Preface. A remark of Spurgeon's from yesterday's weekly dose started me thinking. CHS wrote, "Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith"—though my thinking went in rather a different direction than the great man's.
Colors. Lately I've been exposed to a lot of WWII-ing. My Josiah (10) recently studied it, so we've watched a lot of the classic movies together ("Sands of Iwo Jima," "The Longest Day," etc.). Also, I'm making my way through Band of Brothers.
World War II was classic warfare, you might say. Opposing forces by and large were clearly identified, and identifiable. Soldiers wore distinctive uniforms, they had headquarters and unit locations, they had weaponry which could often be identified by sound. Though war always brings collateral damage, the soldiers of each army looked for warriors of the opposition, and concentrated fire on them.
Terrorists today operate in an almost precisely opposite fashion.
I thought this recently as I heard a terrorist representative taking a predictably-sympathetic MSM reporter on a guided propaganda tour of residences the Israeli's had allegedly targeted and destroyed. "Look at this building. Is it a military base? Or just civilians living in this building?" he whined. The reporter/mouthpiece affirmed that it they just looked like civilian housing to him, "no evidence apparent of military equipment."
My immediate thought evidently escaped the "expert" reporter on the scene: "Tell you what, sport: you give out the location of your army and its headquarters, describe your uniforms, and separate yourselves from civilians, and I'm sure the Israeli's will be happy to target them exclusively."
Because this is precisely what terrorists don't do. Instead, they disguise themselves as innocents, they hide their arms in non-combatants' homes and hold the residents hostage, they use civilians to carry their weaponry—and then they cry bloody murder when their deliberate tactics get non-combatants hurt and killed.
By contrast, it is their precise method to target non-combatants. They exult and celebrate when they kill, maim and wound scores of their target-country's civilians. Remember: 9/11 was not a "miss." Nearly three thousand moms, dads, husbands, wives, sons and daughters were murdered as they went about the course of their daily, productive, non-military lives. It was no mistake. It was a direct hit.
But wait—terrorists in church? The parallel between these terrorists and our Enemy's tactics rather stands out to me.
Now, in classic warfare style, Satan does still have his standing armies who fly clear colors. The more apostasy spreads, and compromise is embraced; the more error is tolerated, the bolder they can afford to be. Even the most weakly-professed Christianoid cannot sanely look at organizations like NAMBLA or American Atheist and think, "Ah, another Christian organization doing the Lord's work!"
But he also schemes as the terrorists do. Remember that Paul speaks of arrogant, apostate traitors as
holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away. 6 For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, 7 ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:5-7)Note that these false teachers are not targeting pastor-teachers. They themselves pose as pastors, teachers, prophets (2 Corinthians 11:13; 1 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:1). They are on TV, or going door to door, focusing on those we might think of as non-combatants: vulnerable women. Ther goal is to have their talk spread like gangrene (2 Timothy 2:16-18). In this way, they sneak in, and ultimately overturn whole households (Titus 1:11). Although may be a strategic bonus to take out a shepherd (cf. Zechariah 13:7), the more mayhem done to the sheep, the better (Acts 20:29).
Is the church today in good shape to keep an eye open for these terrorists? Good heavens. We don't display the collective discernment to spot a wolf in wolf's clothing, let alone sheep's. "Evangelical" organizations, institutions, denominations, are not distinguishing themselves as able and willing to identify, isolate, confront, counter, and if need be remove even the clearest false teaching.
Let one person muster the courage to rise up, point, and cry "Wolf!"—and he's instantly surrounded by sheep disapprovingly baa-ing and bleating about how ha-a-a-arsh, and judgme-e-e-ental, and divi-i-i-isive, and cri-i-i-itical he is being.
This is why it falls to the under-shepherds to show discernment and stand watch, regardless of the cost. They most certainly are to "profile," cautiously but vigorously (cf. Acts 20:28-30; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; Titus 1:9-11). They must warn the sheep, and sharply direct them away from error and towards healthy teaching (Titus 1:13-14). They must counter the spiritual terrorists, silence them (Titus 1:11), and expel them after two warnings (Titus 3:10-11). They must do this even when God's professed people adore the false teachers (cf. Jeremiah 5:31; Micah 2:11; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Pastors, you might not be thanked now. You might even be criticized, shunned, disdained. Worse.
But which report would you rather bring your Commander in Chief? "Sorry, Sir; they didn't what to hear it, so I..."?
Or "Sir, they didn't want to hear it, but they needed to hear it, and You told me to tell them—so I did my level best"?