CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Wanted: Heroes For Dark Times

Dec 30, 2018

In ordinary times we can get by with ordinary men – and women. But we no longer live in ordinary times. We live in extraordinarily dark and evil times. And during such times the ordinary will just not cut it. We need heroes in days like this.

Up until recently all we could ask of most Christians was that they be a good worker, a good family member, and a good church goer. A believer who put hard work, family, and faith first was basically doing his duty and that was about all we expected of them. But times have changed, and this is no longer good enough.

We are now in a time of war, and business as usual cannot be the order of the day. Something more is required of us all when everything we hold near and dear is under direct and sustained attack. And unless you have lived in a cave for the past half century, you would know that faith, family and freedom have all been ferociously targeted by militant activists.

Worse yet, by and large they have won. Our side has taken enormous hits and sustained serious losses. The Christian faith is being savaged and Western civilisation is teetering on a knife-edge. We are now on war footing – or we should be. But most Christians act as if nothing is amiss and everything is just rosy.

They are basically on vacation while wars rage all around them. But one simply cannot live an ordinary life in such dark and diabolical days. I have written on this before, including this piece from 2014: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/11/11/no-more-business-as-usual/

And this more recent one: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/03/22/wartime-not-business-usual/

But it seems I must keep on writing such articles. We were in a war bigtime a decade ago, but even more so now. Things were bad five years ago, but are even worse today. The days were dark in recent years, but they are now nearly pitch black.

Of course the watchmen on the wall were there all along. They were tirelessly sounding the alarm. They were warning the people, pleading with the people and praying for the people. But most of their warnings simply fell on deaf ears. Yes, we will keep on sounding the alarm, but one often wonders if most of the church is simply deaf and really could not care less.

While I have spoken about the descending darkness for many decades now, so have others. They too will tell you that most folks still don’t know and still don’t care. But they knew they had a biblical obligation to speak out nonetheless. They blew the trumpet even though they knew most believers would not stir from their slumber.

Let me alert you to two such watchmen who also made the case for extraordinary living in really dark times. These folks knew that the need of the hour was for heroes. They too could see the darkening horizons and they pleaded for a move beyond the ordinary.

I have quoted from both of these watchmen in the past. But their words are again well worth hearing – and heeding. My first example of this is Melissa Moschella, a philosophy professor at the Catholic University of America. In August of 2014 she penned a much-needed piece entitled “A Time for Heroism”. She begins her piece this way:

Perhaps there are times and places in the history of the world in which it is possible to go through life as just an ordinary, good person—a faithful spouse, a loving parent, a concerned citizen, a regular church-goer, an honest and industrious professional—leading a normal, quiet life, not making waves or standing out in any way. Perhaps. But the United States of America in the year 2014 is not one of those times and places. Rather, in our contemporary society, the only way to be good is to be heroic. Failing to act with heroism inevitably makes us complicit in grave evils.

She looks at some of the obvious areas of conflict: marriage, family, the life issues, and so on. She notes how we should – and should not – respond:

In the face of such carnage, too often it is tempting to think that the solution is to retreat from the broader culture, which is sick and dying from a highly contagious moral confusion. For some, the instinct is to try to isolate and save oneself and one’s family from the contagion in a kind of self-imposed quarantine. But, aside from the fact that we have an obligation to help those suffering from this epidemic, retreat simply will not work. The new orthodoxy regarding same-sex marriage will brook no opposition and has already infiltrated public schools and child protection services agencies.

Unless we stay engaged in the broader culture and keep up the fight for the truth about marriage, our future generations may not be allowed to teach their children the truth about marriage—they may find their children taken away from them if they refuse to teach them that there is nothing wrong with a homosexual or otherwise sexually permissive lifestyle. It may sound far-fetched, but it has already happened in states like Massachusetts. Even ten years ago, the prospect of legal recognition of same-sex marriage throughout the country sounded far-fetched as well.

In these circumstances, just being “good” is impossible. We inevitably will be faced with situations in which we must either give in or stand up for our convictions even at great personal cost. There is no “middle way.” Our times call for heroism, and we must be prepared to respond to that call. Many people have done so already.

She offers some examples of modern-day heroes – seemingly ordinary people such as students and parents, and then writes:

We must be prepared to live not just good, but heroic lives. We must be prepared to risk popularity, reputation, professional success, economic well-being, and—it may yet come to this—perhaps even our lives, in order to defend the dignity of human life in all its stages, the value of sexual integrity, the truth about marriage and family, and the right to live in accordance with one’s beliefs in all spheres of life. If, and only if, we are willing to make these sacrifices, we will resist the forces of the culture of death in our own lives, and, with God’s help, transform that culture into a culture of life. May we all heroically rise to this great challenge of our time.
www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/08/13486/

My second example also comes from a piece written four years ago. Jonathon Van Maren wrote the important article: “Dear Christians: It’s no longer enough to work hard, raise a family, and hope to be left alone”. He asks what I and others have asked so often: When will Christians wake up? Why won’t most Christians engage in these crucial battles? His reply is much like what I have been saying over the years:

Apathy is part of it. Lack of awareness is part of it. But by and large, the real reason is an attitude that runs much deeper. The answer is simple: Church-going people are often traditional, conservative people. And here I don’t mean those terms in the way that political analysts might use them, to describe specific policy positions. I mean simply that they are people who want to work hard, raise their children, and be left alone.

And all that has been fair enough – up until recently. But as we must now know, that is just not enough in these hyper-evil days. More is now required of us, or we will lose it all. He continues:

Which brings us to our present unpleasant realization that from a cultural perspective, the traditionalists and conservatives have been thoroughly beaten in the war for the culture. For the most part, we never even showed up. We raised families, built farms and businesses, and attended church functions while secular revolutionaries took over the entertainment industry, the media, academia—and finally, the public education system that now dutifully serves as a conduit for secular “values.” Prayer is out, queer theory is in, and many a middle-aged conservative has found occasion recently to splutter his coffee and gape at his newspaper: “How did things change so fast?”

They didn’t, of course. The Sexual Revolution has been unfolding now for over sixty years. But now, for the first time, people are beginning to wake up and realize that what is happening is not something we can ignore, because very rapidly, it is beginning to happen to us. Already, the influences of the entertainment industry and pornography are showing in the youth. It’s why Christian publications mourn the rise of “sexual atheists”—people who still believe in God, but just don’t think His rules apply to their sex life. Churches across North America are hemorrhaging young people as the public education system dutifully does what it was put in place to do: Plant skepticism, undermine the beliefs of any children from Christian homes, and then send them off to university so that the faculty there can finish the job. It’s why enormous numbers of Christians lose their faith during university.

The government, too, will no longer leave us alone….

He concludes with these words:

Conservatives want to be left alone to raise their children. The unfortunate fact is that we won’t be. The secularists never had any intention of letting us carve out enclaves where we could live in peace—and a stream of legislation like Alberta’s Bill 10, which would force home-schoolers and private schools to change their teaching on sexuality, is simply the most recent evidence….

How can one be a conservative in a society with nothing left to conserve and everything to fight for? It’s a pressing, imminent question that demands our attention. The twofold task of passing our Christian beliefs on to our children and preventing the government from interfering in that process was once easy—we could just live and let live. That was always a questionable strategy, especially as it ignored the massive loss of life through abortion happening in our own towns and cities. Standing up for our pre-born neighbors is not just a “cause,” but a biblical command. But now, it is in our self-interest to engage. It is not just the children of others we should be worried about, but our own. We will not have the luxury of raising children the way our parents and grandparents did. The time to speak Truth to power is now.
www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/dear-christians-its-no-longer-enough-to-work-hard-raise-a-family-and-hope-t

Yes the time is now. It has been for a while now. It can NOT be business as usual any longer. We will simply lose it all if we think we can just live like we did 70 years ago. Those days are now long gone, and everything that we value and cherish is now almost gone.

In such a time of aggressive militancy and all out warfare, the ordinary will be of no use to us. Only the heroic will do. And in Jesus Christ we have all the means, ability and power needed to become heroes. The only question is: will you step up to the plate and make a stand, or will you just sit back and hope that someone else does so instead?

Long ago the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) put it this way:

Nowadays the devil has made such a mess of everything in the system of life on earth that the world will presently become uninhabitable for anybody but Saints. The rest will drag their lives out in despair or fall below the level of man. The antinomies of human life are too exasperated, the burden of matter too oppressive; merely to exist, one has to expose oneself to many snares. Christian heroism will one day become the sole solution for the problems of life.

Yep, we need heroes. But where are they? As David asked long ago: “Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?” (Psalm 94:16) Or as Jesus asked: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)

Or as I keep asking: Where have all the heroes gone?

[2038 words]

19 Responses to Wanted: Heroes For Dark Times

  • Bill, You nailed it again and on the same vain — last night I sent out over 50 emails on the be-headings of the two young ladies, only one person responded back to me. But I will keep passing on what you write. You may not see much good but I know that what you do is making a huge difference. God bless you.

  • A lot of the heroes are us. But time and again we’re told to be quiet, not upset our friends and neighbours, and generally don’t talk about politics in polite company. I’m sick of all that. I encountered such apathy during the Christmas holiday period, I wanted to pick these folk up and shake them. British people are inclined to keep things and feelings under cover; it’s long past time that we started shouting aloud, but again….”oh don’t rock the boat, you’ll upset people”. I see my country disintegrating, but my friends just want a quiet life and expect others to do the wars. What to do?

  • Bill, I do not mean this as an excuse, but by way of a possible explanation. I was once on a jury in the USA. My mind could simply not fathom such evil as this crime entailed. Are we sometimes unable to grasp the evil intent of the plots around us? Are they so far removed from our minds which have been ‘renewed by the word of God,” that we just can’t conceive of such evil intent? I confess to at times being a coward. I admit to being comfortable at times in my silence. Lately, I think I see the horrible danger and shameful, disgusting dereliction of faithfulness on my part, but I find those around me think I’m some kind of “alarmist nut job.” They don’t seem to grasp the perilous times in which we live, and they think I’m bonkers. I guess I’m saying thank you for raising this alarm, while asking at the same time if it’s possible we just, “don’t get it?”

  • It seems that the majority of people just have no idea as to what is happening under their noses. Either that or they choose NOT to know! For the majority, life continues as usual. If necessary, they do the ‘ostrich trick’ of putting their head in the sand. I have a sister-in-law like that. I can’t help but wonder what it will take for such people to actually wake up to the truth. Hopefully that will happen before Jesus returns! Meanwhile we must be on the alert, ready to take a stand for all that is good, noble and true, and to confront the evil in our midst.

  • Bill,
    I find it strange that folks talk about taking a stand and are ready to fight the evil that prevails over the West, but nothing will change the direction of the secular when there is an audience of people who just talk and do not do the walk. I have isolated myself from many people and my church. The church remains silent and often justifies these evils by saying, “Love Is Love.” We are forced to accept all behavior and then return to a church that is blind and deaf.

    “I admit to being comfortable at times in my silence. Lately, I think I see the horrible danger and shameful, disgusting dereliction of faithfulness on my part, but I find those around me think I’m some kind of “alarmist nut job.” They don’t seem to grasp the perilous times in which we live, and they think I’m bonkers.” Vicki I am right here with you. Jesus has not left us we have left Jesus. We sit and wait for the return of Christ and let the good and Glorius slip away.

    I do not have the answers. A weakened church and faith has surrendered to an evil culture.

  • Hi Bill, in at least one of your past articles you have dubbed Australia’s Graham Preston as one such modern-day ‘hero’ (e.g. https://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/03/04/stand-up-for-babies-you-will-be-arrested/). The following is an extract from a recent write-up (http://catholicleader.com.au/news/graham-preston-facing-arrest-if-he-continues-his-pro-life-activism-for-the-unborn-in-queensland) which shows he’s still very much at the front line:

    PRO-lifer Graham Preston, a regular campaigner outside Brisbane’s abortion clinics, knows his days of freedom to do that are numbered.

    Queensland’s Termination of Pregnancy Bill – effectively legalising abortion – comes into force on December 3, and 63-year-old Mr Preston faces arrest if he continues his activism.

    New laws will establish 150m exclusion or “bubble zones” around abortion clinics or medical facilities that offer abortions, to stop “harassment and intimidation” of patients and staff.

    Those caught breaking the rules face arrest and up to one year in prison – not that Mr Preston is a stranger to Queensland authorities during three decades of campaigning.

    He has been jailed six times for his outspoken stand against abortion, and received countless warnings.

    In July 2016, Preston was fined $3000 for protesting outside an abortion clinic in Hobart, having specifically flown to Tasmania to test that state’s laws.

    “I have my name in hundreds of policemen’s notebooks,” Mr Preston said.

    “I think our society wants to turn a blind eye and forget what’s happening (with abortion).”

    Mr Preston is waiting for a decision in a High Court challenge to “bubble zones” laws in Victoria and Tasmania – on the grounds that they suppress freedom of speech.

    Lawyers argued on Mr Preston’s behalf that the safe access zone laws in those two states were invalid because they violated the implied freedom of political communication under the Australian Constitution.

    However, those who support the Victorian and Tasmanian laws claim they protect people from unwelcome intrusions into their privacy by strangers who seek to interfere in deeply personal decisions.

    “The judges have reserved their decisions and we are just waiting to hear what their decision is,” Mr Preston said.

    “If they find in our favour then these laws will have to be removed and if they find against us, well, we won’t be able to do anything against them.”

    It could take months for the High Court’s seven judges to hand down a decision, but Mr Preston considers it to have been a privilege “to have represented the rights of the littlest Australians, the unborn, in their silent cry for life”.

    Last week, while continuing to campaign outside a Bowen Hills abortion clinic, Mr Preston was twice questioned by police and warned of the impending new Queensland abortion laws.

    He is not deterred.

    “Just because the law has been changed it doesn’t mean we should become silent. It’s more important than ever,” Mr Preston said.

  • Something about this article didn’t sit right with me Bill. I think it’s because it leans a bit towards campaigning for a better morality and fighting against immoral practices in our culture… ie surface change. .. which is essentially legalism. Ie we would be happy if or culture was living good lives and had good moral laws… even if they still rejected God’s rule over their lives. Whereas Jesus calls us to proclaim the gospel… which is a call to a heart change… and a call to believe in him as the savoir and rightful ruler of the universe. That’s God’s main agenda and it should be ours too. I may have misread your angle but that’s what came across a bit to me.

  • Thanks Dan. Yes I am afraid you have misread me – and perhaps Scripture as well. Had you read all 4600 articles I have penned here – or even a small percentage of them – you would have seen at least two clear messages coming through constantly. One, the biblical Christian of course always seeks to see lives transformed from sin and death by the saving power of Jesus Christ. That really goes without saying, and I certainly do not need to state this truth every single time I write an article.

    Two, biblical Christians are also always called to be salt and light, and to see the lordship of Christ extend to all areas of life. The latter is NOT legalism. It is simply seeking to be faithful to Scripture, knowing that righteousness exalts a nation, that we should seek the welfare of the city we find ourselves in, and so on.

    Thankfully biblical Christians throughout history have believed both of these truths and sought to live them out. As one obvious example, the evangelical Wilberforce certainly shared the gospel with others, but he did NOT stop there. He also worked to make society a better place, in two main areas: the abolition of slavery and the “reformation of manners”.

    So yes, he and countless other devout and biblical Christians were up to their ears in “campaigning for a better morality and fighting against immoral practices in our culture”. Thank God they did! Indeed, millions of blacks today are so very thankful that these folks ignored the critics who foolishly said, “Wilby old boy, why waste time on slavery and better working conditions for women and children, etc. That is legalism. Just preach the gospel!” Wilberforce and the others knew full well that this most certainly was not legalism but the very basic outworking of the biblical gospel. You deal with both the souls of people and their bodies. As James taught us, what good is it if you tell someone to be warm and filled, yet do nothing to make that happen. Can that sort of faith save you?

    So I am afraid I do not buy for a moment this false dilemma: either we tell people about Jesus, or we seek to be salt and light in the surrounding culture. Sorry, I prefer to be biblical and therefore I will seek to do both. Thus I will continue to tell people they need Christ, and I will continue to stand against the sin of abortion, and resist the war on God’s institutions of marriage and family, and so on. Just as I should be doing – and just as all Christians should be doing.

    But I have written on this often, and I speak to it in much more detail here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2011/12/06/christianity-society-and-false-dilemmas/

    And here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2012/05/10/no-more-cop-outs-we-must-take-a-stand/

    And here: http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2013/07/31/changing-hearts-laws-or-cultures/

    Please have a read of those articles. But thanks for your thoughts.

  • Choc full of profundities Bill. I will draw on them in my coming publications… with due acknowledgements… So many of the comments resonate.. “bonkers”, “nut cases” “always being negative”… e.g. one local Parish Priest was lauded for his Christmas sermon…”He deliberately concentrated on all the good things that happened in 2018 !” Having just got up from reading of the current multiple instances of diabolical torture of Christians ..I said “And what about what Christians have suffered this year ?” “Oh we all know about all that ! ”
    Funny, I hadn’t heard any commentary on this from them ! Perhaps it’s time we asserted ourselves and suggested those not concerned with the degradation of human life are the real nutters and are bonkers themselves ! Be less apologetic and instead a bit more assertive and sophisticated in arguing the case among those around us !!

  • We should be like John the Baptist. Jesus said of John: Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. (Matt 11:11). What did John do that deserved beheading: he challenged the pagan ruler Herod by saying: “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” (Matt 14:4)

    Jesus praised John the Baptist as the greatest man that lived, so if he was challenging the pagan rulers of the day then maybe we should do the same. Maybe we need to be blunt like John and just tell them ‘It’s against God’s law to kill unborn babies’ etc..

  • I would want to refer to your own article at https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/09/19/but-what-can-i-do/
    In wartime I guess people won by doing their duty, whatever that was.
    Heroes as such are rare, people raised up by God. An interesting comment I read recently was that President Trump may have been raised up as a modern-day Samson – a so-and-so but a man for the time.

  • Bill
    Abortion. A sad reality which the feminist texts and “pro-choice” editorials never mention.
    https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2018/12/the-forever-empty-crib/

  • I first became interested and involved in political issues about one and a half to two years before the marriage plebiscite – it was the marriage issue that drew me into social-political issues in general. Until that point, I had never really been interested in politics in any significant and sustained way. I had been (and still am) interested in science, mathematics, and philosophy – especially in relation to theism in general and Christian apologetics inparticular, and I was also interested in (and still am interested in) some general humanitarian causes (not involved directly on the ground as so to speak but just giving a little money to some charities) – however I had never really taken an interest in social-political issues as such – at least not until 1.5 – 2 years before the marriage plebiscite.

    After exploring the marriage issue, I began to also become concerned about other issues and eventually realised that we are actually in the fight of our lives for not just the traditional nuclear family but also for our basic freedoms and our very civilisation (Western Civilisation) itself.

    I’m not naturally inclined to be interested in social-political issues – the things that get me excited are science, metaphysics (the branch of philosophy – not referring to anything in regards to the new age movement), and mathematics. I also think that non-partisan humanitarian issues (such as giving to the poor) are very important and I would love to do more in this area including some volunteer work. However I realise that when our Western Culture, the traditional family, the pre-born, and our basic freedoms are all under a culture war attack, then it is both my national duty and my duty before God to do all that I can to speak out on such things and hopefully turn the tide a little.

    We all live busy lives – but I really think it is part of our national duty and duty before God to do all we can to speak out about important social-political issues. It’s going to be one very busy year for me this year, however I am going to push myself (not to the point of exhaustion – that would not be wise of me, but in a healthy way push myself) to do all I can to speak out on important social-political issues. We can’t just sit by and stay silent as our nation and civilisation keeps moving further and further in the wrong direction.

  • Let’s see…a hero is one who is tireless, doesn’t run away when criticized, who is faithful to keep before God’s people what is going on, one who encourages the people of God to keep on keeping on even when things get really bad…why, Bill, I consider you a hero !…today, just speaking out is a dangerous thing…[we should also pray for heroes in the pulpit] …God bless…

  • Thanks yet again Bill for assembling an epistle re the State of the Nation. The martyrs will not be taken to the pits and stoned, but will be subjected to processes that are obscure and anonymous.
    When high court judges have to decide the sacredness of a mother’s womb, we are on the cusp. The Quadrant article captures the grief, pain and despair that eminates when we decide to interfere in the sanctity of life. A must read.
    We all need your timely call to the Frey.

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