What do we want? We want the change
And how’re we gonna get there? Revolution
What do we want? We want the change
Standing on the edge of a revolution
I must confess that I quoted Nickelback there. Sadly, these lyrics are godless and reflect the mass confusion of our age. In spite of all the mockery of Nickelback I have heard, this song published in 2014, and has now received 14 million views on its most viewed video. In short, Christians are not part of a Nickelback Revolution.
I have been considering the confusion in Paris, France. These riots are part of the Yellow Vests Movement that began with an online petition in 2018. Wikipedia states the motivation of this movement: “Motivated by rising fuel prices, the high cost of living and claims that a disproportionate burden of the government’s tax reforms were falling on the working and middle classes, especially in rural and peri-urban areas, protesters have called for lower fuel taxes, the reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth, the raising o the minimum wage, and the resignation of Emmanuel Macron as President of France.” Apparently the yellow vests began with a law imposed on French motorists for high visibility.
The Yellow Vests Movement stands in a long tradition of revolution in France. You can Google search the Paris riots of 2018, 2005, 1968. The great French Revolution began in 1789. Some Yellow Vest protestors have even set up at least one mock guillotine with the party name of the current French President. Yay for these symbols of the great sins of the revolutionary spirit.
“What do we want? We want the change.” Can we blame them? Not really. Most of us want change of some form. But the question is: what is this change and how will we go about achieving it? In his 2008 campaign for Presidency, Barack Obama used the slogan “Change We Need” as his operating motto. I have heard many people question what kind of change this is. I have heard people calling for change in churches, but for some people it is hard to articulate, partly because it takes a lot of thought and patience and study to bring about positive change, and partly because much of it is motivated by sinful discontentment and skepticism of norms and above all, the Word of God. Of course, change in conformation to the Word of God is good change…
So is all revolution evil? Francis Schaeffer once wrote: “One of the greatest injustices we do to our young people is to ask them to be conservative. Christianity is not conservative, but revolutionary.” One of the first definitions of revolution that Merriam-Webster give is: “a sudden, radical, or complete change.” The second definition focuses on a change in a political organization. The third focuses on a movement to change socio-economic policies. The fourth focuses on the shifting of paradigms. I believe that Francis Schaeffer was referring primarily to the first and fourth meanings, without necessarily excluding the 2nd and 3d meanings. My only question: why pit conservative against revolution?
GK Chesterton responds to the self-defeating skepticism among modern revolutionaries: “In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.” In other words, the skepticism of modern revolution shoots itself in the foot. Modern men use double principles, that are in conflict and contradict each other.
Referring primarily to all meanings of revolution, RJ Rushdoony writes: “Godly men are not revolutionists: the Lord’s way is regeneration, not revolution.” Rushdoony focuses on personal responsibility: cleaning out your own house before cleaning house on a political or social or ecclesiastical level. Personal responsibility starts from above. Regeneration is the work of the Lord in the heart of a man or woman. He also writes in his book A Word in Season, Vol. 2: “The hypocrite is against sin in other people. The godly man is against sin anywhere but, first and foremost, against sin in himself.”
There is more to say about a distinction between revolution and reformation, but for the sake of the post will go with Schaeffer, followed by qualifications from Chesterton and Rushdoony. My thesis is that the Christian “revolution”, or maybe better termed “reformation”, is a revolt first against our sinful nature, and then we bring the gospel that radically transforms us into the world around us. A Christian “revolution” begins when the young man ditches all of his pornographic thought patterns and all of it’s encompassing whininess, marries a wife, loves her, protects her, works hard for her, raises children with her. A Christian “revolution” begins when a young Christian man reads his Bible as the lamp that lights his feet and opens up the path ahead of him. A Christian “revolution” begins when a young Christian man goes to Church, submits to authority, and bends the knee before Jesus Christ. It begins when he takes these principles from Scripture, and after rigorously applying them to himself first, also applies them to politics and the church and society. As for those in whom this “revolution” of the regenerating Spirit of God has already begun, we must pray that the Spirit would move ahead of us, as we bring a gospel-centered “revolution” to a dying world.