Taking the Cities with Bojidar Marinov:
A friend of mine from Brazil, who is working to start a Reformed church in a large city, asked me a few weeks ago, “How do you do urban missions from a theonomic perspective?”
It’s a very important question. In fact, I can safely predict that this will be the most important question for the next generation of missionaries. And it is a huge question too; and it will require much more than one or two articles to be answered. But I will try to lay the foundation for the answer, at least.
There are several reasons I believe it is a very important question, if not the most important practical question about missions in our generation.
First, because Biblically, we should expect a movement from rural to urban, from the country side to the cities, and we should expect the Christendom to be centered in the cities, and be built from the cities to the country side. The Bible starts with a Garden and ends with a City. While I know that the meaning of the City is largely symbolic, the change is of the deepest significance.
We need to take the cities.
It’s the natural Biblical pattern of growth and development, where the last becomes first, the truth rises from the bottom to the top.
The good guys haven’t won until the mountain has been taken: and God expects us to take that mountain!
Second, historically, God has increasingly worked for the advancement of His Kingdom through cities. True enough, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Patriarchs, and all of Israel until the time of entering the Promised Land under Joshua, were predominantly agricultural. But that was because they were still pilgrims. They hadn’t found the Promised Land yet. When the Israelites moved to the Promised Land, their life was organized around cities. The cities were the centers of their military defense. Living in cities that they didn’t build was part of the promise (Deut. 6:10). And even before they entered the land, the cities were declared to be the center of their judicial authority (the city elders, see Deuteronomy chapters 21-25).
You see that city? You have to take it.
God has the right of sovereignty over all, and the Kingdom isn’t in its proper place until it is dominant in the cities and in the countryside. Wherever people are, that is where God wants His laws enforced and His truth proclaimed… and His enemies ground down, and pushed off their platform of lies and theft and bloody murder.
As Pastor Joe Morecraft pointed out in a recent sermon, the wisdom described in Proverbs 8 speaks to a city man, in an urban setting. So while the land was the basis of their economy and was divided between the tribes, God made the cities be the foundation of the society of Israel. This was later acknowledged by Jesus when he based his evangelism strategy on the cities (Luke 10:10). And He declared curses on cities as communities (Luke 10:13, Matt. 23, Luke 13), pointing to their covenantal significance.
We can say, both the Law and the Gospel were centered around cities, and the cities were and are important in the administration of both.
The cities belong to God, and not to Satan. Get it back!
Third, from an economic standpoint, it is the cities that make it possible to pool together economic resources and human creativity at the lowest cost (due to low transportation costs and the economies of scale) and thus produce more goods. The economic aspect of society is often ignored by pietistic Christians, and especially by missionaries, but it shouldn’t be. The Bible states many times the promise that the covenant-keepers will increase in numbers; the Dominion Mandate in Genesis 1:26-27 has never been cancelled, and it continues to be the foundation for historical blessings and cursings even after the Fall (see Deut. 28; also, Gen. 12:2-3). But if covenantal obedience leads to the blessing of demographic increase, then by default it must lead to economic blessings as well. Otherwise, increased population without increased economic output will only produce more misery and curse (as is happening with covenant-breakers around the world today).
Indeed, because cities tend to attract talent, we should expect to see a culture that values talent and innovation undergo an increased rate of urbanization compared to other cultures. For example, after the Reformation in Europe, the Reformed communities saw a significantly greater movement of population to the cities.
The cities belong to those who choose to have children, to win the future.
That will be us, those who fear and obey God and not some pro-abort anti-future child-killer.
As Gary North mentioned in his book Millennium (footnotes deleted):
Point five is the issue of eschatology. Man’s past, present, and future are covenantally intertwined. Christianity has always affirmed the linearity of history: creation, fall, redemption, and the final judgment. Western Christianity, especially Puritanism, has at times also affirmed the possibility of progress within this linear temporal process: history can be “linear upward.” The widespread public acceptance in the West of the twin concepts of scientific progress and economic growth was closely related to the spread of Puritan postmillennial eschatology.
It was a secularized version of this Puritan vision of progress that was adopted by Enlightenment humanism: progress without God’s sovereignty, authority, law, historical sanctions, or final judgment. The past was seen as being pregnant with the future.
This humanist vision is now fading. Nisbet is probably correct regarding the cause of the late twentieth century’s loss of faith in progress: “There is by now no single influence greater in negative impact upon the idea of progress than our far-flung and relentless jettisoning of the past.'” The humanists also failed to understand why disrespect for the past would lead to loss of faith in the present: we are all becoming part of the past. We, too, will be jettisoned by future generations. Our works and dreams will be cast out of future men’s thinking. We will be consigned, as Communist Leon Trotsky put it, to the ash can of history. So, what kind of commitment to such future ingrates can modern man be expected to reveal? Very little. Millions of people today are increasingly ready to abort the future, as well abort the yet unborn who would otherwise become the future. Western society has become increasingly present-oriented, with fateful consequences for Western culture. Present-orientation is a denial of the very foundations of Western culture: respect for the past and faith in the future.
Summarized in Proverbs 8:35-36
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
And in Exodus 20:12
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Don’t live in the past: but remember it, and be inspired by the heroes of earlier Christians, who fought – and won! – in conditions worse than you had.
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. — Hebrews 111:32-33
If David and Samson – they with the serious lust-control problems — can enter into the Kingdom with honour and respect, then so can you!
On Islam’s Refusal to kill It’s Own Children:
Naturally, Islam as a belief system despises the Son of God… and so naturally hate God and His Law… and instantly hate the Church and seek to slaughter men — aka the Image of God.
But they love the idea of conquest, and they’re smart enough that the guy with the bigger army gets to win the war. Guess what happens when they realize that the army with the most votes gets to rule. And in Islam, as Erdogan of Turkey said, democracy is like a street car: “You ride it until you arrive at your destination, then you step off.”
This is the same man who controls a bridge leading from Asia to Europe: you have to pay to get to Asia… but getting to Europe is free!
How thoughtful of him – a real Brotherhood man!
In contrast, you have Childless Secular Europe, living only for pleasure today, thinking that a bunch of rules and regulations and a sterile cultural heritage (complete with empty and rotting cathedrals) will protect her from the teeming crowds of intensely hostile and deeply envious neighbours.
Rules and regulations that are NOT enforced, and nations that are NOT protected, by Europe’s long-murdered sons, denied even a chance to breathe.
If Christians will not take the cities, you can be sure that others WILL!