A PRAYERFUL THOUGHT – VIGILANTE VIOLENCE ALWAYS BETRAYS THE CAUSE….PRAYER AND FAITHFULNESS FORTIFIES THE CAUSE
FRIDAY, January 8, 2021
Dr. Gregory Seltz
Rebellion is not simply vile murder but is like a great fire that kindles and devastates a country; it fills the land with murder and bloodshed, makes widows and orphans, and destroys everything, like the greatest calamity….there is nothing more poisonous, pernicious, and devilish than a rebellious man. (Martin Luther, “Reactions to Peasant Rebellions” (1525))
Violence, particularly vigilante violence, always betrays the cause. The violence of yesterday at the Capitol, is reprehensible and to be punished to the full extent of the law. Law and order—the rule of law, as we have argued many times before, is the basic foundation to a civil society. The peaceful concerns of many people who gathered yesterday were betrayed by vile acts of those who breached the Capitol to wreak havoc on our country. As Luther said in 1525 concerning the actions of the peasants of his day, their concerns (to which he was sympathetic) did not justify their murderous, rebellious actions. We can say much the same of those who were lawless yesterday.
There is a growing vitriol and violence associated with our political passions. People wish to blame this president for the situation, but the vile language and rhetoric has been growing for years. (I do not deny that our president has contributed in part to the problem, and even bears some responsibility for what happened yesterday). Language is one thing, violence is another. Many have already forgotten a similar breach on our government merely three years ago when James Hodgkinson attempted to assassinate GOP members of congress in 2017 purely for political reasons (He did wound Rep. Steve Scalise). And there’s the unjust and often unchecked violence on both sides of the issues of the last several months that have people of goodwill on both sides of these issues, dismayed.
Today, we say again unequivocally concerning these things, “Vigilante violence always betrays the cause, especially the cause of righteousness.” For those who were gathered yesterday in Washington D.C. to protest the issue of the past election, violence betrayed the cause. Like Luther during the “Peasant Uprising,” their concerns and issues were betrayed by the violence. The breach of the Capitol yesterday was inexcusable, and the perpetrators should be punished to the full extent of the law. Vigilante lawlessness, as we witnessed yesterday and over the last several months, can never serve the cause of the rule of law, justice, and civic peace…and must be uniformly rejected.
What is needed now more than ever? Prayer and faithfulness to God coupled with service to neighbor and to country. Christians have a civic and a missional opportunity and duty to fulfill on God’s terms for the sake of others. Today is the day to commit ourselves anew to His calling on our lives in the many vocations in which we live and serve. Civically, that calls us to be law-abiding citizens who denounce all vigilante violence even as we call for and demand a law-honoring government which protects all law-abiding citizens the same. It also means that we must bravely raise our moral and Gospel voice in the public square for the sake of the culture and the church. In all these things, we must also commit ourselves to prayer that God would heal our nation even as He draws us back to Himself in repentance and grace, civility, and virtue.
I am not sure if I fully knew what I was getting into when I took the position of being the Executive Director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty back in 2017. However, I had seen the growing abuses of government concerning the church and knew that the church would need to be defended and protected for its ongoing service. I see the growing intrusion still. I’ve also seen many of the DC political processes (protests included) from the inside or in person. Our view has always been that we need to be less dependent on government (both sides of the aisle included), more dependent on ourselves, our families, and our churches, and free to proclaim the whole counsel of God, especially His Gospel good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone—which is the only real solution to the many problems we currently face. Today we are reminded again that violence always betrays the cause….while prayer and faithfulness fortify the cause to bless the nation in which we are privileged to live.