This is a review/requote of Bojidar Marinov’s Mission of the Cities (2), which also doubles as a guideline on how to bring a culture into a Christian Reformed state of mind.
(As opposed to cowering somewhere, shivering in fear, waiting for the Rapture.)
The post is divided into two parts:
- Family and Bible-grounded churches founded and nurtured by families
- Businesses as the building blocks for growth, prosperity, and dominion
The Biblical model for the family is the nuclear family: a man, his wife, and their dependent children. No matter what situation the family is in, the Bible does not prescribe any additional covenantal authority over the husband; there is no concept of extended family, or a clan, as a covenantal unit or institution. From the very beginning, the boundaries around the nuclear family are clearly established in Gen. 2:24. A man – which should mean in the context a grown up adult – should leave the covenantal authority of his parents, and start a new covenantal family with his wife. While Isaac lived in the same geographical place with his father Abraham, and Jacob and Esau lived with Isaac, the evidence is that they had separate households and made their decisions separately from their fathers. The New Testament also establishes the covenantal boundaries around the nuclear families in Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 11:3: “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman.”
In the society of the fallen man, especially in rural settings, the temptation has always been toward replacing the nuclear family with the clan, where one family head controls all the families within his jurisdiction and acts as both civil government and religious priest over them.2 That model is rejected by the Bible, and it is oriented toward stagnation, not toward dominion. The nuclear family, as Gary North points out, provides maximum harmony.3
But in the context of the big city, a different temptation is present, one which acts in the opposite direction: the atomization of the society and the individual, and the flight from all human institutions, including those that are Biblical, good, and effective. Including the family. By a combination of factors – cultural, economic, psychological – the big city seems to discourage its young people from forming families, or, when they form them, from having children…. The problem has been discussed by many Christian authors, both in previous centuries and in modern days, but one main aspect of that problem is especially troubling: that the more individuals rely on a centralized government to supply all their needs, the less willing they are to rely on the Biblical family as a covenant institution.
The lying God-State at work. It comes up again and again, as the fatherless masses cry out for a Master to Save Them… a human Master, who gives out the goodies without the demand for righteousness and justice… or even hard work, often enough.
Every missionary who went to work in an urban environment, has encountered the problem of too many single young men and women (mostly single women), and very few families. The problem is especially persistent in Europe where the memory of two world wars and the several decades of Communism in the East and socialist policies in the West have dealt a serious blow on the family as a covenantal institution. (I avoid the label “traditional family” for it has no identifiable meaning from a Christian perspective.) In many places, and especially in the urban regions of the world, the family is not the basic institution of the culture.
This is mainly because in the context of a pagan culture, subjection and service are seen in negative terms, as a drain on one’s life, and as a liability which interferes with the “self-development” of the man or the woman. Rushdoony explained how the Christian family is based on the principle of mutual subjection and service.4 Without Christianity, there is no understanding of the moral value of mutual subjection and service, and therefore there is no psychological or emotional fuel for young men and women to spend efforts to start and build a family.
Man doesn’t become free by rejecting the Biblical principle of mutual subjection in the family; he only replaces it with totalitarianism and tyranny.5 The flight from the Biblical family in the cities has been the main factor which produced socialism. It is no wonder that in the 20th century the big cities have become a fertile ground for socialist ideas, as well as an endless supply of voters for statist political agendas. It has nothing to do with the supposed “modernity” of the city dwellers, nor with any social “progress”; the prevalence of socialist ideas in the cities is the direct product of the abandonment of the family as an institution. An atomistic society of lonely men and women will naturally try to embrace another principle of cohesion. If it’s not the family, then it must be the state. Mutual love and subjection and service in the family then is replaced with subjection and servitude to the state, without any love whatsoever.
Obviously, Atheists, Secularists, and Muslims naturally despise the Christian Faith; but even if the Leader calls himself a Christian, there is a distinct scent of idolatry if he is the focus of fear, and not God.
To have a society where men Fear God and His Law is the goal: not a baptized humanism, where Christians stinking with fear turn to a strongman for protection from their ideological enemy. The arm of flesh will fail Christians, from King Saul to Donald Trump (or even a future President Pence, and onwards until we finally learn our lessons.
[Naturally, I have no problem with Christian supremacy… so long as the general population is actually Christian, and actually wants Divine Law as the basis of government. A Christian state without a Christian culture as its foundation is just a waste of time and energy at best, a baptized tyranny at worst.
I have serious doubts about the supposed “Christian supremacist” Pence though. Does he even know what the Law demands? Noting his support of the Patriot Act, the War on Drugs, Stop-and-Frisk, etc, he seems more of the authoritarian Christian of the Franco mode.
Best for actual Theonomists and Christian Reconstructionists to keep their distance.
Politics comes fourth – after the individual, church, and family (business). (And politics is just part of community). And even in formal politics, it’s local first, and national last.
Do your ground work FIRST.
“So, You Want to See the Country Changed Politically. Here’s How.“]
Anyways, let’s turn our eyes from the political distractions, and get back to the core of the issue: God, Family, Business, City… and Victory.
And then, of course, the state in its turn implements policies that additionally atomize the society and separate the individuals from each other, until the only social cohesion that would be tolerated by the brainwashed majority is the cohesion of the crowd under the dominance of the political elite. The individuals end up dealing only with the government in all their endeavors – whether in business, or in welfare, or in intellectual development – while all other institutions except the government are left without any purpose for existence. The family has no reason for existence in such a society; and therefore, the church and the faith in Jesus Christ have no foundation in it. A culture of single men and women dependent on the state is a Satanic culture, even when there is no direct worship of demons involved.
As we all should know, Satan does not require personal worship per se… all that is needed is the worship, adoration, and fear of something or someone other than Jesus Christ.
- A billion ways to die…
- A billion ways to fail…
- A billion ways to hell…
- But only ONE way to LIFE…. Jesus Christ, the Son of God!
A missionary who wants to build the church in such setting, then, must make sure he builds families. As I mentioned above, the synagogue model requires at least ten families for a synagogue to be established. Without families there is no church, and there is no Christian culture. And in the context of the big city, the problem of lack of families is a major problem. And that might turn out to be the greatest challenge of a culture-changing missionary.
It is fashionable today in many churches and groups who call for a return to the Biblical family to mainly look at the family as a “relationship,” and to emphasize the “relationship” aspect of it. The family is mainly preached and described in terms of the love between a man and a woman, or of the mutual respect, and the joys of having children around, or of how a father should spend time and show affection and attention, etc., etc….
There is a problem with this approach. And the problem is that it is female-oriented, just as the concept of “relationship with Jesus” is female-oriented. I have talked more about this problem in the church, and how the church destroys the Christian family, in my article, “Relationship vs. Purpose: How the Church Destroys the Christian Family.”
A wise missionary, then, will preach the family as it is described in the Bible: as the basic institution for the fulfillment of the Dominion Mandate to man. Man was created to work and conquer (Gen. 2:15); and the family must be preached as the institution to give him the tools to work and conquer. Without a family, a man is unable to be a successful worker or conqueror (Gen. 2:18). He needs the family in order to achieve God’s purpose for his life, and for the lives of those around him.
- The goal is not survival.
(Something that Our Compassionate Masters – be they Secularist, or be they Islamic – would be sure to deny eventually.)
- The goal is not relationships.
- The goal is obedience to God.
- The goal is victory!
The bold in the paragraph below is mine:
The reproductive function is not simply having children but also teaching and training these children to know God, know His Law, and obey His Law in their life. Therefore, together with preaching Christian families, a missionary will also teach the parents to take the responsibility for teaching their children, especially in cultures where government education has become the accepted cultural norm. There is no true Christian family where the parents have abdicated the responsibility of training their children to those outside of the family, and especially to unbelievers. The economic function consists of the family’s place as a trustee of God’s resources. It includes wise management but it also includes care for the poor and needy, and especially care for the elderly. Just as the family must reclaim the education of its children back from the state (and sometimes from the church), so the family also must reclaim the economic initiative and the welfare functions back from the state (and sometimes from the church). In the cities, where the covenantal family has been under severe attack, a missionary must start preaching the purpose and the function of the family from the very beginning of his mission. A Christian culture can not be built without Christian families who are restored in their purpose and function under God.
Victory everywhere means hardened, tough Christian families everywhere: families that multiply, families that are obedient to God and His Law-Word, families that plan to WIN.
(And not just in this generation, or just one lifetime!)
Businessmen as Teachers
I said above that the modern church has insulated itself into something similar to a pagan temple, an institution limited to providing liturgy and religious experience on Sunday morning. I also said that a culture is captured not when Sunday morning is captured but when Monday morning, and every other week day, are captured.
God wants dominion over all the week, not just a few hours on Sunday… when it doesn’t interfere with football.
Many churches, then, after having defined themselves in such limited way, realize that not capturing the week days makes them lose the hearts of their members, and that much of the significant and relevant life of their members happens outside of the “church,” during the week. The solution then is not to expand the definition of the church beyond the limited institutional setting and the strictly religious gathering on Sunday morning but to expand the number of religious activities within this limited definition of the church. Instead of capturing the weekdays, many churches are working hard to destroy the weekdays and replace them all with Sundays.
Craven cowardice and insipid failure, cloaked with piety and pretty pious words.
Tons of time on secondary duties, and nothing for the primary duty: gaining dominion over the earth, in the way and the manner that God demands.
Why would anyone think that God would be pleased with that?
Don’t they think that God sees?
[This blog writer believes that gaining dominion over just one world isn’t enough, as Christ isn’t Lord of just one world… but even if my opinion is wrong, it is absolutely Biblical for Christ to demand the discipleship of all nations on His Victory starts on this Earth, in our lifetimes.
God demands the discipleship of all the nations, and we — His servants, His agents — filled with the Holy Spirit, must and shall bring it to pass!]
Many American missionaries abroad have adopted the same approach to “church-planting”: Once a “church” is formed, the main concern becomes what activities need to be devised and organized so that the “church” justifies its own existence. The goal is to capture the time the new converts spend “outside” of the church service. Since most American missionaries have no comprehensive Biblical worldview and are unprepared to speak and teach to all areas of life,
…a.k.a.: unprepared to fight, and unprepared to win…
such activities are designed to be a substitute for solid Biblical instruction about the practical life of the new believer during the week, in his family, his job, his business, his political activities, his recreation, his intellectual endeavors, etc.
Such approach, while it is taken for granted by the modern church, is in essence dualistic, and therefore not Biblical. It assumes the duality of life – church vs. secular – and therefore assumes that there are two areas of life regulated by different laws. It denigrates the practical life and work of a believer to be “lower-class” compared to his “spiritual” or “church” life; and then it attempts to replace that practical life and work with a set of irrelevant activities believed to be “spiritual” or “evangelistic.”
No stealing from God is to be permitted… not even in the name of the Church!
(And in this case, the thing being stolen is the entire world outside of the four walls of the church – not just material, but irreplaceable time!
Does the word sacrilege mean anything to our fearful, escape-minded leadership?)
But Biblically, the time from Monday morning to Saturday night is time for work (Exo. 20:9). And it is exactly work that most church activities are competing against, not the world as a system.
Amen, and amen!
Work, of course, includes both the actual process of working, but it also includes rest and recreation which make work bearable. The time during the week is supposed to be time of work, not time of activities with the only purpose of making people busy “for the church.” When a church is trying to take the time of its members during the week, that time is at the expense of work, and not at the expense of the “world.” (Church activities can be more worldly than any “worldly” job out there.)
Just when you thought the Catholic system of ecclesiastical tyranny/world domination was finished forever…
Many modern pastors, and many modern missionaries do not realize that work is not only not a “worldly” thing, but it is the most spiritual and ethical activity of all activities mentioned in the Bible. Based on the number of verses work is declared to be an ethical and spiritual virtue, it is more spiritual than prayer, church attendance, praise and worship, singing psalms and hymns, helping the poor, offering sacrifices, healing the sick, performing miracles, raising children, having the right relationship with other people, be nice to people, street evangelisms, etc., etc. From beginning to end, man’s very nature as the image of God is defined much more by the word “work” than it is defined by liturgy, relationship, or prayer. Man was created and put in the Garden, and the first task he was given was to work. The Law of God as given to the Hebrews, from beginning to end, presupposes a working culture, not a culture of religious observances. (Any religious observances were peripheral and temporary in nature.) The Promised Land was described as a place where work will be blessed, not cursed; the commandment for offering the first fruit presupposes they would work the land (Deut. 26:1-2). The exiles who went to Babylon had no formal liturgy anymore – God must not have considered it as important as it is for some modern liturgical zealots – but they were commanded to work and serve (the same word in Hebrew) there, building houses, planting gardens, and advancing the welfare of Babylon (Jer. 29:1-7; 40:9). And the warnings against laziness in the Book of Proverbs are far too many to list in one short article. In any case, the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 is almost entirely described as a working or businesswoman; and we know that she is portrayed there not only as a moral instruction to the believers today but also as a symbolic description of the Church.6
God expects us to centre our lives around work, labouring to bring His will to pass, guided by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Bible, and the Divine Law encoded within, as conveyed by Moses and modified/fulfilled/expanded by Jesus Christ.
We had better get to work: God is watching, and He is judging, weighing us in the balance, this very day, this very moment, continuously, forever.
Whether we like it or not.
Note especially the secondary and temporary nature of strictly-religious observances, and the primary and permanent nature of work.
Our modern interpretation of the Fourth Commandment often focuses on the Sabbath rest and we seldom stop to think that that commandment actually has two parts: work and rest (not work and worship). But Jesus challenged our modern interpretation and explained that the more important part of that Commandment is work; in John 5:16-17, he replied to the Jews concerning their interpretation of the Sabbath and their accusations, that “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”
An example for Christians to follow, when it fits the holy mandate to bring all under His dominion. On the other hand, God blesses His servants with rest, one day in seven: The Sabbath was made for Man, and not Man for the Sabbath.
In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus talks about the trees being good or bad according to what they produce. Immediately after that, He says that religious observances do not secure one’s place in the kingdom of heaven (vv. 21-23). And of course, that great parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 declares that refusal to work and produce and increase wealth may cost a man his place in the Kingdom. Jesus there specifically calls the servant, “wicked and lazy,” indicating that laziness is a vice. Paul told the Thessalonians to “do their own things and work with their own hands” (1 Thess. 4:11), and in case they hadn’t gotten the message, in his next letter to them he warned them that “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either” (2 Thess. 3:10). (Seriously, Paul? You’ll let a man starve just because he doesn’t work?) The threat of starvation must be a convincing testimony to the ethical importance of work in Paul’s thinking.
Paul is serious.
In general, work is considered in the Bible as more important and of a greater spiritual value than religious observances. Therefore, teaching the Biblical laws and principles about work, occupation, and business must be considered a priority for a pastor or a missionary, higher than teaching about church services, liturgy, or church organization. A missionary who doesn’t address work and business in his preaching, is delivering to his listeners a dualistic, almost Gnostic “gospel,” not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And therefore, a missionary who is making every effort to engage his converts in “church” activities during the week, thus taking from their time of effective work or recreation (which will make work bearable), is a missionary who is wasting his time and the money of his sponsors.
Gnostic dualism is a dreary, matter=evil, spirit=good lying delusion, that has been infecting the Church for far too long. Dump it in favour of God, who said that the physical creation was good.
A century ago, the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions still included changing the work and business habits of a nation in the legitimate tasks of a missionary;9 the testimonies of many of the missionaries at the conference in 1910 included the changing economic and business environment in places like Latin America, Turkey, India, and Eastern Europe as a result of spreading the Gospel. Such testimonies today are seldom heard of, and I have been criticized quite a few times by American Reformed missionaries for “diluting the Gospel” with focus on work and business.
The Gospel was explicitly created for the real world. For it is the real world that needs to be redeemed!
But work is a spiritual virtue, and a pagan society will naturally tend to despise, hate, denigrate, and reject work. No wonder; for the fallen man, work is curse, and the less time is spent in work, the happier the fallen man feels. Conversely, a Christian society will put a heavy emphasis on work and business, and on “redeeming the time” to use it in serving one’s fellow beings.
Bolded by me in the next paragraph: the two main purposes of work.
Work has two main purposes in the Bible. First, it is increasing the value of one’s capital. The parables of the talents and the minas are very clear about that. The examples of Abraham and Jacob are also very clear. The Old Testament expected of the faithful Israelites to build, and plant, and expand in the land. This first function of work includes production, management, investment, organization of production and labor, education and training, marketing, trade, and many others. Second, it is solving problems. In a regular day, where there are no accidents or unfortunate circumstances, a man works to increase his capital. But in a world that is not entirely under man’s control, there are contingencies which man must anticipate and deal with to prevent his capital from shrinking.10This second function of work may include insurance, contingency planning, protection of assets, maintenance and safety, damage control, rescue of human and non-human capital from dangerous situations, etc. This second function of work is so important that Jesus said it trumps the Sabbath regulations: Matt. 12:11 and Luke 14:5 show that safety, rescue, damage control, and protection of assets were permitted on a Sabbath day; Luke 13:15 shows that maintenance was permitted on a Sabbath day.
God made all good things for a purpose.
But people like to twist what God made for good, and use it for evil purposes.
… from very early in history the cities have attracted not only the most innovating and industrious members of the society, but also the most corrupt and the lazy. Sodom and Gomorrah were extreme examples but they were certainly not exceptions. Athens, Rome, and Alexandria had their share of the population which was committed to living without working. “Panem et circenses” was a successful policy of control exactly because the population of Rome expected bread and circuses; it was corrupt and lazy and it viewed physical labor as something only the slaves do. The same policy, represented today by the modern policies of government welfare, works mainly in the cities where there is a separate class of dependents on the government who have lost their ability and desire to ever be independent and productive. Even among those who have work and are better off, the welfare mentality runs strong. (In fact, welfare recipients can be found in all strata of society, from the poor to bank owners and CEOs.) So, what’s a missionary to do in the big city?
What’s the plan?
The solution is in returning to what I said above about the synagogue model for the church. A missionary must realize and accept the fact that the Church is not limited to the institutional organization and its gatherings, but it is also an organism, and its members are lawful representatives of the Church in their vocations. The missionary must also recognize that teaching work ethic, stewardship, and problem-solving is an important part of the Gospel, and therefore the church members must be encouraged to learn and practice those important Gospel virtues. Of course, every member of the church must be a hard-working member in his area of vocation and expertise. But the businessman, the entrepreneur, the innovator, is in a special position to learn, practice, and teach those skills. The Christian missionary has a special obligation to that specific type of person, and can reap results that can help his church and his work grow beyond the results of many modern missionaries.
The successful innovator successfully upholds the Dominion Mandate… and opens tedoor for others to do so even more succcesfully!
It is often assumed that business and entrepreneurship is about money and profit and getting rich. It is true that this is part of motivation of a businessman; just as part of the motivation of an employee is getting that paycheck at the end of the week. (In fact, very often the paycheck is a much greater motivation for an employee than is profit for a businessman.) But to declare the financial result the essence of business is the same as to accuse parents who have decided to have many children that their only motivation is to have someone take care of them when they retire. Of course, parents expect their children to take care of them. But there is much more to parenting than that. In the same way, there is much more to business than simply profit and getting rich.
I’m bolding the next sentence.
The essence of entrepreneurship is stewardship of resources. And these resources include raw materials, time, and – notice carefully – labor. In the context of the modern city, in a constantly growing population and an economy getting more and more complex, organization of labor becomes one of the main tasks of business. What is seldom realized by modern critics of capitalism – both Christian and socialist – is that industrial capitalism wins not because it is profit-oriented but because it is superior to other social systems in its organization of work. And since work is the highest spiritual virtue in the task of dominion, modern industrial capitalism will always take dominion, criticisms and predictions to the contrary notwithstanding. Making work more effective is a Biblical virtue; and businessmen and entrepreneurs, risking their own capital, and employing their own resources and skills, are the people who are taking up the task of making work more effective. As the Gospel grows, capitalism will grow, for it is the system that most effectively puts to practice the Dominion Mandate: increase and multiply, and take dominion over the earth. A businessman in the church, therefore, is just as important for spreading the Gospel as is the pastor, or the evangelist, or any other church occupation one can think of. He is a steward of resources, and especially of work. And work is a spiritual virtue.
Others extend their power by media control, by secret police, by terror and beheadings, by massive bureaucracies and welfare-state dependency.
God’s people expand the Kingdom of God by preaching the Gospel, building Godly families, and bringing all things to work for God’s glory and the benefit of covenant-keeping families by high-quality work, as entrepreneurs or as hired servants, experts, labour, magistrates, and skilled tradesmen.