Question [composite of several, some quite angry:] Your Q&A of November ’99 (first one) proves you are not willing to be corrected....Instead of receiving correction, you say that John the Baptist “made a mistake” in reproving Herod. I sincerely believe that John the Baptist’s rebuke of Herod wasn’t a mistake....The Bible says “John fulfilled his course” (Acts:13:25)...but you say he “cut his ministry short” by a mistake. Your reasoning is totally unscriptural and absolutely absurd on this issue! John reproved and rebuked [Herod] in faithfulness to God’s command (2 Tm 4:1-5). Felix and Drusila were living in adultery. When Paul got through with Felix he trembled (Acts:24:24-25). I think, sir, that you need to repent towards God for slandering and misrepresenting none other than John the Baptist, God’s faithful servant....
I was shocked that, in defending your position regarding [non]involvement in social justice issues, you would suggest that John the Baptist may have made a mistake when he rebuked Herod....Did Elijah also make a mistake when he rebuked Ahab for his sin? As a “burning and shining light” John not only spoke, but “he being dead yet speaks” to this generation of compromisers. We need a John the Baptist who will “cry aloud, spare not...[and] show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”
You seem to be making it like it’s almost a sin to get involved in anything political...[and] to justify your point, you start by putting down a man whom Jesus considered the greatest prophet to that time, John the Baptist. You sound like Paul Crouch of TBN...saying that John the Baptist was wrong for rebuking Herod. When Scripture doesn’t say that, shouldn’t we be a little less dogmatic? You constantly put down Pope Pius XII for being silent about the Holocaust, yet you tell us to be silent! The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
You say Jesus never once rebuked Herod (or Caesar), but Luke:13:31 tells us, “The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto Him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” This proves that Jesus was not, like you said, silent on His opinion of a bad ruler. The Old Testament is full of prophets who rebuked the ruler of Israel....Why is The Berean Call’s new law “Thou shalt not get involved in politics”? Jeremiah was given authority from God “against the kings of Judah” and Micaiah and Amos rattled the cage of the big boys, risking their lives in the process.
Response: Unfortunately, in spite of several attempts, what I’ve said on this issue continues to be misunderstood. I’m accused of being “dogmatic” when in fact I said,“I’m not dogmatic and not above correction....” I’m willing to be corrected from the Bible. I appreciate your zeal, but I think you are trying to make the Bible say what it doesn’t. In the verses you cite, Paul tells Timothy to rebuke Christians, not the unsaved. Nor did Paul rebuke Felix and Drusilla. Felix trembled at the gospel, not because Paul rebuked him for living unlawfully with Drusilla. It doesn’t say Paul did that. Why not, if, as you insinuate, what John did was the norm?
Ahab was a king of Israel ruling God’s people and as such was bound to serve God; Herod was not. I agree we need to show “the house of Jacob [i.e., God’s people]” their sins. Did Elijah rebuke the godless nations surrounding the people of God? No. Then why should we?
Nor did I say John the Baptist was wrong. I raised the question, “Is it not possible that John made a mistake...?” That Christ declared, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Mt 11:11), doesn’t mean John was perfect. For example, in spite of all the evidence and his earlier confidence, he lost the assurance that Jesus was the Christ: “And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?” (Lk 7:19).
Nowhere and at no time have I said a Christian should not get involved in politics, much less that Christians should not vote, yet I’m accused of this. On the other hand, while there may be much good that could be done at lower levels such as serving on a school board, I doubt that anyone could rise very high in politics without compromising his or her Christianity or without being unequally yoked with unbelievers. The daily work by which we earn a living and the way we spend extra time is for each individual to decide before God.
Neither have I condemned social and political activism, which is the major issue we’ve discussed. I have merely pointed out four simple facts: (1) While we have both command and example in Scripture to preach the gospel, we have neither command nor example to attempt to reform society; (2) many Christians have become so obsessed with political and social activism that it has become their life’s devotion and their great hope; (3) sadly, many Christians who spend a major portion of their time and effort in addressing the evils in secular society exhibit little concern for the growing apostasy within the church or for the salvation of souls. Those who rebuke Clinton are strangely silent regarding false teachers and false prophets in the church—and even commend them; (4) we are commanded to “reprove, rebuke, exhort [the church and her leaders], with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tm 4:2); but instead, many spend their time and efforts trying to reform an ungodly society.
And is it fair to accuse me of imposing a new TBC law, “Thou shalt be silent concerning the evil in society...or, thou shalt not get involved in politics”? I haven’t told anyone to be silent or not to be involved, nor am I myself silent. Speak out in obedience to God’s Word as you understand it against the evils in society as a warning, especially to parents and youth; but don’t neglect to reprove the false teachers within the church as we are specifically commanded. We’ve dealt with the issue of Pope Pius XII: he was a leader of world stature whose public rebuke of Hitler could have had an impact such as your words or mine would not. He articulated clearly in writing to Roosevelt his objection to the Jews being allowed to return to the land God promised them; but he never sent a similar letter to Hitler objecting to his murder of the Jews.