What happens when an institution becomes more important than the cause for which the institution was formed? How long should people who believe in the cause remain loyal to such an institution? And at what point does loyalty to such an institution comprise an abandonment of the cause itself?
I’m afraid the majority of Americans have been institutionalized in a manner not unlike the way prisoners are institutionalized after a long period of confinement. After a point, a prisoner is so conditioned to accepting the circumstances of his confinement that, should he be released from confinement, he truly would be unable to cope. Such seems to be the mentality of a majority of us today.
Christians have been institutionalized. The reason and purpose of the church or Christian organization is no longer relevant. Generations have grown up reciting the same liturgies, regurgitating the same prayers, and rehearsing the same programs until the reason for it all doesn’t even matter. But take the institution away from them, and they would not be able to cope.
The Pharisees despised the Lord Jesus because He challenged the religious institutions that had come to govern people’s lives. I am convinced if Jesus came to America today, He would be just as despised by the vast majority of our religious leaders as He was by the Pharisees.
The Church that Jesus built in the Book of Acts owned no buildings, was indebted to no lenders, took no tax benefits from the civil government, had no denominational hierarchy, and identified itself with no ecclesiastical brand. And the Church was just as persecuted by the religious establishment as Christ was.
One of the reasons one may know that the modern church is so unlike Christ and the apostles is by the persecution that it never experiences. Just as the Pharisees were bosom buddies with the Roman Empire’s governing elite, so are our religious leaders today. Caesar was very generous in sharing the fruit of his tyrannically-extracted bounty with his allies in the Jewish Sanhedrin. And they were happy to return the favor by insisting that the Hebrew people submit to Caesar’s harsh rule over their lives.
The Pharisees also enjoyed a cozy relationship with the moneychangers. The moneychangers were descended from a long line of corrupt banking interests that dated all the way back to the Edomites. We are not talking about your friendly local banker here. These were highly organized, well-positioned money-manipulators. Jesus was so incensed with their manipulation and theft within in the Temple that he used physical violence to remove them from the property. He is recorded as doing this twice in the Gospel narratives. Note that after the second time in which it is recorded that He drove out the moneychangers (with a whip, no less), the Pharisees soon had Jesus crucified. There is no question that one of the reasons Pilate ordered Jesus to be scourged with a whip was in direct retaliation for the manner in which Jesus whipped the moneychangers. Remember, the moneychangers were from a very well-ensconced, elitist national (and even international) organization.
And lest you think all of this is irrelevant to today, the moneychangers are still very much with us. The Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and other members of the international banking elite, are the direct descendants of the moneychangers of Jesus’ day. And if you ever have an opportunity to ask one of them about it, they will proudly admit it.
Yes, the Pharisees institutionalized religion. This accomplished two things: 1) it helped enslave the people, 2) it helped make them rich. The institutionalized church is accomplishing much the same things today.
The establishment church is doing as much to enslave people as any other institution in the world. Our political institutions and educational institutions have nothing on the church for making good little subjects and serfs to the all-powerful state. And if you don’t think that a host of church leaders are not reaping the spoils from assisting our taskmasters, you’re not paying attention.
Many, if not most, of these big-name TV evangelists have as many houses and yachts and Swiss bank accounts as any big-name Hollywood actor or politician. In some cases, more. Most of these big-church pastors are bathing in luxury. Many of them take the kinds of vacations that only CEOs of the biggest corporations or presidents could afford. Do you really think that the IRS rules and regulations governing these non-profit corporations, called churches, really bother these church leaders? Get real!
No wonder all of these “successful” preachers are constantly teaching their congregations to always submit to the government. No wonder they have no interest in abandoning their 501c3 tax-exempt status. They are in the exact same position as were the Pharisees of old. And they are just as effective in helping to enslave people today as were the Pharisees.
The institution of the church—along with its programs, formalities, buildings, rituals, etc.,—has become more important than the purpose for which the church was created. Instead of preaching the liberating message of the Cross, which frees men from the fetters of sin—and that includes sinful political and financial fetters—the church is preaching a message of subjugation and enslavement. It is teaching people to submit to all kinds of oppression, including religious oppression.
Some of the most oppressed and subjugated people in the world are religious people. There are churches and Christian colleges that are every bit as tyrannical as anything coming out of East-bloc or Muslim countries. About the only thing missing is physical torture and execution. Spiritually, however, the oppression is the same.
How could real men who love the liberty they have in Christ allow themselves—and especially their wives—to be told how to dress, how to wear their hair, what kind of music to listen to, what kind of vacations to take, what restaurants they may or may not eat at, what forms of entertainment they may or may not participate in, etc., etc., ad infinitum?
I tell you the truth: many Christians in America are already slaves. To talk to them about freedom is a complete waste of time. The chains of tyranny are already clamped around their hearts. Why should it matter to them if chains are clamped around their necks? When they talk about “defending the faith,” they are talking about defending the institution. They are slaves to the institution. And the same is true for many unchurched Americans.
What is more important: liberty, or the government that is supposed to secure liberty? To a sizeable number of Americans today, it is more important to preserve the institution than the freedoms that the institution was created to protect.
Our Declaration of Independence states, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [the God-given rights of life, liberty, etc.], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Did you see that: “any form of government”? ANY FORM. The form of government is only as good as its ability to secure liberty.
I hear a lot of politicians and media personalities talking about “American exceptionalism.” This is a potentially dangerous mindset. If one means that America is exceptional in our history and the manner in which our Constitution and Bill of Rights were established to protect liberty, well and good. But if it means that America has carte-blanche to do anything it wants—no matter how unconstitutional or tyrannical—because it is “exceptional,” it is a bunch of hooey.
What difference does it make if we have a 50-State Union or not? There is a bill in the California legislature that would divide that State into six states. Five counties in Western Maryland are trying to secede from Baltimore. Ten northern counties in Colorado are trying to secede from Denver. If a State refuses to secure the liberties of the people of that State, they have every right under God to separate. The State is not nearly as important as the liberties of the people within the State.
The spirit of secession is actually growing like wildfire all over the world. In recent history, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo all separated from Yugoslavia. Transnistria broke free from Moldova. Abkhazia and South Ossetia fought free from Georgia. The Slovaks seceded from Czechoslovakia. And now Crimea is separating from Ukraine.
To be sure, not every country that secedes from another country is motivated purely by the love of liberty. But for those of us in America, the issue that has propelled the desire to separate from one country or one State has always been liberty. It was the love of liberty that created the United States and that created the free and independent states of Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, and West Virginia—all of which seceded from existing U.S. states.
Furthermore, what difference does it make if Washington, D.C., is our federal capital, or, if say, Helena, Montana, would become the federal capital of a mountain state confederation of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Northern Colorado, eastern Washington and Oregon, the Dakotas, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, and Alaska? Or if Austin was the federal capital of an independent Republic of Texas? Preserving some sort of political union (especially if it is a forced and coerced union) is not nearly as important as preserving liberty.
Again, it is not the political institution that is important. What is important is the liberty that the political institution is supposed to secure.
Many great minds in this country are already philosophizing over the possibility that secession is an idea whose time has come—again. A few years ago, Walter Williams wrote,
“Like a marriage that has gone bad, I believe there are enough irreconcilable differences between those who want to control and those want to be left alone that divorce is the only peaceable alternative. Just as in a marriage, where vows are broken, our human rights protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution have been grossly violated by a government instituted to protect them. Americans who are responsible for and support constitutional abrogation have no intention of mending their ways.
“Americans who wish to live free have two options: We can resist, fight and risk bloodshed to force America's tyrants to respect our liberties and human rights, or we can seek a peaceful resolution of our irreconcilable differences by separating. That can be done by peopling several states, say Texas and Louisiana, control their legislatures and then issue a unilateral declaration of independence just as the Founders did in 1776. You say, ‘Williams, nobody has to go that far, just get involved in the political process and vote for the right person.’ That's nonsense. Liberty shouldn't require a vote. It's a God-given or natural right.
“Some independence or secessionists movements, such as our 1776 war with England and our 1861 War Between the States, have been violent, but they need not be. In 1905, Norway seceded from Sweden, Panama seceded from Columbia (1903), and West Virginia from Virginia (1863). Nonetheless, violent secession can lead to great friendships. England is probably our greatest ally and we have fought three major wars together. There is no reason why Texiana (Texas and Louisiana) couldn't peaceably secede, be an ally, and have strong economic ties with United States.
“The bottom line question for all of us is should we part company or continue trying to forcibly impose our wills on one another?”
See William’s column here:
It's Time To Part Company, September 8, 2000
In the eyes of God, marriage is the most sacred of all unions. It is far more sacred than any political union. If our Creator has authorized the separation of a husband and wife under certain circumstances in which one party violated the sacred terms of the holy contract (and He has), who among us has the audacity to say that political unions may not be abandoned when government commits political adultery by forsaking its oath to the people?
Again, are we more interested in preserving an institution or the liberty that the institution is supposed to secure?
As an institution, the Church at large is apostate. Yet, millions of Christians continue to prop up an institution that has abandoned the purpose for which it was created. They are more interested in preserving the forms and liturgies and tapestries and buildings of the institution. And, all the while, they are being spiritually enslaved by the very institution they are helping to prop up.
And as an institution, the U.S. federal government is apostate. Yet, millions of citizens continue to make excuses for it, justify it, and condone it. They are more interested in preserving the agencies and entities and power of the institution. Yet, all the while, they are being enslaved by the very institution they are helping to prop up.
What happens when an institution becomes more important than the cause for which the institution was formed? When the institution is civil government and the cause is liberty, tyranny is what happens.
Dr. Chuck Baldwin left the Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida to move to Montana. He hosts a weekly radio show. His website is here.