Russell and Duenes

If God Judged the South by the Civil War, Then…

with 3 comments

As I continue to enjoy Douglas Wilson’s Black and Tan, I am reflecting on his chapter on R.L. Dabney. Dabney is not the kind of man who receives a wide readership in 21st century Christendom, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Dabney was a Southerner who held certain racist views, so in our estimation, no matter what else he said or did, he is poison. Just consider how much grief Wilson has taken merely for thinking well of Dabney. In today’s America, you can be full-throated in your support of the slaughter of 1.3 million of our children each year – something far, far worse than slavery, in my opinion – and not only NOT be poison, but be lauded and elected to the highest office in our land. But if you lived in the 1800s and held racist views (with perhaps the exception of Abraham Lincoln, who also held racist views), you are not worthy of taking up oxygen.

With all this as pretext, I found this thought from Dabney, which Wilson quotes, to be, as Wilson says, “prophetic,” given that it was made pre-1900.

But nearly all public men and divines declare that the State schools are the glory of America, that they are a finality, and in no event to be surrendered. And we have seen that their complete secularization is logically inevitable. Christians must prepare themselves, then, for the following results: All prayers, catechisms, and Bibles will ultimately be driven out of the schools.

Indeed. Whether one agrees with Wilson’s overall assessment in Black and Tan, I certainly think that, in his assessment of Dabney, he makes a larger thought worth pondering:

In one sense, the antebellum South was a Christian nation, but it was a Christian nation that invited, and received, a genuinely severe judgment from the God who is not mocked. This judgment from a holy God included all the atrocities of Sherman, and sinful men must always bow before the judgments of the Almighty and turn to the Scriptures to learn how to accept those judgments. A man will reap what he sows, and so do nations. Dabney was convinced that a holy God commanded that the South fall, and that she fall because of her sins. This is basic to covenantal thinking.

This being the case, we here in the United States today should hear the Word of God and tremble. If God does this sort of thing, in time and in history, what will He do with a nation such as ours? We are hostile to the poor and needy, fattening federal bureaucrats so long as they pretend to cry in the name of the poor. We have murdered over forty million infants since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. We are about to have sodomite marriage imposed on us through the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution…From shore to shore, we will continue to grow our amber waves of stain. What shall we do? How shall we as Christians live?

The way Christians “ought to live” in public life and in public advocacy is a question that has been burning in my mind over the last year or so, at least to a greater extent than ever in my life. I head off to law school this fall with the issue fresh in my mind, knowing full well that I will have to confront it head on, whether I want to or not. Do I as a Christian simply retreat full-scale into “private” devotion to Jesus, as much of American evangelicalism has done? Do I learn the law and try to practice it while keeping my head down? Do I surrender simply because all of the in-vogue legal theories take no thought for the lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of His Word?

I think not!


Written by Michael Duenes

May 15, 2011 at 11:27 am

3 Responses

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  1. By the way, my name is not “Modesty.” It’s a little joke. As a young person I thought it would be amusing to own a small publishing company and call it “Vanity Press.” Later I started a blog (which is like a publishing company) and called it “Vanity Press,” but the domain name was taken, so I made fun of myself by calling it “Modesty Press.”

    Christians are supposed to be “humble.” However, they suffer from the difficulty of being “humble,” without being “proud” of being humble. We all have our little difficultes and struggles as we bumble though life.

    Anyway, my name is Stephen if you prefer to use that name. I don’t much care about it.


    May 18, 2011 at 6:04 am

  2. I read your detailed response to my comments. Some questions came into my mind. For example,

    1) What is the purpose of your blog? I have read a bit of it. You have put a lot of time and effort into it. Is it meant as a place where you and other people who agree with you can congratulate each other on how correct you are? There is someone who calls himself “Samson” who seems to fall into that category? Or is it a place to attract and convince a person such as me, who does not share your belief system? As far as I can tell, I am the only person who fits that description who participates here, and I may soon be gone.

    2) As far as I can tell, most religious believers get enough social satisfaction from engaging in activities with their fellow believers by going to church and engaging in church activities. I don’t know where you church is located, what denomination it belongs to, or how big it is. From the video you posted, you have musical skill and talent, you have some active participants of various ages, so it’s possible it is an active and satisfying church? This makes me wonder? Are you missing some social satisfaction? Are you seeking something your church does not provide?

    3) You request that my comments be respectful. I remember reading about the Puritans of New England. They were dissenters who left England to come to the colonies of America for religious freedom. However, their idea of religious freedom was to persecute their own dissenters. Roger Williams was as devout a religious believer as any of the other Puritans, but his theology did not match theirs. He had to flee to the land we now call the state of Rhode Island and take refuge with the people we now call “Indians.” Other dissenters were called Quakers. I remember reading about how the Puritans hanged some of the Quakers. One of the Quakers was a woman. Even the Puritans blanched a bit at hanging a woman. They placed her next to two Quaker men, put a noose around her neck,hanged the men, and then took the noose off her neck, and told her to stop preaching. She refused to stop preaching, so eventually they did hang her.

    This is Christianity? Did the Puritans not think they were devout Christians? Was the practice of hanging people for not preaching “correctly” respectful? Although we still have violence involving people who call themselves Christians (in places such as Ireland and Serbia), most Christians now behave themselves fairly well in regard to other Christians who do not share their interpretation of “correct” theology. Aside from the example set by people such as Roger Williams and by Thomas Jefferson (who at best was a “marginal” Christian), how did Christianity “evolve” into a more tolerant and more “respectful” religious movement? Can the same thing happen between Christianity and Islam?

    At the same time, in the southern colonies, the practice of slave-owing began. Most of the people who owned slaves on plantations considered themselves Christians. I presume that you (and most other Christians of today) do not believe that keeping people as slaves is correct or respectful. If a person sincerely believes he is a Christian but practices something called slavery, and believes it is approved by God, is he or is not a Christian?

    4) As you know, I am a heterosexual who does not believe that there is anything wrong or “sinful” in adult humans in homosexual relationships. As you know, I do not think the Bible is the “word of God,” but even if it is, what is the basis for the evangelical condemnation of homosexuality? Jesus does not say anything about it. He does say something about marriage being between a man and a woman. But most of the condemnation seems to be based on Leviticus (in the Old Testament), without a corresponding loyalty to old (and, in my opinion, probably silly) dietary laws. And to Paul.

    Is Paul somebody whom evangelicals adulate because they regard him as the guy who got around to mentioning all the stuff Jesus forgot to mention? I don’t believe Jesus was the Son of God. I don’t believe He was born of a virgin. I don’t believe He rose from the dead. But even if He was, why did He forget to mention homosexuality? And how am I supposed to believe that Paul knew anything more about God than anybody else? Oh, Paul tells us he was in touch with God.

    Anyway, at one time Christians tortured and put to death “witches” (who were not really witches) and tortured and put to death homosexuals. Christians no longer engage in such violent and intolerant behavior. Nevertheless, if you (people who call themselves Christians) were in error in such matters, is it not possible that you are in error in this matter? Is this not why some churches are becoming more tolerant of homosexuals? Are you SURE you know God’s thinking in this matter?

    5) I will not accuse you of being disrespectful. So far, you have not found me to be in violation of the standards you wish to see practiced in your blog. So my final question is: why should I continue to read, post, and participate? You have not convinced me. (Do you think or hope that you will if you post enough answers to my comments you will convince me of something?) I have no expectation that I will change your mind about homosexuality or any other topic where I disagree with you. I think we have said all we have to say to each other. It is your blog and serves whatever purpose it serves for you (which is not clear to me). I feel no resentment or animadversion toward you, but I am a bit bored. Is there any reason I should read your blog anymore? Do you have anything to say that you have no already said?


    May 18, 2011 at 6:14 am

    • Stephen – I had written something else in response to your comments, but I’ll just close with this, since it seems that you’ll be moving on to other pastures: I truly thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts. I’ve not found them boring. I enjoy writing and honoring Christ, strengthening people’s hearts and minds in Christ, whether most of my readers agree with me or not. That’s why I do it. It is not my job to compel anyone else to believe anything. God does the changing of hearts. May He find His way into yours in His grace and mercy.


      russell and duenes

      May 18, 2011 at 11:01 pm

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