dire and catastrophic and speaks of government locally or nationally (whenever the left is perceived to be dominant) as something wholly sinister, secretive, and hostile to Christianity.

There's definitely a 'we're in exile' component to it, and I definitely don't see the role of Christians and the church in the world that way. 

So I appreciate this:

Peter’s advice to believers living as “foreigners and exiles” was addressed to a church under occupation. He was not content for them to simply settle down and plant gardens (Jer. 29:4-7) or “sing the songs of Zion” (Ps. 137:3-4) until Cyrus’s liberating decree—much like those waiting on a sweet chariot to carry them home to heaven. Rather we are called to be on mission and “live such good lives among the pagans that … they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Pet. 2:11-25).

We should stop mourning what we've lost, accept the reality of where we are as a culture now, and ask how to be faithful as Christians and as the church going forward. "Occupation" mindset is better than "exile" mindset, as far as it goes.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Dan Miller's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
...I appreciate this:

Peter’s advice to believers living as “foreigners and exiles” was addressed to a church under occupation. ...

This shows that it's just quibbling over words. Peter used the term "exile" and even there, Jacob seems to be telling Peter that the proper term was "occupation." 

Fine, whatever. I'm inclined to agree, though. Daniel was in exile. He had no option but to be educated by the Babylonians. We're not there...yet. We have Christian schools and Christian colleges.

Our secular colleges, however, are squarely anti-Christian. Will there come a day when anti-Christian teaching is mandated and schools that refuse to tell boys they are girls get shut down? 

This article, by arguing for "occupation" over "exile," is part pointless quibbling and part representing something significant as insignificant or less significant.

Is is profitable for us to be looking at the liberal changes around us and saying, "Things aren't so bad - don't use THAT word."? 

I see socialism and woke-ism in general as anti-Christian. It is right and good for Christian teachers to attempt to wake people up to the changes that are happening and to motivate Christians to do their duty as citizens to work against those changes. 

That's how this article struck me. Maybe we shouldn't say "at war." But overall that sort of thing seems to minimize the dangers that we face and the way we should be active against these evils.

Aaron Blumer's picture

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I see an awful lot of 'active in the wrong ways.' For God's people, the struggle--regardless of geography or culture or political structure--has always occurred mainly within: how well do we understand the Scriptures? How well do we understand our times and how to live the Scriptures in them? What are the dangers to our own beliefs, values, and will?

The piece I struggle with a lot these days is hard to capture in concise language. "Exile" vs. "occupation" helps some. I get the feeling that many Christians do not see themselves as humans first and those around them as fellow humans, and then see themselves as 'humans who are born again' second. Though we have a completely different relationship with God and a very different nature, we're still more like unbelievers than not, by virtue of being human--and not a one of us fully sanctified.

So I see expressions of the problem in "the only way to help anyone at all or help society at all is to get people saved" language, as an example--as though a human can't help a human thrive in ordinary human ways. Extrapolate that out to whole societies. I believe in common grace and natural theology. They are both limited, obviously, but we haven't done ourselves a favor neglecting them so much for so long.

Ironically, many of the same people who say social decline can only be helped by more conversions are the same ones who think we have to get anti-abortion policy done, and at any ethical cost. So only revival can make any difference but we better pass laws that force ... a difference.  I guess I wish if we're going to be self-contradictory in this part of our worldview, we'd weight persuasion over coercion. But if only conversions help, there's no point in doing anything else but preaching. Forget voting, forget better judges, forget better laws.

On the other hand, if we're going to concede that society can be improved by means other than evangelism, the next question is, well what's most helpful then? Do we believe that only behavior can be changed in the unbelieving population? Then why post billboards with pro-life messages on them or demonstrate at clinics?

I think we know deep down that the unregenerate masses can be more or less possessed of truth, can change their minds about things--some of them really important things--and can experience changes in values, priorities, and commitments.    Because deep down we know they're human like us.

But we have a lot of rhetoric that denies this.   I'd love to see us get actions, messaging, and beliefs all in sync. In other words, lets close the gaps in our worldview.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Joeb's picture

I just read an article about whether Liberty University regarding will survive its scandals.The current Temp Liberty University President has already said we need to back Donald Trump at all costs. At the same time another young lady joined the Lawsuit of now 24 young ladies against Liberty. She is saying just last year Liberty submarined her campus rape allegation.  THAT DOES NOT BODE WELL FOR MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. No wonder Non Believers hate us.  We will be exiled in America and we deserve it.  Liberty University calls themselves Champions For Christ.  That's a lie.  
 

At this point our influence in Society is in the toilet. Now attacking Disney World in Florida and Sean Feutch doing his usual for Trump holding one of his Gospel Concerts and attacking Disney World at Disney and trying to raise money for all their Fine Patriots and Political Prisoners in DC.  Sorry guys that's unacceptable to me considering those so-called Patriots beat the heck out of my Federal Law Enforcement Brothers and Sisters to the point that 60 are maimed for life and they caused 5 more to die.for a TRUMP lie.  I'm not in with any Evangelical Church not calling out that sin very publicly. In fact I'm probably going to leave the Evangelical.church and migrate toward a Mainline Church. At least they care about their fellow Human Beings vs toss the gay abominations in jail but God forbid we send a Pedoe Pastor to jail whose victims are church members. 
 

If we want to walk before our Lord and change hearts and minds for Christ the Church we in unison need  to denounce Donald Trump and the Christian Right. If not all of it is a waste of time because a lot of the White Evangelical Church is only interested in making Donald their Putin and they are going to do it by hook or crook or by the barrel of a gun.
 

It's called doing the right thing then we can try to change our society and concentrate on changing hearts and minds through Christ and move to an occupation mind set to get to work.  I believe 1st Corinthians 5 Paul clearly spells it out. Deal with the sin in the church first and the sin of non believers is none of our business. It's God's.  Considering Rome practiced baby and adult human sacrifices to their pagan Gods Paul was under no different Government then we are today.  No matter what the fools say about the deep state nonsense.  
 

Gotta love John MacArthur and this is only one of many allegations against him. One of John MacArthur's Pastors confessed to John MacArthur that he was sexually abusing his own daughter.  There is an eye witness to this confession. Mac Arthur then goes on to cover it up.  The Dude goes out and kidnaps a child and does sexually horrendous things to her which later results in him getting 60 years in prison.  John MacArthur is PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT HAPPENING PERIOD AND MUCH MORE   JOHN MACARTHUR IS A CRIMINAL  

I truly believe if we continue this CULTURAL WAR TO GREAT ABSURDITY and don't clean up our own house first as Paul has commanded the Lord's judgement is coming for American Evangelicals first and then our nation. Both sides are involved in sin just different sins. The Christian Right lies about everything to try to  accomplish their so-called Godly goals.  Proof CAUTHORNE MADISON GREENE LAUREN BOEBERT MATTHEW GATEZ ETC.  They all claim to know our Lord and they are just as whacky corrupt and sinful as the Squad. I believe 1st Corinthians 5 backs my position BIBLICALLY. 

Jay's picture

They'll never repent, Joeb.  They need the culture war to maintain their positions of power and influence on American Evangelicalism.  There is only judgment to come - on believers first and then the nation.

As to Occupied / Exile = we can quibble semantics but this world is not our home, and the sooner we get that through our heads and start living as pilgrims/sojourners here (as Aaron alluded to as well as Peter and the writer of Hebrews), the better off we will all be.  The NT is clear on this.

BTW, there is a great book on this subject if anyone is interested: "The Church in Exile" by Lee Beach. I highly recommend it.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Joeb's picture

[quote=Jay]

They'll never repent, Joeb.  They need the culture war to maintain their positions of power and influence on American Evangelicalism.  There is only judgment to come - on believers first and then the nation.

As to Occupied / Exile = we can quibble semantics but this world is not our home, and the sooner we get that through our heads and start living as pilgrims/sojourners here (as Aaron alluded to as well as Peter and the writer of Hebrews), the better off we will all be.  The NT is clear on this.

BTW, there is a great book on this subject if anyone is interested: "The Church in Exile" by Lee Beach. I highly recommend it.

Jay my brother pointed the same thing out to me.  To many believers are to heavily invested in making this world their heaven.  My brother as an SBC Pastor had people in his church pretty much held that position.  One lady believed that haven would be her with all the members of her family living in Southern bliss. My brother asked if they were all saved and she said no so my brother pointed out that those family members would not be with her unless they were saved.  The Lady responded then I don't want that heaven.  
 

Aaron Blumer's picture

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Jay wrote:

They'll never repent, Joeb.  They need the culture war to maintain their positions of power and influence on American Evangelicalism.  There is only judgment to come - on believers first and then the nation.

I'm not sure who "they" is here. Lots of culture warriors are sincere people with passionate convictions about what helps people (this is true at every point on the political/social spectrum from far left to far right, thoug I think it gets very thin the further you go from the middle).

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.