The Relationship Between Pietism And Leaving Egypt

Having just finished the Days of Unleavened Bread, I was struck by how many of our messages related to the idea of leaving Egypt and its implications in our lives [1].  Of particular personal interest as a student in the history of the Church of God was the connection drawn by our retired pastor between the idea of coming out of Egypt (or Babylon) and the pietism that has been associated with the Church of God for centuries.  It is no mistake that I have been critical of certain aspects of pietism as it relates to church culture, but this sermon gave a good job at pointing to the ways in which I could easily be considered as a pietist in the here and now myself.  I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss at least somewhat the connections between the Church of God and its characteristic pietism and the reasons for it, as well as the ending of that pietism as it relates to matters of civil affairs and involvement in the wider world.

Part of the reason for pietism among the Church of God throughout its history is that God’s expectations of believers to come out of the corrupt world systems of the present evil age has always been an unpopular matter.  There has never been a large enough group of genuine believers for them to form their own civic governments at any time in the entire history of the Christian era, aside from perhaps a few isolated villages that were far from others where believers governed themselves according to God’s laws and generally kept to themselves and tried to keep their head down, so to speak.  Our speaker was certainly accurate in saying that throughout much of history, it was dangerous for those who believed in God’s ways to write their own beliefs and practices down because it could and likely would be used against them, and this remains the case in certain parts of the world even to this day.  To be hostile to the corruption of this world is to be seen as an enemy by those who profit from such corruption.

Yet I do not think that the low numbers of believers throughout history is alone responsible for this attitude of extreme reluctance to involve ourselves in the affairs of the present world.  For one, I think that this attitude is combined with a refusal to engage in replacement theology.  Since believers consider themselves to be grafted into Israel and made a part of the Israel of God that is a kingdom not of this world, there is a refusal to attempt to convert the world through force or to make the sorts of compromises with evil that are often necessary to operate in the world at present.  We know that Israel was a nation that functioned with a full set of civil laws that no nation has enforced for at least a couple thousand years, and we also know that at present Jesus Christ is leading a church and not a civil state, and that this civil state is made of those who are pilgrims and sojourners on an earth that is not worthy of us.  These are all strong inducements at present not to involve ourselves in too great an extent with a world that we have all come out of, even if we are physically present and generally law abiding people within.

Yet I wonder how many of the pietists with whom I associate ponder often about the end of that pietism.  After all, our attitude of reluctance to attempt to enforce God’s laws is a temporary endeavor.  Our kingdom is not of this world, but our expectation is that Jesus Christ will return.  And when He returns, moreover, we expect to be involved in the operation of His government over the world.  If it is therefore entirely to be understood that we might be deeply reluctant to involve ourselves too deeply with contemporary politics, we should at least spend a great deal of time and effort understanding what the godly alternative to the corrupt politics of our age is.  If we expect to be rulers, we need to know by what standard we will be expected to rule.  We need to have some idea about what a godly realm will look like, and what role we will play as magistrates and counselors of one kind or another will be in such a realm.  If it is not to be expected that before the return of Jesus Christ any nation will be interested in seeking to follow His ways wholeheartedly, it should be admitted that we expect God’s ways to be enforced after His return, and that we expect to be personally involved in that administration.  It therefore behooves us to take at least some interest in the operation of the civil laws of God that have been in abeyance during these times of disobedience, since we do not expect these days and these present conditions to last forever.  We were called out of Egypt to be citizens of the Jerusalem above, and that has implications we would be wise to tease out.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/04/11/leaving-20th-century-spiritual-egypt/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/04/27/movie-review-the-way-the-truth-the-life/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/03/26/starting-off-on-the-right-foot/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/01/21/the-power-of-a-pattern/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Relationship Between Pietism And Leaving Egypt

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