“The Enemy in the Church”
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The Church has always been under attack. Revelation 12 paints a picture of a dragon pursuing a woman on the earth. The vision includes Satan being cast down to earth. It continues with Satan’s attempts to destroy the Messiah followed by Satan’s ongoing pursuit of those who are in Christ, the Church. “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.” (Revelation 12:17)
Satan’s attack will continue until Christ returns. Perhaps after reading this you may think that I am being harsh or possibly using hyperbole. Yet, I am reflecting on what I am seeing in the Universal Church. My purpose is to shine a light on what I believe is a dangerous situation that left unchecked will damage the purity and witness of the Church. I love the Church as all believers do because the invisible Church is the body of Christ for which He died, Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:25.
In general, when an attack comes the first thing to do is identify and assess the enemy. The Bible declares, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) The enemy is not seen but is extremely powerful. The ultimate enemy is Satan and all his minions. Of course, these spiritual forces become visible in the world as they motivate the thoughts and actions of men. The Church’s only hope is “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10)
The current attack is seen through men promoting a cultural movement within the church. The increase of the movement’s popularity in the Church is concerning. The movement is called the social justice movement. Those who promote it are often referred to as social justice warriors. The movement is not concerned about justice. And its warriors’ goal is equity, that is, equity as defined by them. Their goal of equity is achieved by pitting two groups against each other. One group is called “white privilege”. This group is the oppressor group. Certain others, like some minorities, women, LGBTQIA+ are the oppressed. In more conservative circles in the Church, the equity issue centers on a movement called “racial reconciliation”. Again, the issue is not about race or reconciliation. It is not about racism. It is about equity.
All of these movements originated in what began in the 80’s within law schools and sociology departments in Universities. It is called the “Critical Race Theory”. This theory proposes that within the western world, systemic racism has been built into Western Culture by White males. Some leaders in the Church have bought this philosophy. The Critical Race Theory of the 80’s had its foundation in a social construct that existed long before the 1980’s namely Marxism.
Social justice warriors in the Church make virtue assessments based on whether there are people of color in the local church or programs designed to “reconcile” the races, etc. They are heard to say, ”This is a gospel issue!”
There is a question that the Church must ask. “What saith the Scriptures?” First, racism is a sin, James 2:1. James uses the term “partiality”. Second, if within a church a member acts as a racist, Church Discipline must be exercised. For the sake of the purity and witness of the Church, sin must be confronted, Matthew 18. Thirdly, the Bible only defines one race. It is called the human race. Concerning the human race, there are only two membership designations. One is either in Adam or in Christ, Romans 5, and God through Christ was reconciling the world to Himself, 2Corinthians 5:19.
All of this being said, the enemy in the Church is the Culture. Surely, the spiritual forces of evil, Satan, et.al. are behind this enemy. But we are faced every day with the tendency to embrace the culture in the Church in the guise of being relevant.
I close with a paraphrase of a famous saying. The place for the ship is in the sea but God help the ship if the sea gets in it. Likewise the place for the Church is in the world but God help the Church if the world gets in her.