A Plain Life: Why the Animosity ? … A Plea to Atheists, Evangelicals, and Everyone in-between.

Originally Posted on the 17th of March, 2013

Why do you deride us, for being peaceful folk
who live a simple life, differently from you ?

If it is truly because you do not understand us,
then I will take the time to explain …
Will you take the time to learn ?

The question is often derisively asked:
“WHAT makes you any different than us?”

And the answer frequently given:
“Do you have a television in your home?”

“Do you believe that television teaches
a good moral example for your children?”

“No ? … Then, will you go home today,
and take your television to the nearest town dump?”

“THAT … is the difference between us and you.

We will not be ‘entertained’ by the type of
mental and moral sewage that is continually displayed
by your television set. We will not have it in our home.

That is the way we choose to live our life.”

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord,
and do not the things which I say?”

Those few in the world, who truly
determine to be godly in life and thought,
are content to let the world live as it will.

We certainly find no agitation in letting people
sit for hours in front of the television;
spend their money in coveting status symbols
and the pursuit of greed; or
entertaining each other with the frivolities
of modern life.

All we want is the courtesy
to live in peace and quiet.

The problem for us, however, is that
neither the atheist, nor the evangelical,
are content to let us be.

“Those who have no strength and power
to inflict other injuries, have these weapons
of malice always in readiness.

When other kinds of persecutions
and violence are restrained,

yet men take a liberty of censuring
and speaking all manner of evil falsely,
against the children of God;

and ever this hath been verified in the
experience of the saints.

Their lives are a real reproach
to the wicked …”

[ Thomas Manton]

While world-loving people wallow joyfully
in moral depravity – and call it “freedom”,

they declare Us to be “brainwashed”.

While self-venerating evangelicals imitate
the world as closely as they can – and call it
“relevance”,

they declare Us to be “narrow-minded”
or “fanatics”.

And should We but try to explain our position
to Either of Them;
they are insulted, and find it intolerable.

Our mere existence represents everything
that both Atheist and Evangelical despise:

the notion of an holy God,
of self restraint, and
of separation from the world.

And if it is indeed true that the Conscience
is The Law of God Written on the Human Heart,
then our refusal to Imitate the world
can only be a thorn in their collective conscience.

And we are despised because of it.

Throughout the 16th century, the term “Anabaptist”
was bestowed, essentially, upon anyone
who professed Christianity … while being neither
Roman Catholic nor Reformed Protestant.

To gain adherents – and keep them – both
of these Political Institutions used wilful lying,
physical force, and military intimidation
in order to maintain the dominion of their High Church
“Christianity” in their respective lands.

To the rulers and adherents of the both the Romanist
and Reformed Established Church Regimes,
a “Christian” was determined – NOT by personal
repentance from sin, faith upon the
Lord Jesus Christ, and refusal to imitate the world;

but – by whether one’s dwelling place
was situated in a certain geographic locale
under the control of its government-supported
Church.

These political/religious regions were known
as “parishes”, and residents therein

duly attended church services;

got married in church;

and had their infants ceremonially made members
of the local church – (or risked having to explain
to the government authorities why not.)

Defining a Christian

In the fourth century, the Donatists, for example,
maintained that the Church is composed of a very few
individuals out of any given society.

These were individuals who humbled themselves
before Christ Jesus, and sought to no longer practice
the ways and methods of the world.

Seeing the Roman Church as Babylonian;
and the Reformed Church as a cleaned-up imitation of it,
biblical Christians would have no part of either one.

Any person who did not want to attend church,
the Donatists maintained, were … Not … to be
compelled so to do.

NO man, they maintained, had ANY right
to FORCE another – through threats or intimidation –
to attend a church service,
or make public claims to be a Christian.

Government, certainly, had no directive
– scripturally or morally –
to compel anyone, in matters of religion.

Those ‘church’ leaders who called upon
government officers to force people to attend church,
may well be leaders of Their Own religious fiefdoms;

but they are no leaders of any New Testament
Church of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament Church of Jesus Christ,
the Donatists maintained, consists of – And Only Of –
those who are willingly trusting in Christ as their Sovereign,
AS WELL AS living a life of visible conduct
and conversation that Demonstrated this to be true.

When the Church Is the State:
when Men rule by their own means and dictates,
it is NOT a true, or biblical, Church.

This type of thinking infuriated the clergy of Rome
in the 4th century;

It infuriated the clergy of Reformers
in the 16th century.

“Church” Ruled by Human Principles

When the 4th century Emperor Constantine
saw that he was losing control of a diminishing empire,
he determined to save his power structure,
and unite the people under it, by uniting
the pagan religion of the heathen world,
with the rapidly spreading gospel of Jesus Christ.

The qualities afforded to the pagan gods
would now be transferred upon “saints”

and everyone would be united within
this new Roman Universal “church”.

Peasants would be content to do what their religious
instructors told them;
and Rulers would effectively rule over the entire
religious and political empire.

Those who insisted that the New Testament was the
ONLY rule in matters theological,
effectively challenged the tyranny
of the ruling power structure.

So it was, in the 16th century,
with those who did not submit themselves
to the sacral rule of Protestant Reformers.

Men and women who determined to worship,
and to live, according to the dictates and example
of Christ and the apostles alone,
were immediately anathemised as “heretics”.

When any erratic personality or outright lunatic
would happen to make an appearance
whilst making some claim of being “Christian”,
he (or they) were immediately
declared to have links to the so-called “heretics”

– the Anabaptists.

The most frequently cited historical examples used in
this malignant fraud, are the gangs of the Circumcellions
– bands of thugs who were (and still are) equated
with the 4th century Donatists …

the despotic Munsterites, who were (and still are)
equated with the 16th century Anabaptists …

… And, of course, it has been routine – for the past 30 years,
to have Hollywood “police programmes” feature some
maniacal, sadistic killer as a Bible-believing “fanatic”.

Such is the malice of men (then, as well as now)
that clearly evident facts such as the CLEARLY
Contradictory Conduct of evil men …

are never allowed to interfere with the lying slanders
of those who hate “old fashioned”, moral-living folk.

That the said isolated lunatics – very plainly –
conducted themselves in direct opposition
to the group to which they were accused
(by religious and secular authorities)
of being a part, never seemed to trouble the public,
who delighted to join in the contempt quiet
and peaceful people.

The religion of Roman Catholicism
and Reformed Protestantism was a religion
of enforced control.

No one could hold Christian church services
unless they were “licensed” so to do.

No one could preach the gospel unless he was
“licensed” so to do.

And NO One was ordained to preach
unless the officiating church was certain
that they would uphold the Party Policy.

Those who made profession of Christ, but were
NOT a part of either of these religious regimes,
were declared to be … “heretics”.

And every effort was made by the clergy of both,
to ensure that such dissenting people were despised
by society, and government, at large.

Because they were not married
in either Roman or Reformed “churches”,
Anabaptists were declared to be promiscuous fornicators.

Because they were forced to meet secretly
for church services in areas of the forests,
they were accused of holding clandestine orgies
in which everything from witchcraft
to copulation was rampant.

And anyone who taken captive at one of these
forbidden church services – or, conventicles –

was almost certainly assured of death.

Just what was the opinion of Christ with regard to
coercion or the use of force, upon those
who proclaimed the true gospel of Jesus Christ
… “unofficially”?

And John answered him, saying,
Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name,
and he followeth not us:
and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

But Jesus said, Forbid him not:
for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name,
that can lightly speak evil of me.
For he that is not against us is on our part. [ Mark 9:38-40 ]

Every lewd and degraded imagination of malicious men
was applied to the Anabaptists and others who met
to worship the Lord Jesus Christ in strict accordance
with the New Testament example.

The same hatred exists today amongst the masses of
religious worldlings who frolic each Sunday morning:
to them, we are ‘narrow-minded’ ‘fanatics’
who do not know the meaning of “love”.

In the 16th century, Anabaptist men, women,
and young people – whose lives and conduct exemplified
New Testament Christian uprightness and morality;

who lived as examples of quiet and peaceful people,
showing kindness and charity towards those
who were genuinely in need;

who sought to obey the words of Christ
over the invented traditions of men …

were declared to be “Anarchists”,
precisely BECAUSE they followed the teaching of Christ
and the example of the apostles.

Nothing has changed. We are still deemed a ‘threat’
to society by Atheist and Religionist alike.

As Article 36 of the Belgic Confession
(still proudly in use by Reformed churches today)
makes perfectly clear:

“And the government’s task is not limited to caring for
and watching over the public domain
but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry,
with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry
and false worship of the Antichrist …
that we may live a peaceful and quiet life
in all piety and decency.

And on this matter we denounce the Anabaptists,
other anarchists, and in general all those who want
to reject the authorities and civil officers
and to subvert justice by introducing
common ownership of goods and corrupting
the moral order that God has established
among human beings.”

Men and women who wished to live in accordance
with the New Testament were – to the Reformed Church –
“corrupting the moral order”.

Far better (apparently) – like John Calvin, – to plan,
sanction, and orchestrate the torturous murder
of Michael Servetus in Geneva, and then
defend the sadistic deed afterwards;

than to abandon the vain traditions of men
and instead, establish a church after the New Testament
example … precisely as the “heretics” did.

[ Michael Servetus was a rationalist thinker
who effectively discovered the Circulatory System;
it was Servetus who discovered the fact that blood
becomes bright red in the lungs, not the heart.

Why was he burned alive?

Servetus was sadistically murdered for the sole reason
that he disagreed with the Reformed Church;
wrote a book holding errant views of theology;
and did Not hold to pagan paedobaptism.

The private opinions of a medical intellect being,
apparently, a major threat to the moral order of society,
Servetus was condemned to slow (it took 3 hours)
burning at the stake on the 27th of October, 1553.

With the murder being applauded by Melancthon,
Bucer, Farel and others, the “Reformers”
were now doing PRECISELY the same thing
as the Roman Catholic Church …

The Very Institution that they were presuming to “Reform”. ]

It was the Reformer Zwingli’s notion of Christianity
to tie a man’s hands to his ankles and throw him over
the side of a boat …

… and sew women inside burlap sacks
and hurl them into the depths of the river.

This was “Reformed Christianity” at work.

Nowhere did the Bible sanction the church
of Jesus Christ to be maintained by the sword,
stake; torture, or imprisonment.

And the Reformers charged the pacifist-minded Anabaptists
… with “corrupting the moral order”.

Christ insisted that “My kingdom is NOT of this world”.
The Atheist, The Romanist, the Reformer
and the Modern Religionist insist otherwise.

Luke 14:16 speaks of compelling people
to “come in” through admonition and reasoning
– with words. Not by force.

Bucer maintained that because Christ drove OUT
those who used the house of God as a source of profiteering
and greed; the church rulers are therefore sanctioned
to drive people IN through the use of physical force
and threat of prison, torture, and death.

Multitudes of their modern-day successors defend
such philosophies for the simple reason that Calvin,
or Luther, or Augustine taught it.

It was the observation of John Owen (1616-1683),
who remarked:

“On this account we may see poor creatures
pleasing themselves every day;
as if they vaunted in their excellency,

when they are foaming out
their own shame.” [ Owen, 6, 259 ]

How wonderful it would be if you could
attend to the state of your own hearts,

and let those of us who seek to live quietly
and peaceably in the land,
actually live in peace …

without your hatred, derision and malice.

P Livingstone