An Axis of Evil in the Church?

As previously mentioned, there are big discussions taking place in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Denmark, although many of the worries are probably not exclusive to this country, or to this denomination. A lot of church members are honestly worried, but by presenting a world view that mimics that of a certain U.S. president, I believe these ‘concerned brethren’ are doing more harm than good.

The problem arises when everything you dislike is lumped with each other, all belonging to the same conspiracy. Some people might make a list including ecumenism, praise music, church planting, new methods, spiritual gifts, lay ministry, speaking in tongues, feelings, the Holy Spirit, healing, Natural Church Growth, and many others. Some of these may be bad, others are certainly not. But to some people, the distinction is lost, and everything is brandished as an “Axis of Evil”.

This term, famously used by U.S. President George W. Bush in his 2002 State of the Union Address, did much the same in world politics. Potentially unfriendly states were linked together in a supposed conspiracy, proving to be mostly false. Furthermore, one might suspect that involuntary membership of the group actually creates ties which were previously non-existent. North Korea and Iran probably have a better relationship now than before joining the Axis of Evil.

An early notion in Adventism was the call to ‘come out of Babylon’, based on Revelation 18:4-5, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.” However, as George Knight points out in A Search for Identity, Adventists have interpreted Babylon to be many different things, among these all other churches, Catholicism, or even the principle of church structure.

Incidentally, earthly Babylon is pretty much modern-day Iraq, founding member of the Axis of Evil. I don’t believe that symbolic Babylon should be interpreted as the Axis of Evil is. It would be a mistake if we as Christians see the church as George W. Bush sees the world.

I find hope in the Third Angel’s Message, in Revelation 14:12, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” This is our calling; staying true the Word and remaining faithful to Jesus Christ, acknowledging that salvation can come only through believing in Him.

As humans, and as Christians, we should not spend our time judging others. In stead, we should rejoice and be happy. “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:7) All glory belongs to the Lord. So does judgment.

2 responses to “An Axis of Evil in the Church?

  1. Interesting observation. One comment. The “church” always wants these verses (Rev 18:4-5) to apply to the church. I believe that you can make a strong theological case that the verse is actually talking to the individual.

    Can we, as individuals, come away from the pleasures and worries of the world, and focus exclusively on the One with whom we will spend eternity? Sounds like a pipe dream. But in reality, that is what we are encouraged to do in many different places in the Word.

    Instead of spending valuable time worring about this aspect of ‘the church’, or that doctrine, we should be diligently studying to be more Christ-like in our lives. Only then can we be used by the Spirit to spead the gospel, and also take care of His lambs.

    As Pogo famously said many years ago, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”

  2. Thank you, David. I like the thought of Rev 18:4-5 talking about the individual. Christianity is, like no other religion, individual. Being a part of God’s family is about baptism, not race, as we are told numerous times in Acts. So Rev 18:4-5 and also Rev 14:12 could easily be interpreted as a call to the individual, as membership is by individual choice.

    I am, of course, no theologian. But it doesn’t take one to agree with your statement, “we should be diligently studying to be more Christ-like in our lives”. Amen.

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