The Battle Is Ugly, and It’s Ramping Up Fast. Fight On, With Hope!

By Tom Gilson Published on October 18, 2018

The battle is ramping up. Fast.

It hit me hard last weekend when I read Michael Brown’s Stream column, “A Message to the Bigots in Scotland.” Authorities there have put up billboards urging citizens to turn in people who don’t toe the progressive party line. Do you see it? Here’s a Western nation that’s openly gunning for Christians who believe what the Bible teaches — and what all of Western civilization has taught for centuries now. 

This is stunning. It’s got me asking questions I never thought I’d be asking here in America: What kind of battle is this, really? How do we fight it? What hope do we have in the midst of it?

National Review contributor David L. Bahnsen is asking the same questions. He’s got the first two answers right, and brilliantly so. It’s a great column, so I want to spend some time on it here — though he didn’t do so well on the third question. I’ll need to bring in another source for that one.

What Kind of Battle Are We In?

The battle is ugly, in a word. It’s nasty. Bahnsen speaks it clearly: “The left does not wish to co-exist with the right in this country; they wish to extinguish them. … What we are living through right now is an unprecedented level of hate, dishonesty, distrust and mistreatment.”

He’s right. Witness Hillary Clinton’s recent comments on why she “cannot be civil” with Republicans: “I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.”

What kind of battle is it? How do we fight it? What hope do we have in the midst of it?

You’ve got to appreciate her honesty: They want what they want, and they won’t be civil until they get it.

It’s not mere incivility, though, and it’s not just about politics. Sociologist George Yancey has documented how desperately American elites hate Christianity. The left-leaning “More in Common” group tells virtually the same story — albeit not in so many words — in another social research report.

How Do We Fight It?

So how do we fight such ugliness? Not their way. Bahnsen is right on this, too:

I believe in civility, character, and decorum. … In engaging those who would prefer we be squashed, silenced, and ruined, we will not seek to squash, silence, or ruin them.

You might even say, “When they go low, we go high.” Funny thing: It was a Democratic former first lady who said that — in severe contrast to another Democratic former first lady, whose counsel is to stay low, low, low. We refuse — we must refuse! — to answer in kind. Bahnsen agrees with this; he’s committed to it; yet this commitment worries him:

I am confessing it to be a liability. It is a liability for me, but also for all of my colleagues at National Review who are similarly handcuffed by standards of decency and morality. These handcuffs are a liability because in the present culture war, the other side has no such self-limiting governor in place.

The left will gladly use weapons of destruction against us that we cannot deploy in return. And for that reason, Bahnsen concludes in his final statement, “we may just be sowing the seeds of our own destruction.”

Is There Hope In This Battle?

That’s where he gets it wrong. We can fight this battle God’s way, by His power. And we can count on winning it His way in His timing.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should.

Speaking of timing, it just happened (if you believe in things just happening, which I do not) that I read Psalm 18 this morning, a couple hours before reading Bahnsen’s column. The connection is unmistakable. Psalm 18 is  David’s victory song following the defeat of King Saul. Until that day, Saul had been an elite, powerful and unscrupulous leader, hunting David down out of his own self-interested need to hold on to power. For years he’d had David outmanned and outgunned, and he was willing to do whatever it might take to destroy him.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should.

Staying Godly Is the Victory

Yet David had his opportunities, too. Twice (1 Sam. 24 and 26) he had Saul in easy reach. Twice his comrades urged him to strike the fatal blow. Twice he refused to “stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed.” He knew it would have been the wrong kind of victory.

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And he knew he didn’t need to do it the wrong way, for he wasn’t as outmatched as he appeared to be. David cried out to God, and God “bowed the heavens and came down … He sent out his arrows and scattered them.” (Psalm 18:14) God was there for him. Whose side was outgunned now?

God’s answer was directly tied to David’s integrity (Psalm 18:20-21):

The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.

His godly response wasn’t the seed of his destruction, it was the secret to his victory.

But Can We Fight This Battle?

Some might ask whether we should even fight; for if God wins that way, maybe all we need to do is pray and stay pure before God. But that’s not the message of the psalm. David was still a warrior. God “trains my hands for war,” he says, “so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (Psalm 18:34)

That’s how God secures His victories. That’s why we can hold on to hope.

The New Testament echoes all these themes. “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds,” says Paul the apostle. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

The world’s strongholds may be ugly. Their methods may be nasty. We don’t fight with their methods, but with God’s. By His divine power we can take down arguments and “lofty opinions.” That’s how God deploys us in these battles. That’s how God secures His victories. That’s why we can hold on to hope.

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