Church leaders need to stop apologizing and step up in support of Biblical Christianity. It’s disappointing to watch key leaders betray theology, in a pacifistic appeal to the Left, for fear of being excluded by them from the table of discussion.
Appeasement never works. It didn’t work against the onslaught of fascism in the 1930s or during the Cold War, it won’t work now.
As Winston Churchill once said, ‘it would be wrong not to lay the lessons of the past before the future; noting that appeasement encouraged the aggression of the Dictators and emboldened their power amongst their own people.’1
If John F. Kennedy had let appeasement permeate his decisions throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis, we may very well have been forced by totalitarian aggressors over the irreversible red line into global thermal nuclear war. Kennedy’s commitment to his people, grace and the firmness of his convictions were later echoed in Ronald Reagan’s ‘Peace through Strength’; Reagan’s unwavering commitment to building a relationship with the Soviet Union from a position of strength, through a policy of mutuality, not fear and submission.
Furthermore, if Jesus had appeased the Devil in the desert or quit at the pain He felt in Gethsemane, His victory over sin would be non-existent; His actualization of the presence of the Kingdom of God, the Gospel itself would have been reduced to nothing more than a birthright from heaven, sold to the highest bidder.
Instead, Jesus stood firm. He didn’t retreat. His very presence triggered demons and He expelled them with a command; healed the wounded, called sinners to repentance, and taught with veracity absent in the burdensome, stern, joylessness of the religious leaders of His day (Mark 1:22).
In recent weeks, we’ve heard attempts at diplomatic responses to the scripture Israel Folau posted on Instagram from John Dickson, Brian Houston and Simon Smart from CPX.
Their thermostatic diplomatic attempts might seem commendable, but it will not find its intended goal of peace in a conflict the Church didn’t start. At the core of their well-intentioned responses is appeasement.
Dickson and Houston may be appealing to Jesus’ command to love our enemies, which is honourable, but they appear to be clueless, underestimating the ferocity and ultimate goals of their opponents. These are opponents who have made it clear that they are not only determined to make Christians their enemy, but are determined to impose a convert, pay the fine, or face the consequences religious law on all those who dare to speak truth in love.
For the most part, appeasement is misguided neutrality. It reflects defeatism and surrender.
History again teaches us that few gains are made by giving up, what we can, should and therefore ought to defend. Appeasement in the guise of loving our enemies is a flawed approach. Appeasement often feeds retreat, encourages compromise, and cowers before the tyranny of false doctrine.
Anti-Nazi theologian, Karl Barth’s Second Letter to French Protestants written during 1940, makes this clear:
In the Germany after 1933, when she was overrun by the demonic power of National Socialism, [through compliance and an approved armistice], in order to maintain itself, Christianity in Germany retreated, no longer concerning itself with, or at least was not willing to fight and suffer for, the right form of the Church, let alone that of the State.
Writing, as he did, Barth encouraged the French to see that:
Even if this is the judgement of God on the Church, His judgement does not cast us into a self-chosen neutrality […] Repentance will us lead us to watch and not to sleep; it will guide our steps to life and not to death […] It follows that prayer will not lead us away from political thought and action of a modest but definite kind, but will rather lead us directly into purposeful conflict […] The spirit of Christian repudiation of defeat, the spirit of a Christian approach to a new and better resistance, the spirit of Christian hope will not leave the field to the demons!
The Church and Church leaders must reject a policy of appeasement that would force Christian theology into servitude to ideology, which demands appeasement and affirmation by only approving the words of false teachers, and false prophets.
The Church cannot on any terms surrender to any lord other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the existence of the Church, for from Him the Church was brought into existence, and in Him only will it find its end. The free Theos-Logos (the free Word of God) remains free to speak to humanity, and this fact will always mean that God’s grace is offensive and in conflict with a world determined to reject it.
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18, ESV)
Church leaders need to stop apologizing for Israel Folau and begin to show backbone and true leadership. Like Churchill and Barth, Kennedy and Reagan, and ultimately in Jesus Christ, we can seek an exchange of understanding that is metered out in order to establish mutual respect.
Appeasement, however, is an abdication of responsibility, it requires the perilous decision of abandoning the theological critique of ideologies, which are proving, and have proven, themselves to be treason against humanity of the highest order.2
Israel Folau has every right to post what he’d like on his own personal Instagram account. That’s an issue between him and Instragam. If people don’t like that, then they should simply just unfollow him.
If a post-Christian society is to be as it claims to be: tolerant, open and inclusive, then the people who advocate it should be mature enough to practice what they preach, giving Israel Folau and Christians, the same space and understanding that they demand for themselves.