Starbucks and Healthcare

Studying in Starbucks this morning a conversation began with my “neighbors.” An elderly gentlemen commented on a bookmark that I had sitting inside of G.K. Beale’s The Book of Revelation (NIGTC). The bookmark looks like a million dollar bill (I am not sure where I received it, and it is not important). What is important is that the elderly man commented that I would need this million dollars to pay for the healthcare of my family due to the recent Supreme Court ruling. This comment sparked an interesting conversation from my surrounding “neighbors.” Seven people of varying ages and backgrounds converged on my table and began to either praise or lament the current ruling; depending upon their political persuasion. However, one thing was clear by the end of the forty-five minute discussion: Everyone knows there must be reform, and no one knows to bring about reform.

This reminded me of Doug Wilson’s clarion call in Mother Kirk: Essays on Church Life. I will not quote the entire introduction to this book, but it is worth the read.

And this brings us to the point of this book, which is reformation of the Church. The first duty of all Christian churches is to proclaim clearly the gospel of Christ as Scripture has revealed it to us.

… The message is that man by nature is a deserving object of God’s wrath, utterly without hope of saving Himself. Dead in his filthiness, he is without God and without hope in the world. But before all worlds, God the Father selected by name a people to be called by His name, the number of whom cannot be increased, diminished, our counted by man. When the appointed time for their redemption came, God the Son took on human flesh and was born of a woman. According to the predetermined plan of God, the eternal Word of God died on a tree as a perfect and efficacious substitute for His people, those whom the Father had given to Him. As the message of this gospel progresses throughout the world, God the Spirit comes upon the men and women selected for salvation and in a wonderful and effectual way, regenerates them; those whom God has ordained to eternal life believe. This being the case, what shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? No true child of God will ever fall from the everlasting arms.

The message of the gospel is clear in Scripture. We must confess that our sinful neglect of the Bible has blurred it for us. As the church returns to a clear understanding of the gospel message, other important doctrinal reformation will follow.

The point of this book is the reformation of the Church, and not the reformation of nations and cultures. Nevertheless, if the Church were to be reformed, it would have a dramatic impact on the surrounding nations and cultures.

The state is … in shambles. At the very beginning of the coming cultural reformation, our civil magistrates must repent of their blasphemous delusion that the civil government is in anyway competent to be a savior for man [emphasis added] … Through them, we have sinned in rejecting the biblical doctrine of God’s predestination. Not surprisingly, unbelieving man seeks to fill the void of what he calls “chance” with his own form of total and absolute control–bureaucratic predestination by man [emphasis added]. The result is an all-encompassing totalitarian state at war with the living God.

… No thoughtful Christian can consider the state of our culture today without considerable grief. The lawless are in power, the innocent suffer, the gullible believe, the taxable pay, the sages are befuddled, and everything gets progressively worse. One political party wants to drive us toward the cliff at seventy miles per hour, and the loyal opposition wants to go fifty. In such a situation, it is perilously easy for Christians (always in the back seat) to begin to think that we have an obligation to “get involved,” change our country, turn this thing around, and so on.

And so we do have an obligation–but not in the way most frequently suggested. The humanists who currently run the show believe that politics is our savior [emphasis added]. It would be unthinkable for a major political figure to state publicly that some widespread cultural problem (drugs, say) [or we could add healthcare or immigration] had “no political solution,” and that he, Senator Snoutworst, was therefore going to “do nothing” about it. The ensuing commotion would be a sight to behold, the good senator having blasphemed against the reigning god. For unbelievers, politics provide the only possible answer. The problem is that many of the Christians who have “gotten involved” have assumed that the difference between the believers and unbelievers concerns simply the agenda for action–“what should our leaders do?” But they agree on the fact that there is a political solution. But for Christians who seek to think biblically, the problem is far more fundamental than this.

Any serious attempt at cultural reform, based upon “traditional values,” which precede a reformation and revival in the Church, should be considered by Christians as worthless reforms. As a pretty woman without discretion is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout, so is a reformation of law without reformation of the people. Our nations has progressed as far as she has in her moral corruptions because the Church has diluted her message and consequently find the surrounding culture baffling. She was appointed as the pillar and ground of truth, and she has found the task wearisome. Contending for the faith delivered to the saints has become too much of a nuisance, and too likely to bring on controversy. We can’t have that.

Our civic leaders who have not believed God, and who have plunged our nation into this flood of dissipation, were simply acting according to their unregenerate natures. They are without God and without hope in the world. The only way the unbelieving world can be constrained in its external actions, in a way contrary to that unregenerate nature, is when the Church is salty.

… The central problem in America today is the refusal of the Church to act as salt. Salt is controversial. Salt is troublesome. Salt is a nuisance. Salt is divisive. Salt is too doctrinal and theological. Salt is a pain in the neck. Salt is–well, salty.

… The Puritans are remembered (rightly) for the political impact they had. Hundreds of years after their time, we still owe may of our civil liberties to their teaching and to the sacrifices they made for the sake of their Lord and ours. But the Puritans got their name not because their first goal was to “purify” the politics of the day, but rather because they wanted to purify the Church. The Church of their day needed it, as does our. But their should be no confusion on this point; the Churches that need to be reformed are not the liberal and apostate Churches. The greatest need for reformation is with the evangelical church.

Revelation 3:17–18 (ESV) — For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Modern evangelicals in our culture have gotten money, power, and influence, and it has been like giving whiskey to a two-year-old. But the need of the hour is theological, not political. The arena is the pulpit and the table, not the legislative chamber. The message is Christ crucified and rinse for His chosen sinners and now acknowledged Lord of all. This risen and conquering Christ is the Head of the Church. Before we are equipped to proclaim His lordship to the inhabitants of all the earth, we must live as though we believed it in the Church (Doug Wilson, Mother Kirk: Essays on Church Life, excerpts from pages 17-22).


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