I Prayed have prayed
Father, we pray that You would encourage true masculinity in the church. Empower all believers not to be weak and not to be brash, but to be humble, loving, courageous, and firm.

Analysis. There is a great need in the Church today for men to be men, to exhibit courage and conviction, to lead well and to serve well, to provide and to cover. In fact, the Greek verb translated “be courageous” in modern English versions of 1 Corinthians 16:13 is literally, “act like men.” Let the Christian men rise up and fulfill their unique calling, even as Christian women rise up and fulfill their unique calling as well. Both will need courage to stand.

Pray for your fellow intercessor.

 

But that is a far cry from the machismo version of the gospel, let alone the militarized gospel. To the contrary, those are striking examples of Christians creating a Jesus in their own image, a Jesus who caters to their flesh rather than calls them to crucify their flesh.

Of course, the wimpy Jesus, the always apologizing Jesus, the toothless Jesus, is not the Jesus of the Bible either. And we are certainly not called to follow that man-made version of the Lord.

The last thing we need is what missionary C. T. Studd (1860-1931) called “chocolate soldiers” who melt in the heat when the going gets rough.

According to Studd, their song sounds like this:

I must be carried to the skies

On a flowery bed of ease

Let others fight to win the prize,

Or sail thro bloody seas

Mark time, Christian heroes,

Never go to war;

Stop and mind the babies

Playing on the floor.

Wash and dress and feed them

Forty times a week.

Till they’re roly poly

Puddings so to speak.

Round and round the nursery

Let us ambulate

Sugar and spice and all that’s nice

Must be on our slate.

In contrast, said Studd, “Every true Christian is a soldier – of Christ – a hero par excellence! Braver than the bravest, scorning the soft seductions of peace and her oft-repeated warnings against hardship, disease, danger and death, whom he counts among his bosom friends.”

That spirit of courage, that heroic spirit of godly manliness, is under attack today.

But there is a difference between the courageous and heroic Church and the hyper-masculinized, even militarized Church

The former overcomes evil with good and vanquishes hatred with love. It refuses to deny Jesus even to the point of death. It is filled with courage and faith and truth. The latter confuses the gospel with fleshly anger, chest-beating, and sword-rattling, mistaking carnality for Christlikeness.

The apostle Paul was one of the most courageous leaders who ever lived, and for him, that meant following the example of Jesus. Speaking of himself and his fellow-apostles, Paul wrote, “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat.” (1 Corinthians 4:12)

Today’s version sounds like this: “When reviled, we respond in kind with a salvo of ugly words; when persecuted, we fight back, armed to the teeth and brandishing our weapons; when slandered, we launch a withering response.”

As I noted in The Political Seduction of the Church, in many of our church circles, meanness is considered more spiritual than meekness. This especially applies to preachers, and in the eyes of many, the nastier you are the more anointed you are.

In fact, in some circles, a sermon is not complete without throwing out some meanspirited political barbs, followed by a line like, “No one is going to shut me up and no one is going to take away my guns. In Jesus’ name!” And the people shout, “Amen!”

This is not the gospel and this is not the overcoming Church. This is a politicized, macho church that could easily become militarized.

To be clear, there are many fine Christians in the military and there are many fine Christians who strongly advocate for our Second Amendment right. There are also times that going to war is fully justified, and self-defense is not unscriptural.

But this is a far cry from the conflating of a worldly, carnal masculinity with Christian courage or, worse still, the call to take up arms in the name of the gospel.

My friend Ron Cantor recently pointed out that Hitler thought that “the Jesus of the Bible was effeminate and weak,” referring to Dean Stroud’s Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow.

Stroud wrote that for Hitler, this was “A Faith for Weaklings.”

Yes, “It was not only Jesus’ Jewishness that provoked Nazi hatred of orthodox Christianity. Along with worshiping a Jewish God, traditional Christianity praises virtues that Nazis found repugnant: love of neighbor, forgiveness, peacemaking, and humility, to name but a few… but in Nazi speech these are replaced by hatred, rejection, brutality, final victory, obedience to Hitler, and rejection of the weak, the ill, and the marginal.”

Many American Christians also despise these values, wanting to emulate the Jesus who overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple and drove out the cattle with a whip, while rejecting the Jesus who taught us to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek. (For the real meaning of “turn the other cheek,” which does not forbid self-defense or justifiable military action, see here.)

Looking back through Church history, Dr. John Dickson pointed out that, “The most remarkable sign of this medieval process of Christian militarisation is a ninth-century Old Saxon poem called the Heliand or ‘Saviour.’ It is a retelling of the Gospels’ account of Christ in the style of a pagan heroic saga. Jesus himself is described as a knight, and his apostles are his travelling war band.”

In fact, “Even the Sermon on the Mount— usually associated with an ethic of love— is transposed in the Heliand to describe the rewards given to the magnanimous warrior.”

Yes, “Words originally intended to inspire mercy, peace, and non-retaliation are retold in the Heliand as a kind of war speech from the head ‘Wielder’ about the rewards due to his good ‘war-men.’ The author of the Heliand is obviously attempting to modify the pagan warrior ethic in the direction of justice, but the modifications involve some accommodation to the warrior culture itself.” (See John Dickson, Bullies and Saints: An Honest Look at the Good and Evil of Christian History.)

So, Jesus is the Wielder of military weapons while His disciples, depicted in the Sermon on the Mount as those who will be persecuted and hated for their faith, are the “war-men,” in the literal sense of the words. They wield very real swords and march out to fight for the faith. Talk about turning the biblical text upside down and creating a Jesus in our own image.

Dickson cites Christopher Tyerman, who wrote, “In mediating between the Christian message and Germanic values, the vocabulary of Christianity itself adopted appropriate images accessible to warrior elites.”

Dickson adds, “Within this context, Christian discipleship could, without too much of a stretch, be extended to include real physical violence for Christ’s cause.”

To be sure, there is a holy war that we are called to fight as servants of the Lord. But it is not that kind of holy war, fought with physical violence or intimidation.

May God help us to learn these lessons from the past. We cannot afford to repeat them again.

How are you praying for biblical masculinity in the church? Share your thoughts and prayers below.

(Used with permission. Ask Dr Brown, by Dr. Michael L. Brown. Photo Credit: Jack Sharp on Unsplash)

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Terry Hudgins
September 18, 2022

I appreciate your efforts at attempting what appears to be a rather back-handed attempt to scold those who might hold Christian Nationalist values which may be a few degrees off from Patriotic Nationalism, depending upon who your audience might be. This country would not be even in existence today without those first shots fired on the green of Lexington & Concord by local church members and clergy. The “battle” we are facing is real, it is satanic, demonic, vile and despicable and depraved. This regime has weaponized the Justice Department and FBI against us, and now arming, training and deploying the IRS as the next fighting force! If they raid the home of the 45th President, what keeps them from raiding mine?? They have facilitated and paid for the use of gangs and thugs such as Antifa, Black Lives Matters, MS13 through miscreants like Soros, Zuckerberg and other Democrat billionaires. There are about 1.5 million who lost their lives in preserving our freedoms over the years and many many more who served this country to get us to where we are today. Quite frankly, as a practical matter (non-biblical perhaps), I do not believe that these people whose lives were put on hold or paid the ultimate price should be marginalized in the least. As a result of this comment, I probably now fall in the category of a Christian Nationalist, but I have been called much worse in my lifetime. I grew up in Boston. I drove by the houses of John Adams and John Quincy Adams on a regular basis. I went to Plymouth Rock on multiple occasions and spent time on Ol’ Ironside and felt the significance of the spiritual connection to the men and women to brought this country about.

I have been reading a great deal lately on the defining characteristics of a Christian Nationalist and Patriotic Nationalist. I find the attempts to classify and pigeon-hole the Christian Nationalist as feeble and bogus. They argue that the American Flag should not be presented on the church dais; that if you fly the flag everyday, or you fly the “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden Flag; or the Thin Blue Line “Police Flag” then you are a Christian Nationalist, racist and evil. I believe that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are based upon the Word of God, which was used by at least 35 or more men who signed the Declaration of Independence who were pastors, teachers or associated with Christian church leadership. I think its time for men to stand up to the oppressive actions of this REGIME and I believe its is a duty to God and Country. Masculinity in the face of the LGBTQ agenda is a necessity for every father and grandfather. I look forward to your response.

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    Julie
    September 19, 2022

    Agreed, Terry!

    I recently unsubscribed from Dr. Michael Brown’s newsletter as I am dismayed over his numerous “back-handed” compliments to faithful Christians/loyal patriots such as President Trump and numerous pastors who speak out against the Democrat Party’s anti-christ agenda and radicalization. I don’t like to criticize a pastor, but Dr. Brown preaches a weird “middle of the road” political agenda that only furthers the gains of the Left in America. It’s such a shame because he is an interesting Biblical scholar, but I just can’t keep listening to him criticizing others for standing firm for Christians and patriots in America.

    Again, a real shame.

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