Craige McMillan, Novelist ©2018. Armageddon Story. Reader's page.
Dispatches Across Eternity. A novelist looks at Earth's Final Kingdom.

Cleveland, Republicans...

And a Tale of Two Churches

by Craige McMillan
Cleveland, Republicans, and a tale of two churches

by Craige McMillan

The Republicans gathering in Cleveland for their convention will be spared a billboard advertising the DVD release of "God's Not Dead 2." Orange Barrel Media thought the image of a woman standing near a quote, "I'd rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God," too incendiary.

Instead, Orange Barrel opted to give the space to the atheists, who put up a truncated quote from Ronald Reagan to remind the the Republicans they couldn't establish a state religion. Apparently, the atheists already have, which is why they are worried.

They needn't have worried about the Republicans, who have stood proudly for anything the Democrats have allowed them to stand for since at least the days of LBJ and the roots of the Great Society.

I haven't seen "God's Not Dead," one or two, so I don't know if either film would suddenly transform mild-mannered Republicans into flame-throwing, anti-abortionist jihadists. I suspect, not.

Not ones to gamble, however, the atheists managed to get thirty billboards around the Democratic convention reminding them not to establish a state religion, either. I'd say unless the proposed deity was Obama or Hillary Clinton, that worry is…well, wasted.

The responses of the nation's Christian churches, however, are of more interest to me. Broadly speaking, I see three responses. The Catholics try to work within the bureaucracy, perhaps because Rome has a bureaucracy of its own and they have found some success working the secular bureaucracy. The mainline Christian churches have broadened their faith to include anyone who will drop a check into the collection plate. Evangelical Christians have mobilized their mighty army of church goers and made a lot of noise, but with little lasting impact on the culture.

Really, I have no idea what the atheists are worried about. Unless it's God, himself?

Too often, we as Christians get caught up in our projects to improve the world, and when we run into problems or roadblocks, that's when we ask God for help. I know that many Christians have been praying for years that God would heal our broken culture and restore godly leadership to our nation. That's a good thing, and I happen to believe that He's answering that prayer right now. Just not in the way that we expect.

As I've been slowly absorbed into the novel series that I have been writing for the last few years, I have become very skeptical that the early Christian church grew only because of sermons of suffering in this world and reward in the next that we hear today. That's why I've written something different.

I think the early church was a bit closer to God than we are. In my lifetime as a Christian I haven't heard much preaching from the Book of Acts. So, to make up for that deficit, here is a passage from Acts for you to consider. The setting is Peter and John arrested by the Jews for street preaching about Jesus. They were hauled in for questioning by the authorities, who were very surprised at the answers they got. Chapter 4:13-14 (HCSB) reads:

When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in response.

So they threatened them and threw them out. Then Peter and John held a prayer meeting (Acts 4:23-31 HCSB):

After they were released, they went to their own people and reported everything the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they all raised their voices to God and said, "Master, You are the One who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them. You said through the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David Your servant:

Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples plot futile things?
The kings of the earth took their stand
and the rulers assembled together
against the Lord and against His Messiah.

"For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with complete boldness, while You stretch out Your hand for healing, signs, and wonders to be performed through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God's message with boldness.

That sounds more like the church that overran the Roman empire. It almost seems that our prayers today are more along the lines of, "God, please make the billboard company take our money so we can advertise a movie about you not being dead at the Republican convention."

I imagine the response: "Do you want me to just show them I'm still alive? Would you like me to shake the building? Fill it with the Holy Spirit?"

"Uh, I don't know, God. That sounds pretty incendiary. We don't want to cause any problems. Could we just put the billboard up?"

The full Reagan quote is: "We establish no religion in this country. We command no worship. We mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are and must remain separate." I can see why they truncated it they way they did.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia


Pen graphic for contacting novelist Craige McMillan, creator of the Armageddon Story; Judgment, Interrupted novel series

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