Strategy for the Church: Reflections on the Book of Daniel
By Alice C. Linsley
Special to VIRTUEONLINE
January 16, 2016
Many Christians worldwide prayed for the Anglican Primates who gathered at Lambeth last week. There was a sense that this was a make-or-break it convocation. The best possible outcome would be reconciliation flowing out of true repentance, correction, and a house cleaning on TEC's part. The sad reality is that TEC and the Church of Canada have had many opportunities to repent, but show no inclination to do so. Certainly God's mercy and pardon are measureless, but opportunities to repent are not. When bishops fail to defend the Faith schism happens, but it appears that schism in the Anglican Communion has been averted, at least for 3 more years. Only God knows what will happen.
What are Anglicans to do beyond this Lambeth gathering? The book of Daniel provides a strategy for the Church when it is faced with idolatry. Christians are to keep on keeping on in faithful witness to the truth of God's Word. That strategy is exhibited by Daniel and his like-minded fellows who were thrown into the furnace. They were confronted with demands that they conform to an idolatrous system and they resolved to be steadfast in their religion, making note of where the lines were drawn.
If we wish to avoid having our Christian witness compromised, we must know where the line is drawn and we must resolve beforehand never to cross it. For me the line was the consecration of Gene Robinson. That was the day I left TEC and I have never entered an Episcopal church since.
Daniel outlines God's strategy for the Church.
Daniel and his friends addressed hostile authorities directly and with wisdom and tact (Daniel 2:14-16).
They asked God for discernment (Daniel 2:19).
They persisted even when it seemed that God delayed in acting (Daniel 3:1-18).
They avoided isolation, taking counsel and praying together (Daniel 12:17-19)
They steadfastly resisted pressure, malicious accusations, and temptations to compromise. By following God's strategy they have been remembered as faithful witnesses who moved an unbelieving tyrant to proclaim the uniqueness and sovereignty of God. Daniel 3:26-29 gives this account:
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
Anglicans must understand why we cannot follow the disobedient rulers of our day. They lead the flock astray. They devour and destroy.
We must pray for our clergy, that their hearts and minds be guarded and directed by the Holy Spirit. Our theology must be clear and fundamentally sound on the Incarnation, the Cross, the Empty Tomb, and the Eternal Kingdom. Our prayer lives ever deepening. Our hearts fixed on the truth of God's Word.
It matters who we associate with on a daily basis. We are to surround ourselves with people of faith who takes obedience seriously. Daniel's associates shared his commitment to the true God. They entered the furnace together. The hard side of fellowship with Christ Jesus is that the two or three gathered in His Name often find themselves in the fire. Yet He is present there, as many Christian martyrs have experienced!
GAFCON bishops have exhibited God's strategy for the Church in a consistent way. They have experienced pressure to conform and have not weakened in their commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have been confronted with demands that they bow to an idolatrous system and they remained steadfast. Surely, God will honor these faithful men, and through their witness even worldly rulers will be made to see that "there is no other God that can deliver after this sort."
Alice Linsley is a Christian Apologist. She has been pioneering the field of Biblical Anthropology for over 30 years. She teaches Philosophy and Ethics and is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation. She is a contributor to Virtueonline
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