Go Tell it on the Mountain

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This year, as our family celebrated Christmas, our background music featured the new hit a cappella group Pentatonix. My granddaughters entertained us by lip-synching to Little Drummer Boy and Go Tell it on the Mountain – a rendition that made the most of the song’s African American origins. Every time the CD cycled past that wonderful, raucous song a strange synapse fired off in my brain.

I’d see Bernard Whitman, sitting on a panel discussion on Megyn Kelly’s show, saying quite clearly that Christian beliefs should not be discussed “in the public square.” Whitman, who is openly homosexual, was saying this in reaction to Phil Robertson’s infamous quoting of 1st Corinthians 6, but the specific circumstances are not really germane. Whitman was stating a commonly held liberal attitude – keep your religious beliefs to yourself – a mandate that seems only to apply to Christians. The left is strangely silent about Muslim anti-gay pronouncements and punishments, or the Islamic public maltreatment of women.

We see this mindset in the death-by-a-thousand-lawsuits attack on open Christianity. The fear of legal proceedings has chipped away at all things publically biblical or traditionally Christian. No Ten Commandment plaques allowed. No crosses on hilltops. No Christmas carols. No “under God.” Shhhhhh. Don’t talk about Jesus. Shhhhhhhhh..

Why? Unlike Islam, Christianity threatens no one. Unlike the Hindu gods it doesn’t frown on the killing of rats or the butchering of cattle. Unlike Buddhism it doesn’t produce a caste system. Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. It threatens no one. And yet tens of thousands of Christians have been butchered recently by Muslims in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. America hasn’t reached that stage yet, but things are definitely leaning that direction. Antipathy usually ends in violence.

This keep-it-to-yourself attitude shows not only antipathy, but it also demonstrates incredible ignorance and narrow-mindedness. It assumes that:

     --No religion is true, that all metaphysical thought is merely fantastical imagination and fanaticism. Never mind the religiosity of the Darwinian-AlGorian-Marxist worldview.
      --That the Bible is just a compilation of the mumblings of old men and has no basis in history, archeology, or science.  Besides that, the liberal assumes that since Christians, and the Jews before them, have intensely debated the interpretation of biblical verses and doctrines that nothing can ever be known for sure about the Bible’s contents. It never occurs to them that this has been part of process of finding the truth – that little by little we are realizing how it all fits together. The complete rejection of a book that very few leftists have read, and even fewer have read open-mindedly, shows such narrow philosophical bias that it’s breathtaking, especially from people who pride themselves on their tolerance and acceptance, on their multicultural broad-mindedness.
    -- That Christians are a group of people who never sin and therefore see themselves as better than the average person. Are some of us so misguided? Yes. Does the Bible teach us such arrogance? Absolutely not. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Whitman let something slip in that Kelly File discussion; he said that no one should be allowed to say things that “make other people feel bad about themselves.”  That was more telling than he intended perhaps. Can Christians, or anyone for that matter, be held responsible for another person’s feelings about himself? No. Not even parents – eventually we all have to stand on our own feet.
     -- That it is possible for Christianity to be a private religious practice. Demanding that we be quiet would be like asking a quarterback to never throw the ball, to never run with it. The point is to spread the good news, to keep the ball moving toward the goal posts. We have that command directly from Jesus, “ And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ ” (Matthew 28:18-20)

This command is known as The Great Commission and the book of Acts gives us the history of just how the apostles went about doing that – first to the Jews, then to the Samaritans, and then to the Gentiles – the whole world. They didn’t, as Mohammed’s followers did, gallop through the Middle East hacking and slashing, raping and burning until much of North Africa, the Middle East, and a large part of Europe was joining them in bowing to Mecca. No. The early Christians merely walked from town to town talking in the local synagogues and later in public squares. They risked death everywhere they went and they suffered much, but they hurt no one, coerced no one, deserved none of what they got.

Have some Christian missionaries been clumsy and biblically ignorant and fixated on behavior rather than on belief? Yes. Has the Church allowed itself to be swallowed first by Roman Catholic dogma and then later by Calvinist and Reform theology? Yes. Did the Church eventually sink to the level of violence? Yes, but not because of biblical injunctions to do so. In fact, most of the people the Church persecuted were those who held to sola scriptura in spite of the power of Rome. It was G.K. Chesterton who once said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and not tried.” Many practices and attitudes carry the name of Christ but bear no resemblance to the doctrines clearly outlined in Scripture.

This is what the liberal needs to understand about the biblical Christian:
    -- He will not be quiet. He knows that without the willing sacrificial death of Christ on the cross he would be just as damned as the unbeliever. He knows he doesn’t deserve eternal life, that it is a free gift available to absolutely everyone who chooses to accept it. He knows that the eternal life of every person depends on what he or she thinks of Christ. How can he keep quiet about that? How can he keep that to himself? What kind of monster would he be if he kept that secret?
     -- He knows that his eternal destiny was sealed when he first believed. So he has to answer the question of why he’s still here. Why didn’t God just zap him off to heaven as soon as he realized that Christ was God? What does God expect of him? We are to “study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (2nd Timothy 2:16) We are to “take every thought into captivity for Christ.” (2nd Corinthians 10:5) We are to care for those less fortunate than we are, to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, to live our lives so that others see Him in us. We are to spread the good news. Such blessing fills the lives of those of us who know God that we can’t in good conscience keep still.
     -- The Christian sees the Bible as the literal Word of God. Does he think every phrase is literal? No, but a lot more of it is literal than not and the parts that are figurative are clearly, obviously so. He sees the whole Bible as divinely inspired; he doesn’t, if he is “rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” just pick and choose passages that appeal to him. He takes it seriously. It controls his worldview, his decisions. He cannot turn that on in church and off in public. He sees things differently. He is not of this world; he doesn’t want to offend anyone, but he has a job to do, and like the early apostles, like it or not, he will go tell it on the mountain.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'” (Isaiah 52:7)