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Burning Down the House: How to Put out the Fire of Christian Cancel Culture

In their 1983 song Burning Down the House, the American Rock Band, Talking Heads, sang, “Watch out you might get what you’re after…”

Today’s evangelical talking heads are burning down the house by tossing every sinner they can find out of Christian orthodoxy. And I’m afraid, if things don’t change, they might just get what they’re after.

Based on a True Story

One of his final orders was to order a hit on his own cousin. Not to say his cousin didn’t have it coming. It just meant one more body to pile up in quite the pile of bodies. You might even call him the oppressor of a people group. That’s what the songs indicate anyway. David has slain his tens of thousands.

He had at least eight wives. Not like Adoniram Judson marrying three separate times because his first two wives died. No, David had at least eight wives simultaneously. Oh, and he also had at least ten concubines – women with whom he slept though they did not have the same status as a wife.

Of course, I haven’t mentioned Bathsheba yet, but in a way she’s not even too necessary for this post. Yes, David had an adulterous affair with her and yes he had her husband Uriah killed. But he repented of that, asking the Lord to create with in him a clean heart (Psalm 51:10).

But the multiple wives and concubines and other killings – we never see him repudiate those. I’m not saying some of the killings weren’t righteous. They certainly were. At the same time, the Lord says to David in 1 Chronicles 22:8, “You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth.”

He also lied a couple times that we know about. He intentionally gave Ahimelech the wrong information. And he acted insane when he fled to Gath.

And we haven’t even gotten to his children yet. One of his sons raped one of his daughters. Another son led a rebellion against him. And the son to succeed him as king ended up with 700 wives. All of these sins can in part be attributed to David’s own sins and shortcomings.

Anyway, this is the side of David you might not have caught on Veggie Tales. The David’s life too many get is simply “based on a true story” instead of the actual story of this man of God. But before you go out and cancel him, you need to remember a few things.

The Holy Spirit used David to write at least half the psalms. I say at least half because if Psalm 119 can be attributed to him then he wrote over half the psalms as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. God called him a man after His own heart (cf. Acts 13:22). Further, God gave him the promise of a Son to reign and God maintained that promise long after David’s death citing often “for the sake of David my servant” (cf. Isaiah 37:35).

In fact, the Lord was so bold as to say that David, “kept my commandments and my statutes” (1 Kings 11:34).

Read the Bible (Really)

I’m not sure if you’ll find all the things I’ve listed about David in the WV translation of the Bible (Woke Version). At least, if it is, I must call them out for their inconsistency since, to my knowledge, there are not woke-vangelicals calling for the canceling of David.

I’m sure they would say something like, “He was a product of his times.” Or maybe, “What would you have done had you been in his place?”

Toss Broadus’s gavel. Bid farewell to Edwards. Remove Boyce’s name from the streets and lips of everything and everyone Southern Baptist. Tear down Whitefield’s statue. But David, the concubine hoarding, blood spilling, Philistine oppressing, foreskin hacking, polygamous descendant of Judah – he’s alright (and boy, Judah’s another story too! And how about his dad, Jacob? Maybe for another post).

Why is he alright? Oh, because the Bible says so. I wonder if we are meant to take this truth and apply it to believers of all time, or if only David – oh and Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Peter, Noah, Lot, and every other sinner in the Bible – gets a pass.

Perhaps – and just go with me here – the Lord would have us open our eyes to His Word rather than the godless ideologies of the age? What I mean is, if we don’t open our eyes wide to the Scriptures before trying to open them to the peril of our own age, we will assess the current cultural moment woefully inadequately, and offer up the wrong solution.

When we read the Bible carefully we see the drunkenness of Noah, the adultery of David, and the cowardice of Peter (more than once, by the way). But when we extol those men, we are not extolling drunkenness, adultery, or cowardice. We are extolling God’s great grace in their lives as well as learning the righteous things from their lives that we too should emulate.

And likewise, when we extol Broadus or Boyce – or boy, dare I say Thomas Jackson –  we are not extolling racism or slavery. We are grateful for God using seriously flawed men by His grace.

Sanctified Not Sanitized

When 21st-century evangelicals look down from their ivory towers to judge the sins of our forefathers saying “farewell” to Edwards, or throwing away gavels, or generally just dismissing the orthodoxy of faithful men it reveals 3 things:

  1. They are caught up in the current cultural revolution.

This revolution has no atonement. It has rules that cannot be kept and standards constantly changing. There is no ultimate hope, forgiveness, or reconciliation. Its end leads ultimately to death. In many ways, it is an anti-gospel.

The reason brothers and sisters are calling out the sins of slave owners pushing those names to the side while continuing to embrace men like Luther and his anti-Semitism, seems like nothing more than trying to find themselves on “the right side of history.”

It’s awfully inconsistent, for example, to call out men, like Edwards and Whitefield, who did (wrongfully) participate in chattel slavery but did also argue for the fair treatment and evangelism of slaves, but not call out present Christians advocating for the election of a Democrat as president (in both 2016 and 2020) when the platform explicitly states, “We believe unequivocally…that every woman should have access to…safe and legal abortion.”

  1. They have no concept of the pervasiveness of their own remaining sin.

There comes a time to call out people’s sins. And we, rightly, call out the wickedness of chattel slavery. It was wrong for otherwise faithful men to embrace and/or perpetuate the practice.

And yet, I have often wondered what the church in 500 years might say about me. Well, not me – they won’t know my name. But what about today’s “heroes”? Each age has its own blind spots. Certainly, some are more serious and detrimental than others, but remaining sin remains sin nonetheless.

Before burning down the houses of those long dead and gone, perhaps we would be better served to get our own house in order. The evangelical elites are laughing at the nakedness of their forefathers while clothed in the finest tapestry fig leaves have to offer.

  1. They have no concept of the magnitude of God’s Grace.

One of Luther’s famous phrases was, simul justus et peccator – which means “simultaneously justified and sinner.” That can be applied to all the saints in Scripture. Every person from Genesis to Revelation who was saved was saved by grace through faith. And though they were justified by the merits of Christ’s righteousness, they remained sinners.

I don’t know why God allowed David to have so many wives and concubines. I suppose one reason may be actually for the protection of women in such an age. And I don’t know why God allowed chattel slavery. I won’t even speculate here. But I will say what certain men mean for evil, God is able to use for good for those who love Him, for those who have been called according to His purpose.

The Holy Spirit of God sanctifies His people. But He does not sanitize them. Meaning, our pasts remain our pasts – from a historical perspective that is. And our sins continue to show up from time to time, even though we’ve been born again. I’m not advocating for statues and monuments so much as I am advocating for a proper understanding of the Christian faith.

Tearing Down the Cross

Do not think for a moment that there is nothing sinister about ridding ourselves of men like Broadus, Whitefield, and Edwards. The end goal is not merely ridding us of these men, but of their theology; a robust Calvinism; a theology that holds a high view of God and a low view of man. But most importantly, the woke movement as a whole would rid us of the theology of the cross.

I don’t mean to say that every woke-vangelical is openly pushing this (not yet anyway). But as a whole, the so-called “social justice” movement only has crucifixions, but no atonement. Today, it’s just “Hey let’s remove these wicked slave owners from your house.” But in the morning, you’ll see the gospel was conveniently boxed up and pulled out too.

You see, for Christians, there is an advocate before the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. Meaning you and I aren’t righteous in and of ourselves. This doesn’t mean we don’t call out one another’s sins. Of course, we do. It’s why the faithful have repudiated slavery for a long while now. And it’s why we have said, “Yes, Edwards, et al, were sinners.”

And so are we. And so will be the next generation of Christians. And if 21st-century evangelicals continue to go around canceling sinners, it won’t be long until we are all canceled into oblivion. And this makes a mockery of Christianity.

 

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