Subversion from within is a very real problem:
How do you destroy a nation, or a culture, or a society? There are two main ways this can be done. One, you can attack it from without with the force of arms. That is a very common method of course. But a second way can be just as effective: one can also undermine a nation or a people from within.
The matter of infiltrators, traitors and fifth columnists in a time of war is a very real problem. For those who are not familiar with that last term, it simply means ‘a group within a country at war who are sympathetic to or working for its enemies.’
But it is not just during actual times of war that we find such folks working against others. This white-anting from within (the work of termites, for non-Australians) happens in many settings – not least of which in the Christian church.
Scripture makes it clear that those working against the faith will actually sneak into our churches and do their sinister work. As but one example of this, consider what Jesus said in Matthew 13:24-30. There we read about “The Parable of the Weeds”. It goes like this:
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
Of course the context here is that of those merely claiming to be believers (fake Christians) who are mingling with real believers, causing much damage along the way. Our churches have always had this problem. That is why folks like Augustine spoke about the church in this world as always being a mixed body (corpus permixtum).
We have the church visible (the mixed body with true and fake believers) and the church invisible (the real-deal saints of God). But see more on this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/11/16/this-is-why-the-church-is-losing/
But the application of this biblical passage can be extended of course. Again, one can think of geopolitical conflict – wars and the like, in which a hostile enemy fifth column seeks to undermine the other side from within. And we get this in the culture wars as well.
How many times have people opposed to our beliefs and values tried to sneak their way into our side and into our confidence, only to undo us from within? I would have offered many dozens of examples of this very thing happening over the years on this site, both in our churches and in our cultures.
As to one of the more recent examples of this, consider all the so-called Christians who are actually supporting things like the new ‘anti-conversion’ law that just passed in Victoria. See my writeup of this terrible bill here: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/02/05/we-are-all-criminals-now-in-victoria/
Some folks claiming to be Christians are actually cheering this thing on. Or at best, they are utterly clueless, and do not think it will be much of a big deal. I have dealt with both types of these folks already in recent times.
We had the same fake Christians who infiltrated our side during the homosexual marriage debate. They sided with the sexual militants while turning against Bible-believing Christians. The parable of Jesus is certainly applicable here. Most Christians were in fact sleeping through that entire debate.
I had been warning about how dangerous a change to marriage would be for years – even decades. But with so much of the church fast asleep, my warnings – and those of others – mainly fell on deaf ears. I offer verse 25 once more here: “but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.”
So much of the church is asleep when it comes to the culture wars, and as a result, plenty of weeds have grown up with the wheat. That is why we keep losing so often. The other side has done a terrific job of infiltrating our ranks, pretending to be part of our team, and are doing tremendous damage as a result. They have fooled far too many gullible and undiscerning believers along the way.
But instead of ending on a low note here, let me offer two bits of potentially good news – something to encourage us along the way. The truth is, not every Christian has been taken in by these fake Christians who are actually pushing the world’s agenda. Many are quite aware of what is happening, and are not going to let these tares destroy the wheat.
Let me mention two examples of this. The first is a Sydney Presbyterian pastor who is a champion – someone I have known for a long time now. He certainly will not be conned by the infiltrators, and he will certainly stand his ground. I refer to Rev. Dr. Peter Barnes of Revesby Presbyterian Church. Another Sydney Presbyterian pastor, Mark Powell, has just written up his story. He says in part:
The Moderator General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, Rev. Dr. Peter Barnes, has requested that all Presbyterian ministers “preach the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27) and preach that not only all sex outside of the marriage—between a man and a woman—is sinful, but that all Christians should actively seek to pray for LGBTIQ people to turn away from both their behaviour and desires. As Dr Barnes argues:
“The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill has now passed through both houses of the Victorian parliament. It forbids any attempt to change or suppress, or induce any person to change or suppress, his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Prayer or counselling designed to change a person, even at that person’s request, is prohibited. In short, this means that sexual preference is protected by law, as is any person’s gender preference. Homosexual sex is not permitted to be called ‘sin’, and a male today can claim to be a female tomorrow.”
Significantly, the Victorian legislation makes it illegal for a parent to pray for their own child, even if they had requested them to do so. As such, Dr. Barnes believes that it is right for Christians to defy the governing authority such as, “When King Darius exceeded his God-given authority, Daniel did ‘as he had done previously’ (Dan. 6:10).” caldronpool.com/breaking-presbyterian-church-of-australia-set-to-defy-gay-conversion-bill/
The press release is found here: presbyterian.org.au/index.php/resources/moderator-s-comments/202-statement
My second bit of good news is this: although the Victorian bill is so very horrific and diabolical, that means it is now getting global attention. Concerned Christians from around the world are now speaking about this atrocious legislation.
One of these is Christian theologian and commentator Carl Trueman. He is the author of a number of important books, including his newest volume, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. It is a first class work, and I still hope to have my review of it out soon. But he has just penned a piece on the Victorian situation which is well worth reading. Here is part of it:
But the really important part of the bill from a religious perspective is its list of “change or suppression practices.” This includes: “carrying out a religious practice, including but not limited to, a prayer-based practice, a deliverance practice or an exorcism.”
In short, if someone asks a pastor, a priest, or a Christian friend to pray for them that their sexual desires or gender dysphoria might be changed, that pastor, priest, or friend runs the risk of committing a criminal offense. Presumably this also applies to parents praying for their children—or perhaps even parents teaching their children that untrammeled expressions of sexual desire (at least within the canons of contemporary bourgeois taste) are inappropriate.
This provision is clearly not based on any coherent metaphysical objection to the practice of prayer. If the legislators believe God exists, they presumably believe that he is wise enough to ignore such prayers if they are indeed truly harmful. And if they do not think he exists, then it seems reasonable to assume they would regard such prayer as a rather pointless, even nonsensical, exercise.
If the policy is not metaphysical, it nevertheless reveals one of the aspects of the new identity politics: Traitors to the cause cannot be tolerated. Whether it is John McWhorter calling out the revivalist fervor of the new religion of anti-racism that grips the United States or some anonymous person in Australia who feels that his gender dysphoria is a problem of his mind, not of his body, the traitor is someone who is at worst malicious, at best somebody who needs to be protected from himself.
Of course in today’s hyper secular left culture, there is no such thing as an ex-homosexual. They simply do not exist. They are invisible people, just as Blacks and Jews once were. The reigning radical agenda will simply not allow them to exist, because to do so would mean their overriding narrative is false. People CAN change, and their homosexual condition is NOT immutable. Trueman speaks to this as well:
And so prayer for such heretics must be prohibited, even if they specifically ask for it. This is not so much because it harms the people for whom it is being offered, but simply because it witnesses to the fact that not all people—not even all gay and trans people—buy into the current confections of the politics of sexual identity.
Perhaps that is encouraging. Perhaps at long last Western societies are beginning to wake up to the fact that Christianity at its very core witnesses to the fact that the world is not as it should be. But it is also an ominous sign when such a basic religious practice as prayer—so often decried by the irreligious as pointless hokum—is now the target of hostile legislation in a democratic country. We may not yet be at the point where thought is a crime, but we seem to be at the point where the expression of certain thoughts, even in prayer, could be considered criminal behavior. At the risk of encouraging people to commit high crimes and misdemeanors, I would urge everyone to pray that other countries do not follow Victoria’s example, for if they do, it might be illegal to pray for almost anything of which our lords and masters disapprove in a few years’ time. www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2021/02/prohibiting-prayer-in-australia
In sum, we find at least three groups of people here. We find the masses – both within and without the church – who are asleep at the wheel and have no idea of the militant tsunami crashing over them on a daily basis. Then we have the infiltrators who are happy to exploit this situation, and will come in as tares to grow up with the wheat.
Lastly, there are those true believers who are both awake, and fully on to the enemy’s movements. They know that we are in a cultural, ideological and spiritual war, and they know that the other side is doing its best to subvert us from within. And they are doing all they can to stop this.
Thank you Peter Barnes. Thank you Carl Trueman. We need many more awake, alert and concerned Christians like you if we ever hope to win some of these crucial battles.