Put No Confidence in Princes, the Walking Dead, and What Happened to Senoia, Georgia
In 2007, President Obama campaigned on the promise of withdrawing American troops from the Middle East. He sent 30,000 additional soldiers soon after taking office. He won a Nobel Prize for pledging to reduce the world’s stockpile of nuclear armaments; his administration has spent $1 trillion upgrading our nuclear arsenal. He was likely sincere in his desire to accomplish both of these agendas. Yet, when he came to office, he could not overcome the government within the government, which never stands for election, retains power of whoever is in office, and answers to none but itself. This coterie of international bankers, lobbyists, industrialists, militarists, globalists, think-tankers, and media magnates is the real government of the United States.
The Lord warns us, “Put not your trust in princes.” There is no help coming from man. The American system is now past changing and has been for over a century. It is a hydra – cut off one head, and two more grow in its place. It is folly to think that the election of one man or group of men will be able to grapple with the serpent of the American system and bring it down. Most who campaign on the promise to try are quickly bought and become proponents of a weak conservatism. The few brave souls who stick to their principles are marginalized and must settle for killing a few of the serpent’s eggs.
Put not your trust in princes. This negative is a cardinal tenet of a Christian political philosophy. Government will not save us. Politicians will not save us. Some work to restrain its evil grasping for absolute power, and for this we should be thankful and supportive, but the train of despotism left the station long ago. We should not trust government to make our currency sound, legislation bearable, justice just, or borders secure. We have laws on the books that require government to do these things, but civil leaders in our day were not trained in schools that embrace the laws of nature and of nature’s God as the foundation of truth, peace, and justice. They were trained in the philosophy that might makes right, that political power is an end in itself, and that truth and justice are slogans to serve darker purposes. Because truth has fallen in the streets, judgment is turned backwards and justice flees far away. In one sentence, this is the epithet of all unbelieving systems of government. Ignore God’s truth, and righteousness and judgment become unattainable. Life becomes cheap, and the people fodder for social experimentation.
History-conscious Christians revere aspects of our national past, as do I. We would like a return to those principles. Yet, history, good history, is hard to imitate. The people who made it, the spirit that animated them, the providence that guided them, were unique to their hour. Generations of teaching, suffering, and hard work produced those noble men and women, as well as the nations and economies they created. For the Christian element, the blessings God gave them in this land were the fruit of covenant faithfulness. God may give peace, prosperity, and justice to his people again, but they will again be the fruit of obedience. Are we willing to think and live deliberately by his word? Suffer for the truth? Teach our children carefully his covenant way of life in Jesus Christ? At some point in the past, the descendants of those whom we now revere did not pass on these commitments. Good traditions and principles are not self-perpetuating but require strenuous effort to preserve, expand, and pass forward.
Last week, Elizabeth and I took a little trip down to Senoia, Georgia, a once-sleepy little town with a few Victorian-era homes, no highway noise, an agricultural past, and Holberg’s furniture store. I saw more people in Senoia in two days than in my previous seven visits- many times over. New construction is everywhere. The reason? They now film a television show there – about zombies or some such nonsense. Our bed and breakfast was full of people hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars. Ten tours a day visit the filming sites. The owner of the production house is adding to the town many new, period buildings – for filming purposes. Senoia is on its way to becoming a set for a television show.
What happened to the past? It was obviously not thought to be worth perpetuating. Perhaps it became economically unfeasible to do so. But economic changes, good and bad, are also the fruit of obedience or disobedience to God. Whatever was the center of Senoia’s past life was carried to the graves of its previous inhabitants. Their place remembers them no more. Was there no Christian faith here? If so, why was it not passed forward? I surmise that there was a polite Christian faith, as is evidenced by many local church buildings from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. It did not grip the citizens of Senoia. It did not lay deep roots, set out a comprehensive, biblical program for living, or capture the imagination of their descendants. The demon of formal religion without a living heart and union with Christ, faith without obedience, has now been replaced with seven worse demons of zombie television. This is happening throughout our land. The demons differ – bland chain commercialism, urban sprawl, hippie nouveau cuisine and culture. Their commonality is no connection to the past, either because the past is hated or was lifeless.
In this setting, government is the one constancy. It feels necessary to trust government to provide stability. In the case of Senoia, the town council initially resisted some of these developments, but too much money was at stake. The producers bought the town. Princes will sell you out every time. They will do what it takes to retain power and control, irrespective of the wishes of the citizenry whose interests they are ostensibly elected to represent.
If we are not to trust government, who or what is left? Only God. This is a challenging and exhilarating place to find oneself. There are no or very few defenders of truth and justice. Only a few lone voices remain who would defend the liberties of God’s people at the cost of their “lives, their fortune, and their sacred honor.” The church in this land does not exist and will not flourish based upon the support of government. We shall have to go it alone – but not alone. The Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. Seeing that there was no man, his own arm brought salvation in Jesus Christ. He does not need many to save his people.
If you believe these things, remember Senoia. In 1912, on the porch of the house we stayed in, there was a luncheon honoring living Confederate veterans. Over the next century, memories of liberty, a simpler life freed from the constant flow of information that deceives ignorant men into thinking that they are quite knowledgeable, lives in which history was made on porches, in fields, with people talking about important things – all gone. The few centenarians that still live there and their houses are all that remain. And they are now movie sets.
Trusting God not princes, we must take our faith more seriously. The only memory that is worth preserving, the only way of life that has the power to perpetuate itself, is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He alone is living. He alone is enduring, trustworthy, and invincible. Everything you think stable and worth preserving will pass away and be forgotten unless it is quickened with heavenly grace, sustained by the light of the world, Jesus Christ, and consecrated to his kingdom.
Know him, believer. Perpetuate the memory of his goodness, his past deliverances of the church, his great works in this land, and his present working in your life. Tell your children the story of the Bible again and again – from creation to our Lord’s return. Make it alive to them by your own enthusiasm for talking about it and living it. Help them see that this is their history, the only true history, and the only lasting history, for it is God’s eternal truth. Men and circumstances and systems change, but his word endures forever. Challenge them to take their place and do their part in God’s unfolding salvation to the nations. These are the chapters in the great story of our Savior’s gospel conquest. Love him, believer! Adore and trust him! Forsake the world and all its fleeting pleasures to be found in him. His love and gospel will triumph over all the silliness that we see around us. Build upon him, eat him, walk with him, and you will endure forever. He redeemed her so that she might be his own possession, his beloved Bride, holy in life, glorious in eternity. The dead and their societies have no future but death. They are walking zombies now, whose only hope is the regenerating power of the gospel.