“a time to keep silence, and a time to speak”
It has been
ten years since the Herescope blog was first launched in the Fall of 2005. 832
posts later, we are still writing and publishing, but only by God’s grace. How
much longer we can do this is fully in His hands. Times are darker. So many
have drifted away from the faith. We continue to write and to warn because of
our love of the brethren. Our hearts break daily as we see the consequences of
a church gone astray from the glorious message of redemption found in the Gospel
of Jesus Christ.
Early in the
1980s I was a right-to-life activist and leader. My first experience on a live
TV debate was with a man who was the director of the local abortion clinic. The
interviewer was sympathetic to his position, not mine. I was intimidated and terrified.
Throughout the interview the other two had the upper hand. Finally, near the
end of the debate, the interviewer, in order to attain the appearance of
objectivity, asked me to comment. I blurted out, “Abortion is a barbaric and
brutal solution to a complex human problem. Surely we can find other more
peaceful alternatives than the shedding of innocent human blood.” There was a
prolonged moment of stunned silence. The abortion clinic director appeared
shell-shocked and mumbled an inarticulate reply. The interviewer hastily
concluded with a garbled “something to think about; thanks, folks, for
I was surprised
at what had just come out of my mouth. But I meant it with all of my heart. I
hated violence. It got me thinking about the shedding of innocent human blood.
How long would God tolerate it? How long would we in America continue to live in
peace and affluence? I had hoped for systemic revival – true revival where
people repent – but it never came. The abortion mills chugged along
relentlessly, and slowly society – and the church – became acclimated to it.
United States adopted torture as a method of interrogation after 9/11 it wasn’t
surprising – at least not to me. I saw it as the inevitable consequence of
decades of increasing decadence and desensitization to violence. The fact that
torture was supported by a Republican administration was also not a surprise.
In the mid-1980s top Party officials had bluntly informed me that I needed to
face facts: they had no intention of actually changing the profitable abortion ethos. One politician sucked on his
index finger and stuck it in the air. “I just vote how the wind is blowing,” he
chuckled nonchalantly. No conscience, no conviction.
self-professing conservatives, who for decades had arrogantly asserted that America
was of a higher moral fiber than the Soviets, ended up adopting the very
methods of brutality (not to mention lack of due process) that had been
championed by Joseph Stalin. Solzhenitzyn vividly depicted this transformation process
in Russia in a chapter titled “The Interrogation” in his book The Gulag Archipelago (Volume 1):
the intellectuals in the plays of Chekhov who spent all their time guessing
what would happen in twenty, thirty, or forty years had been told that in forty
years interrogation by torture would be practiced in Russia; that prisoners
would have their skulls squeezed within iron rings; that a human being would be
lowered into an acid bath; that they would be trussed up naked to be bitten by
ants and bedbugs; that a ramrod heated over a primus stove would be thrust up
their anal canal (the “secret band”); that a man’s genitals would be slowly
crushed beneath the toe of a jackboot; and that, in the luckiest possible
circumstances, prisoners would be tortured by being kept from sleeping for a
week, by thirst, and by being beaten to a bloody pulp, not one of Chekhov’s
plays would have gotten to its end because all the heroes would have gone off
to insane asylums….
it was that the conclusions of advanced Soviet jurisprudence, proceeding in a
spiral, returned to barbaric or medieval standards. Like medieval torturers,
our interrogators, prosecutors, and judges agreed to accept the confession of
the accused as the chief proof of guilt.
around, comes around. The rise of threatening brutality would inevitably target
free speech. Free speech is rooted in the biblical mandate to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15)
and to spread the Gospel of salvation message:
- These are
the things that ye shall do; Speak
ye every man the truth to
his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth
and peace in your gates: (Zech. 8:16)
- But [Paul] said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. (Acts 26:25)
- In Whom ye also trusted,
after that ye heard the word of truth,
the Gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were
sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, (Eph. 1:13)
The level of
defense of free speech and satire since the Charlie
Hebdo killings has been astonishing. Yet even with the massive support
worldwide there is an undercurrent of increasing unease. The threat of
retribution looms. The potential for more brutality lurks everywhere. Violence prowls
around all of us who write publicly.
In America we
have become accustomed to the Christian Right charge that its “free speech” is
being threatened by the Liberal Leftists with their politically correct causes.
Indeed, this is a most perplexing inconsistency, especially in evidence on
college campuses. There are apparently some on the Left who hold such
aggressive agendas that they are willing to shut down the free speech of any opposition.
So much for the First Amendment. So much for our 1960s dreams of tolerance and
true diversity. The intellectual ideal of free and open debate in a pluralistic
society is gasping to survive.
But the Left
isn’t the only group that sold out its ideals. The Right also, particularly with
the cooperation of the Religious Right, has abandoned the moral and ethical
high ground. The mainstream evangelical press, not to mention the seminaries,
fell away from their high calling decades ago, leaving in its wake a sadly
truncated and denuded Gospel message. In this vacuum there arose a newfound zeal
for mega-affluence, guru-like stardom and self-centered mysticism.
tide of vacuity and vanity effectually crippled the Christian voice of
conscience and conviction – just at a critical time when the world was starving
to hear it. The moral and ethical integrity that might have raised its voice
against the tortures after 9/11 was silenced as the church morphed into a garish
caricature of itself. Even the elite cadre of Emergent/ing special forces were
silent. Being hip was more important than being truly counter-to-the-culture. Weep
Those of us
who published the plain old-fashioned Scriptural message, who warned of these faulty
teachings and their superstar leaders, found ourselves sidelined. In fact, many
of us had been blacklisted since the 1990s in the mainstream evangelical
“industrial complex.” We have amazing stories we could tell… if anyone cared to
It is a
different day now, a scarier time. Words are powerful. Wielded words are perceived
as even more threatening than wielded swords. Words have always offended the
powers-that-be sitting on the religious and political thrones of the world. The
Word of Truth has the potential to offend nearly everyone – The Gospel of Jesus
Christ is “a stone of stumbling, and a
rock of offence, even to them
which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were
appointed.” (1 Peter 2:9; see also Is. 8:14 and Rom. 9:33).
This blog has often warned about
the increasing use of militant language by those who are teaching radical new
eschatologies of Dominionism. We presume that we may become a primary target – on
that day when its teachers shift gears from their violent rhetoric to calls for
real extermination. Shockingly, some of these extremists are now enabled to go
mainstream thanks to their newfound associations with reputedly godly leaders –
leaders who we had once hoped would have the courage to speak out against them.
Now these compromisers can be found riding with the herd on the conference
circuits and speaking platforms of the NAR and IHOP. Evidently hitching a ride
with this unsavory group is viewed as a ticket to fame and fortune. God help us
all! Even worse, this fraternizing
with extremists is being justified as a way to extend God’s Kingdom.
pockets of good news. Especially since the demise of Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill
networking empire. Decent, ordinary people got hurt. They are sharing their
stories of abuse, enabling others to gain courage. They are asking hard
questions, looking into the history of Leadership Network, following the money
trails, re-thinking the postmodern mantras, and publishing their findings
publicly on the Internet. They’ve learned that waking up to reality hurts. It
is hard thing to do when a darkening dusk has settled over the slumbering
church on earth. They look around and ask – where are the men who should have
been standing with them? They are learning just how far the mighty have fallen.
diminishing rapidly. Shortly after the television interview mentioned at the
beginning of this post I ran Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s film The Silent Scream (depicting an ultrasound of an actual first
trimester abortion) on a local television station. I appeared on the panel
discussion. Shortly afterwards a death threat arrived in my mailbox. For the
next several years I never went anywhere unaccompanied. Two burly men served as
my bodyguards. Were they armed? Only with prayer.
wrote an amazing piece of advice, found in the same chapter of his book. He applied
it to interrogation and imprisonment, but shouldn’t we also apply it to our
daily walk as Christians?
the moment you go to prison you must put your past firmly behind you. At the
very threshold, you must say to yourself: “My life is over, a little early to
be sure, but there’s nothing to be done about it. I shall never return to
freedom. I am condemned to die – now or a little later. But later on, in truth,
it will be even harder, and so the sooner the better. I no longer have any
property whatsoever. For me those I love have died, and for them I have died.
From today on, my body is useless and alien to me. Only my spirit and my
conscience remain precious and important to me.”
by such a prisoner, the interrogation will tremble.
the man who has renounced everything can win that victory.
forewarned us, “For which of you, intending
to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28). Likewise Paul wrote that we are to consider ourselves as “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life
also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:10). Should we
fear? Or not!
There are many
voices who have not yet spoken out, who have stayed silent for fear of
retribution. (Prov. 29:25.) It is time. It is time for them to speak, to not be
silent. May God grant us all courage for the time that remains to us upon this
“But in all things
approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions,
in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in
labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by
longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word
of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand
and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as
deceivers, and yet true; As
unknown, and yet well known; as
dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet
alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Cor. 6:4-10)
“I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire,
that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do
not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” (Rev. 3:18)
article “How Can There Be Revival Without Repentance, starting on page 3 of the
Sept./Oct. 2001 Discernment Newsletter:
This post is authored by Sarah H. Leslie, editor of the Herescope blog. Many of the topics mentioned in this post have been constant themes on this blog over the past 10 years.