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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Very Right Response to the Problem!!!, July 8, 2003
This review is from: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Church (Paperback)
Some earlier reviews of this work by Dean Merrill actually miss the point. It is not a call to be more docile, or even should be used by "humanists," but, in fact, it is a rallying call to help Christians understand their historical and biblical call to their culture.
Dean Merrill speaks with authority. He spent 32 years in the Christian media, and the focus of this book is, "...about living out our convictions in a Christ-like manner instead of bullying our way into the system like any other loud and selfish government lobby."
He uses biblical history - prophets such as Jonah and Elijah to make his point, as well as Ahab and Jezebel as analogies. He states that a "culture war" model has limitations, and head-on confrontations are external and do not make the opponents want to change. He writes that you cannot shout people into holiness. Then he points to the early church -
"Whatever early believers thought and did about Caligula's disgraceful antics, it wasn't considered significant enough to make it into Luke's history. What was the early Christian reacion to Nero? What was their view of an immature, immoral, ruthless megalomaniac at the head of their government? Paul said that 'prayers and thanksgiving be given for...kings and all those in authority.'"
"Christians are engaged in titanic struggles," he writes, and it is primarily against flesh and blood. The enemies have names, phone numbers, faxes, and photos. But the Apostle Paul and other apostles seem to stand quietly by, wishing we would realize that the Christians' real enemies are Satan and his minions.
Merrill writes that frontal resistance to evil regimes does not always win the day, and that the view of the 1st century church was to trust in the All Powerful One. The Christ-Following Minority has no choice but to understand the present reality - "there is no moral majority," and he points to some interesting facts, that in the 1760's, 1 out of 3 babies were conceived out of wedlock, and pre-marital sex was alive and booming.
In his analysis, he points out four reactions to minority status that Christians exhibit - Anxiousness, apathy, anger, and apologetics. He states that the more we sidetrack ourselves with doing the job we prefer, trying to get non-Christian neighbors and acquaintances to act Christianly without the divine life of Christ inside, the more time and energy we waste. And he provides examples - biblical examples - such as Daniel, Esther, young Jesus, and the early church and New Testament leaders.
This is compelling reading, and a little later in the book, he points out that the Founding Fathers of our country gave very little official favor or protection to Christianity. They set religion on its own in a free society to make its own mark, win its own converts, and pay its own bills.
He writes, "Our society is a post-Christian one, and has been for more than 300 years - circa 1684. The King of England finally revoked the Massachusetts Bay Colony Charter and installed his own governor and opened up voting to every land owner (white male, that is), whether they were Congregationalist, Anglican, Quaker, Jew, or even infidel. This meant the end of 'The Righteous Empire' for the Puritan leaders for the preceding 64 years, and it was partly their fault, because they'd already given up on of their core values back in 1657 with the adoption of 'Halfway Covenant' - people could join the church without a personal confession of faith."
Merrill then quotes Richard J. Mouw, who states "I am wary of efforts to establish Laws whose primary purpose is to force non-Christians to conform to Christian sexual norms," and I wholeheartedly agree with him.
As the book comes to an end, Dean Merrill has chapters dealing with the news media, and What Does the Lord Require, as well as How to truly change a culture, and he lists these five things:
-Calm Down;
-Major on the Majors;
-Appreciate the difference between Statute and Stigma;
-Keeping Looking for Allies;
-Be prepared to Lose, because sometimes even then you can win.
This is a provocative book, intended for those who Think and wish to apply the ideas within. Not everyone will agree with some of his premises. There are those in the Christian community, I am sad to say, who really want to shove the Truth down the throats of those who disagree with them, as well as try to take over the power bases of government, society, culture, and the church. We need to be wary of these, no matter what they call themselves, or even the rhetoric they espouse, even if it is politically, theologically, militarily, or culturally correct. Fascism has a friendly face in the beginning, until most of the freedoms of a land are gone. We'd best beware.
A great book. Read it and think. If it makes sense, lend to a friend, and keep it going. We might yet save the church from the church, and help it to be "pure and holy in the sight of God."
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Location: Winchendon, MA United States

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