ln The System Not of It
Daniel was the chancellor of the University of Babylon. Joseph was the vice-president in the pagan nation of Egypt. Obadiah was a member of Ahab's cabinet, righteously hiding prophets. Caesar's household was filled with Christians. Erastus was a city official in the pagan city of Corinth. In a very real sense, these Christians had some kind of truce with idolatry. They were not at peace with it, but according to the Scriptures, the constant total warfare against idols throughout history is waged in different way depending upon the circumstances.
But modern Christians appear to have two settings. Either they are oblivious to the pervasive idolatry within our nation today, or they see it, and then immediately attempt to drop out of the system. Either they think that Social Security numbers are as normal as it gets, or they think the numbers are the mark of the beast. But there are more options than just two.
One of the things we have to learn, as we repent of our individualism, is the lesson of balance. Gideon was a great man of God, one who tore down the Baal in the village square. And good for him. But the apostle Paul walked by the pagan temples in Athens regularly, and was thoroughly vexed by them, but no firebombing ensued; He testified and preached. His patient resistance set the stage for the overthrow of idolatry in Europe.
In the history of the Church, we see the same patterns. Some-times direct action is necessary, and we are all grateful when Jenny Geddes pitches her milk stool at the holyfellow's head. But at other times, God's people are called to identify the idolatry clearly, but to still suffer patiently under it, and sometimes, as God blesses, along side it. This is what we saw in the early church-they took three hundred years to topple idolatry, but topple it they did.
Americans want their reformations the same way they want their coffee-hot and now. But this kind of individualist impatience is antithetical to true reformation. It is one of the attitudes which must be reformed,
And so this means that those who simply drop out of the system as individuals are really true supporters of the statist democratic system. Individual choice is god, demos is god. Those who support the idolatrous system support the system, obviously. But those who "divorce" the system can support it too. Through quirky and meaningless resistance, they are actually strengthening the kind of individualism that laid the foundation of modern statism in America.
If we want out, we have to learn our lessons far more deeply, and two of them in particular- the lesson of covenant, and the lesson of patience.
In Law - "in" is "of"
Why is it that as soon as otherwise intelligent Christian leaders get down to the reformation of our relationship with the state, they just go to pieces? Is it ignorance, fear, or is your centralist ecclesiology showing!
How many other sins must we dare not repent of individually lest we be charged with the sin of "individualism"? We leave the government schools, we leave the incorporated church, we leave many doctrinal errors and many sins individually. Mr. Wilson rightly sees the relationship with the Social Security as analogous to marriage when he speaks of those who "divorce the system". The only way you can get a divorce is as an individual. So if the whole church with one voice should stand up and say "Doug divorces Nancy" it would carry absolutely no weight in law and have absolutely no effect upon their marriage. Why? Because they are not parties to that particular covenant! For a divorce to take place, one of the parties will have to do it as an individual! For Doug to divorce the SS System he would have to do it likewise as an individual. Divorce is not a mind set it is an action in law.
It is right to decry sinful individualism, but its most common and troublesome manifestations are by no means the "dropping out" of the "system"! Those who do so have not been spotted "fire bombing" SS offices anymore frequently than other repentants have the government schools or the incorporated churches. Following the Apostle Paul, they quietly "walk by them" rather than stop to offer a sacrifice. If you are going to stick by the label "quirky and meaningless resistance", you must at least apply it consistently. To call non-participation "resistance" is misleading. "Resistance" implies that participation in the Social Security Scam is required by force of law. This is contrary to common sense and established law. It is well known that the only way anyone can enroll in the program is by voluntarily completing the application process. Once you have voluntarily enrolled, participation with your "contributions" is no longer voluntary. Some people can exit easily some, for practical considerations, cannot exit at all.
Seeing the SS# as the "Mark of the Beast" is a problem. The problem. however, is one of eschatology not "law". If you meet an "SS drop out" that believes this, you should help him become a preterist, not chastise him for "freeing himself if he is able".
Finally, let us indeed learn the lesson of covenant more deeply by not entering our covenant children into this idolatrous system in the first place. If we can resist bargaining them away for a "tax break" the next step is to train them to earn their daily bread outside of this false covenant. They will then live lives free of federal intrusion, enjoying the blessings of honest work and all that is promised for true covenant faithfulness. Caesar's household was indeed filled with Christians, when it came to idolatry, so was his coliseum. For no man can serve two masters.
Happy and free in Canaan land.