Radical Leftist Terrorism and the Gospel
This is an alteration from the original. I hope you find the comparison instructive. The concept of “White Nationalist” has been replaced with the concept of Radical Leftist.
1. Is the following true?
2. Why will Russell Moore speak so strongly against the evil of “White Nationalism,” (which I agree is evil), but at the same time say so little about the danger and evil of Radical Leftism?
This week our country is jolted with another wave of domestic terror attacks on our country, in El Paso and in Dayton. And, once again, the motivation seems to have been Radical Leftism.
Law enforcement experts have warned for some time of the shocking rise of this sort of ideology and the violence that often comes with it, even as we are watching Radical Leftist movements cascading all over Europe and the rest of the world.
Obviously, any sort of murder ought to shock and alarm any person, and usually does. Few people, except the terrorists themselves, will justify in any situation the killing of innocent bystanders. But we have a responsibility to ask what is the ideology behind all of this, and why does it take such root in rage-filled violent people?
Radical Leftism is not just another ideology, in a world filled with competing opinions.
Radical Leftism is a manifestation of an ancient evil that we as Christians, of all people, ought to recognize immediately. Radical Leftism emerges from what the Bible calls “the way of the flesh.”
This is a form of idolatry that exalts one’s own creaturely attributes, making a god out of, for instance, one’s ancestral origins or one’s tribal culture.
This is not incidental to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but is precisely what the gospel everywhere in the Bible confronts and condemns.
John the Baptist confronts this anti-gospel on the banks of the Jordan River (Matt. 3:9), and the Apostle Paul does so in an Athens filled with pagan Grecian-superiority origin myths (Acts 17:26–27).
Much of the New Testament is a deconstruction of this satanic pull to the exaltation of the flesh. The gospel does not merely reconcile groups to God, but the gospel also transforms specific individuals who demonstrate the kingdom of God by those carnal dividing walls being torn down (Eph. 3:1–12), such that within the gospel-formed church “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free, but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11).
The New Testament apostles expend much energy telling us, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that we are not in an ancestor cult (1 Pet. 1:18) or a national or tribal identity cult (Phil. 3:20), but we have been adopted in a new family, a kingdom from every tribe, tongue, nation, and language (Rev. 5:9–10). Moreover, we are joined in Christ to a God who loves justice and who instructs that no one should steal, and that peoples should live together under rulers who bear the sword to punish wrongdoers.
That’s why John announced Jesus’ ministry by explicitly telling tax collectors: Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” and soldiers “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely — be content with your pay.”
The people loved what Jesus was saying, until he told them they were hypocrites for not believing that Isaiah’s prophecy had been fulfilled in their midst. They were “filled with wrath” and sought to throw him off of a cliff (Lk. 4:28–29).
But, for Jesus and for his Spirit-anointed apostles, there is no gospel apart from the exposure of sin, and the repentance demanded in its wake. And one of the oldest manifestations of this flesh-worshipping devil-worship is idolizing a cleptocratic state. To confront such sin is no distraction from the gospel. To the contrary, to not confront it, silently allowing it to sit in the psyches and consciences of the people, is not just a distraction from the gospel but a contradiction of it, a word that says to those caught up in an idolatrous path, “You shall not surely die.” Those are the words of a devil, not of a gracious God.
And the sort of “way of the flesh” that leads to Radical Leftism and other such things are related intrinsically to violence, ultimately, though it may take a long time to get there. That’s because the cult of the flesh is also a cult of death (Rom. 8:12–13). That’s because it is, ultimately, from the satanic order, which means it is ultimately about a beastly kind of power (Rev. 13).
Usually that manifests itself in less obvious ways — seething internal hatred, bigotry, envy, slander (Gal. 5:19–21). Sometimes it shows up in the words of the mouth, saying things like “whiteness is wickedness” or “we await repentance for assassinating Dr. King.”
And sometimes it comes into a store with an assault rifle aimed at innocents, or, as we have seen, in trains bound for camps. The murderous aspects of this can only come about in large numbers when they are normalized by the more hidden types over a long period of time. And this sort of bigotry and hatred and self-worship is not just a danger to society, but to the one who is gripped by it himself or herself. It is a way that leads to hell.
Let’s grieve our fallen neighbors. Let’s work together to stop such atrocities from happening in the future. And let’s also, as Christians, be very clear about what this ideology is. Radical Leftism is on the rise, and is headed for a confrontation with the gospel of a crucified Rabbi from Galilee.
The gospel will win.