Friday, 05 March 2021 14:49

OPINION: Christians should have no part in state's death cult

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The state is a death cult and its highest holy sacrament is war.


Theologian William Stringfellow astutely observed that the moral authority of the state is death. The state roots its power in violence, force and coercion, and ultimately, death. With this understanding, the state’s obsession with war should come as no surprise. The state drives humanity to war and feeds on the death and destruction it brings.

In his book "Conscience and Obedience," Stringfellow describes the fall as “the renunciation of life as a gift and a rejection of The Word calling life into being.

“The vocation of creation is usurped. In the fall, the reign of death is pervasive and militant, it spares no life whatever; every relationship is broken or corrupted or diminished to violence, antiworship is endemic for institutions and nations as much as persons, time means confinement to the power of death, instead of possessing dominion over creation human life is enslaved to and dominated by the rest of creation. In fallen creation, the power of death appears triumphant over the existence of this world.”

It follows that kingdoms of this world — nation-states established in a fallen world and run by fallen people — are captive to this reign of death. The Babylon parable in the Book of Revelation ascribes death as the moral reality that rules nations, and all other principalities and powers in this world. (Rev 12:7-12; 13:1-8)

Stringfellow calls the state the “preeminent principality.” (See Ephesians 6:12) He describes principalities as the “institutions, systems, ideologies, and other political and social powers — as militant, aggressive and influential creatures in the world as it is.” These entities have a life of their own — a “personality” and an individual essence.

Stringfellow writes, “Death dominates these creatures, and as the preeminent principality, death dominates all states.” In return, the state gains and maintains its power and position through its alliance with death.

“Among all the principalities, in their legion, species and diversities, the State has a particular eminence. The State, in this context, names the functional paraphernalia of political authority in a nation, which claims and exercises exclusive practical control of coercive capabilities, or violence, within a nation. The precedence of the State hierarchically among the principalities is related to the jurisdiction asserted by the state over other institutions and powers within a nation. Practically, it is symbolized by the police power, taxation, licensing, regulation of corporate organizations and activity, the military forces and the like.” 

Stringfellow doesn’t mince words. He calls these principalities “demonic.”

This dovetails with the thinking of theologian David Lipscomb who also argued that all earthly governments and the states they rule over exist on a foundation of violence. He writes, “The civil power is founded on force, lives by it and it is its only weapon of offense or defense.” States mimic the pattern of Babylon. Lipscomb notes that the first human government was called “Babel.”

“It was clearly so called, because man’s effort to govern himself brought confusion and strife. The effort by man to live without God, and to govern the world resulted in confusion and strife from the beginning. It brings strife, war and desolation still.”

Lipscomb argues that Satan ultimately controls human governments. They exist under his dominion. We catch a glimpse of this when Satan tempts Jesus by offering him “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” (Matthew 4:8-10). Satan can’t offer what he doesn’t own.

Satan is the god at the center of the death cult that is the state.

Randolph Bourne observed that “war is the health of the state.” He was making a political statement, but he swerved into a spiritual truth. The state feeds on violence and death and thus maintains and expands its power. Death nourishes the state.

And nothing brings about violence and death like war. It is the high, holy sacrament of Satan’s death cult.

Lipscomb observes, “All the wars and conflicts of earth, all the desolation, ruin and bloodshed, between separated nations, or distinct peoples, are the fruits of human governments.”

This may seem like a hyperbolic statement, but stop and think about it. Why would you want to take up arms against people in Iraq if the U.S. government didn’t tell you Iraqis were your enemy? Lipscomb contends that we might get into local or perhaps regional conflicts without nation-states and human governments, but we wouldn’t launch into wholesale warfare against people we don’t even know.

“The people of Maine and Texas, of England and India, could never become enemies or be involved in strife and war, save through the intervention of human government to spread enmity and excite to war. Individuals in contact might, through conflict of interest, or personal antipathy, become embittered, and engage in war with each other, but distinct nations or peoples could have no strife save as they should be excited and carried on by these human governments.”

Theologian Karl Barth called Satan “death incarnate.” Given that he ultimately controls all earthly kingdoms, their lust for war makes perfect sense. And as the governments of these earthly kingdoms stir up our bloodlust and drive us toward war, they gain even more power and control in the process. As Bourne asserts, war is indeed the health of the state.

“The moment war is declared, however, the mass of the people, through some spiritual alchemy, become convinced that they have willed and executed the deed themselves. They then, with the exception of a few malcontents, proceed to allow themselves to be regimented, coerced, deranged in all the environments of their lives, and turned into a solid manufactory of destruction toward whatever other people may have, in the appointed scheme of things, come within the range of the Government’s disapprobation. The citizen throws off his contempt and indifference to Government, identifies himself with its purposes, revives all his military memories and symbols, and the State once more walks, an august presence, through the imaginations of men. Patriotism becomes the dominant feeling, and produces immediately that intense and hopeless confusion between the relations which the individual bears and should bear toward the society of which he is a part.”

Ultimately, this entire vicious cycle drives us down a spiraling path toward death. And that is the ultimate goal of the Prince of Death.

As followers of the Prince of Peace, we should reject this entire paradigm. As Lipscomb writes, “The government of God breaks down divisions among those who accept it, and brings peace and complete union to all who submit to his rule.”

Why then are so many Christians so eager for war? Why are people who claim to worship the Lord of Life bowing at the altar of a death cult? Why do they salute the war banners, stand for the war anthems, and cheer in awe for the war machines? Why do they set the men and women who drag us into these cesspools of death and destruction upon pedestals of honor? They are literally partnering with the Lord of Darkness against the Prince of Life.

Lipscomb wrote, “Whatever tends to wean men (and women) from this government of God, and to substitute other governments for it, brings confusion and strife.”

Sadly, most of us rarely see the fruits of our faithlessness to the Prince of Peace and our devotion to the God of War. But it’s there, hidden in the shadows. In solemn rows of tombstones on quiet grassy hills. In the broken bodies and minds of young men and women sent to do the politicians’ bidding. In orphaned children and heartbroken widows.

These are the legacy of a death cult that is alive and well. Christians should have no part of it.

Michael Maharrey is communications director of the Tenth Amendment Center and founder of GodArchy.org. Republished from GodArchy.org