Evangelicalism began as a challenge to the status quo tendencies of "old-line" Protestantism - a Protestantism which, like Catholicism before it - had joined the elite establishment and had become more interested in the affairs of this world than it was any longer in the affairs of the Kingdom of Christ. Indeed, when it first appeared in history as the "Brethren Movement" of the 1830s, evangelicalism was treated as a radical and even revolutionary movement by most mainstream Protestant leaders - a movement which menaced mainline Protestantism and the comfortable accommodations it had made with Europe's (and America's) governing elites; moreover, with its talk of a "priesthood of all believers," evangelicalism seemed to be challenging the place of the "professional clergy"[Click] and seemed to threaten the infrastructure which had grown up around this comfortable conceit. It demanded a return to a "biblically-based" Christianity and challenged any departure from it as treasonous to the Word of God. Evangelicals treated talk of concession and compromise with the world and with those who refused to treat the Word of God as the standard against which all their activity had to be measured (i.e., the Roman Catholics, the liberal churches, etc.) as traitorous.

Today, of course, that's no longer the case. Indeed, the opposite is true! Those who demand that the teachings of people like Bennie Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, John Wimber, Paul and Jan Crouch, etc. be measured against the Bible are treated as narrow-minded, mean-spirited, unloving "dogmatists." It isn't so much that mainline evangelical leaders don't on occasion - and when the teachings of these men are so outrageous that "convention" demands it - criticize Hagin, Wimber, et. al., it's just that when they do so, the byzantine, "diplomatic" and elaborate manner in which it is done is so timid and convoluted that those who hear it hardly understand what is being said. And that's the way most mainline evangelical leaders want it. All discussion of a return to a Bible-based concept of the church is regarded as something hateful and abhorrent - and the "professional clergy" is more entrenched than ever before. Talk of a "priesthood of all believers" is considered seditious and incendiary. In short, evangelicalism has joined the establishment and is now one of its principle defenders - a conservative (and even Republican) establishment, no doubt, but an establishment, nonetheless - and a very worldly one at that!

By now, the sense of futility, frustration, and isolation caused by all this to sincere, "old-line" evangelicals has become fairly palpable. A spiritual weariness and despair seems to have enveloped many of them. What to do? - it all seems so hopeless. But "old-line" evangelicals should bear in mind that "Establishment Christianity" (in our case, "establishment evangelicalism") has seldom been changed by popularly-supported movements led by well-known theologians and well-paid pastors. Such people - sadly - are all too often merely the slavish sycophants and flunkies of the institutions to which they belong. Rather, when "Establishment Christianity" has been changed, it's been forced to do so by concerned and persistent minorities of "little people" - people with visions of a "better church" and a "better Christianity." Books like the Antipas Papers are the written attempts to record those visions: they are the "statements of purpose" of those who dream of a better way - who refuse to be subverted by the compromise and accommodation (and the resultant despair and despondency) which surround them. The history of Christianity has been profoundly altered by these "statements of purpose:" Luther's thesis nailed to the door of the Cathedral at Wittenburg; John Nelson Darby's persistent teachings in the face of an establishment Protestantism which derided and condemned his teachings as the blather of a relatively uneducated, naf (which he was not), etc. Such people were revolutionaries in the truest meaning of the word - they were not people easily awed by the establishment - and, moreover, they were people with whom today's evangelical establishment would probably feel very uncomfortable. Well did Jesus say of the religious establishment of His day:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,

"And say, 'If we had been {living} in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in {shedding} the blood of the prophets.'

"Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

"Fill up then the measure {of the guilt} of your fathers.

"You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?

"Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,

"That upon you may fall {the guilt of} all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. [Matt. 23:29-35 (NASB)]

And these words apply with as much force to the religious establishment of our day as they did when they were first uttered by Christ against the religious establishment of His day almost 2,000 years ago. Things haven't changed all that much! If there is any hope - and there is - that hope rests not in our establishment leaders, but in the "little people - people like you! After all, who were Peter, John, James, Andrew, etc. - if not the "little people" of their day? None of them were a part of the religious establishment - not one of them! Indeed, the establishment figures of that day were astonished by them, perceiving that they were uneducated men of no consequence: "Now when they (i.e., the establishment figures of the day) saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled ..." (Acts 4:13)

The hope of the church now rests with people like you - and more than anything else, the Antipas Papers is a call to you to take action; it's a book which places a demand on your life. Think about it! - (1) if we really are living in the "end of days; (2) if we really are going to go through the Tribulation; (3) if the United States really is "Prophetic Babylon, and evangelicals - rather than separating themselves from it - are actually to be found promoting the church's political involvement with it; (4) if the Roman Catholic Church really is the Woman of Revelation 17 and evangelicals - rather than distancing themselves from her - are becoming ever more involved with her; (5) if we really are called to be witnesses in these "last days;" etc. - why then do we not act? The fact is, we can't pretend that we don't know what's happening - we do know! - and this knowledge hangs like some kind of biblical sword of Damocles over our heads. To do nothing is to invite it to fall on us. The Bible says:

Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:

If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.

We have a few suggestions. If you want to know more, then write to us. Will give them to you. But remember - prophecy is meant to induce action BEFORE the crisis - not during!

The following articles expand to one degree or another on the theme developed in this chapter.

"The End of Days:" Becoming A "Player" Rather Than A "Member Of The Audience"
Individual Responsibility Before God
The Jesus Revolution And The Search For "Community" And The "Church-Life"
Striking A Blow At Today's Pastoral System
Transitioning From Moderation To Radicalism
The Tribulation: Acquiring A "Kingdom Perspective"
Working Within The Establishment Church Or Outside Of It: What Should We Do?


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