Fear God or Fear Man
Two men went viral last week within Christian and conservative social media circles.
The first man was Andy Wood, the lead pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. His virality came after he appeared last Sunday morning alongside his wife and fellow pastrix, Stacie Wood, the former dressed as Woody and the latter dressed as Bo Peep from the Toy Story franchise. Stacie patted her husband on the shoulder and thanked him for “being a very good sport about this,” proving who carried the lasso in the relationship as Andy gazed sheepishly at his audience.
Like many other megachurches across the nation, Saddleback Church is in the midst of a “Summer At the Movies” sermon series, in which the congregation’s pastors exegete blockbuster Hollywood films instead of the authoritative and sufficient Scriptures. Andy Wood fed his flock on Sunday, for example, with the eternal wisdom found in Toy Story 4.
“In terms that make sense only to Forky, Woody helps Forky finally understand his purpose as Bonnie’s toy,” he explained. “No matter how we might feel or see ourselves, God sees us as his invaluable treasure set apart for his amazing purposes.”
The second man was Marcus Schroeder, a member of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin. His virality was due to his arrest last Saturday at a public drag queen performance targeted at children, where the young man chose to read the Bible with noise amplification and immediately felt the full force of the law. Video of police officers yanking a microphone out of his hands and marching him away in handcuffs, even as homosexual men twerked for small children only a few dozen yards away, garnered millions of views.
Marcus said in an interview with me at The Republic Sentinel that his arrest was more than worthwhile and would only serve to provoke him and his friends, many of whom likewise faced arrest and detainment, toward further boldness for the gospel.
“It’s actually an honor to be counted worthy to stand with the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and been arrested for the sake of spreading Christ and his kingdom,” he commented. “If the police wanted to try and set an example for others or anything like that, the only thing I’ve seen is actually the exact opposite, where more and more people are seeing the severity of what’s going on and being called to more action.”
In a longer interview with The Republic Sentinel, Marcus took the opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and his dominion over all of creation.
“Jesus told us to disciple the nations and teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded us, and part of the nations includes the culture,” he said. “It’s not that we’re just trying to get political. This is God’s world, and people have to live by God’s rules.”
The chasm between Andy Wood and Marcus Schroeder, needless to say, is enormous. The former was steeped in the waters of seeker sensitivity, megachurchianity, and general mainstream evangelicalism. The latter was forged in the fires of presuppositionalism, theonomy, and robust historic political theology, all of which would summarily be dismissed by men in the more respectable circles of the megachurch movement for lack of winsomeness and nuance.
As the Lord Jesus instructed us, however, trees are judged by their fruit.
The first tree bears the fruit of a Christianity which taught its adherents for decades to become all things to all people, even to the point of absurdity: in this case, dressing as a cartoon character for comic relief and preaching from a children’s movie. This same tree bears the fruit of countless false conversions and millions of adherents indistinguishable from the world. Men like Andy Wood will watch on the Last Day as countless souls march to judgment, having only been warned of the wrath to come with therapeutic deism and, in some cases, Toy Story.
The second tree bears the fruit of a Christianity which teaches its adherents to count the cost of discipleship, to joyfully embrace the hard truths of the faith, and to pursue godly masculinity to protect the weak and to slay the dragons in the land. This tree bears the fruit of zealous Christians who have little concern for the scruples of an effeminate age made squeamish by street preaching or other such endeavors, instead caring merely for the glory of Christ.
Only one of these two versions of the Christian faith has the capacity to build men able to stand firm in what could soon be the hardest days in the memory of Western Christendom.
In the cultural vernacular: good times create weak men, weak men create hard times, and hard times create strong men. In the biblical terminology: every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
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