Martin Luther King, Civil Rights and ‘Christian Resistance’

Martin-Luther-KingToday’s observance of Martin Luther King Day seems like a good time to compare the racial and political ideologies that gave rise to the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 60s — and the creation of the national holiday honoring King in the 1980s — with the biblical and historical motivations that undergird the theology and tactics of Christian Resistance.

King’s prominent role in the civil rights movement as an ordained Christian minister — and liberal Baptist preacher — certainly gave the movement its religious, righteously indignant tone and flavor in the media.  But it was always a political movement, first to last.  And the goal was always a political one: equal rights under the law. Which was another way of saying blacks had a right to the same unequal and unfair treatment under the same bureaucratic and corrupt system of tyranny and excessive taxation that whites enjoyed.  “Now, that’s worth marching for!”

The civil rights movement and especially the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were originally championed on the right, believe it or not, by conservatives and Republicans.  But, of course, once its political potential as a catalyst for the justifiable expansion in the role of government — meaning the expansion in the role and power and enrichment and career enhancement of government-paid employees: politicians — to intrude into the lives and wallets of private citizens for the sake of “equality” became apparent, the movement was co-opted by members of the Left and adopted as their own cause, and a new ideological banner was created to wave in their opponents’ faces and cast in the teeth of conservatives.  “Take that, you bigoted, civil rights proponents, originators and pioneers!”

It was not “Christian resistance” per se.  At best, you could say it was baptized political activism.  Sort of like “liberation theology,” but without all the guns and Marxist trappings.

Christian resistance, as defined and presented in the following two books, is quite different.

Rather than providing a blueprint to seize and utilize the levers of tyrannical power and political mobilization to right wrongs and correct injustices, it offers a grassroots, theologically- and biblically-motivated, broad-based effort that begins with this: resisting the tyranny lawfully and peacefully while exposing and opposing the erroneous, unbiblical and ungodly theories and ideologies that caused the problem in the first place.  It then moves to providing Bible-based alternatives and solutions that will, in the long run, fix what is broken.

But first, as you will see, the nature of the problem — how we got here — has to be stated and understood, along with the principles and doctrines and biblical examples that validate and warrant, and even mandate, the proffering and strategic implementation of a “Christian” solution.

Let’s look at the backdrop.  In the 1970s, the civil rights movement nationally had pretty much run its course and faded from the public consciousness as a political force and nightly news-maker.  Now, war, military escalations, economic unrest, social and cultural turmoil that began in the decade before and continued as a thriving counter-culture, the spread of a militant atheism and secular humanism using the tax-funded institutions of government and public education to spread its poison and consolidate and expand its power, the erosion of traditional morality and values, etc., all combined to expose the obvious void and very noticeable absence of a self-consciously biblical, systematic Christian strategy and game plan to combat these problems and address these issues.

By the early 1980s, the nascent school of historic, orthodox, Calvinistic, eschatologically optimistic, theological school of thought known as Christian Reconstruction, was coming into its own and beginning to make its presence felt — a very unwelcome presence as far as many conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists were concerned!

Newsletters gave birth to books, which gave birth to more books.  Volumes and volumes of literary “blueprints” written explicitly for Christians to begin getting a theological and intellectual grip and handle on things.  Not a moment too soon.  Conservatives, especially Christians, having rediscovered political activism, were lulled into a false sense of victory in 1980 thinking they had “won” the grand prize when they got Ronald Reagan into the White House.  Wrong!   The battle was only escalating and intensifying.

For this reason, in 1983, the following two volumes were published in the Christianity and Civilization series of the Geneva Divinity School:

The Theology of Christian ResistanceTactics of Christian Resistance

Edited by Dr. Gary North and Rev. James B. Jordan, these two books were meant to be handbooks and manuals for Christians to read and understand, (a), what it is we are facing — and have been facing for quite some time! — and, (b), what it is we can, and must, do about it.

Their content and message are no less relevant and no less required reading for us today.

And so, on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day 2014, and in light of the growing liberty movement and slow but steady political awakening of the public to the across-the-globe problem of tyranny, it seems like an awfully wise and timely thing to do to embark on (for some) a new reading of these now-thirty-year-old books!  For those of us who are not waiting around biding our time hoping for a certain imminent cataclysmic event to deliver us instantly and mercifully from the exigencies and weighty and urgent responsibilities of building Christ’s kingdom by first deconstructing Satan’s counterfeit kingdom and its corrupt influences, the task of taking the time to identify the nature and causes and history of the problem, and then systematically and patiently but proactively and confidently addressing and dealing with them and ultimately, by God’s grace, power and wisdom, solving them once and for all, is not such a tall order.

Both of these books are free and can be downloaded right here:

The Theology of Christian Resistance

Tactics of Christian Resistance

Multiple authors contributed numerous articles and essays that comprise these two very informative and insightful volumes. But their individual viewpoints do share one common theme:

Crown rights, not civil rights!

I suppose if we had to think of a composite title for these, we could call them, Rules for Christian Radicals!

Happy reading and Happy MLK Day! 🙂


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