Suicide By Theocracy

If American evangelicalism dies, suicide will be the cause of death listed on the official Coroner’s report. American evangelicalism will likely not die due to external persecution. Historically, persecution tends to strengthen the church. If it dies, it will die because it has tied a rope around its own neck, placed a loaded gun against its own head, and laced its own food with arsenic.

There are a number of ways American evangelicalism is attempting to kill itself: by lusting after secular political power at any cost, by allowing gross heresy to be taught and promoted in its churches, seminaries, and publishing houses, by following the method of modernist liberals in replacing Scripture with culture as its standard of faith and life, and by embracing a rabid form of radical anti-intellectualism. For now, I’d like to focus on the first of these – the lust for political power at all costs and how it echoes the fatal mistake of the medieval papacy. I hope to address and explain some of the others in future blog posts.

Anyone who has studied the history of the Western church cannot help but be struck by the radical difference between the church we read about in Paul’s epistle to the Romans and the Roman Catholic Church of the late Middle Ages. The first century church in Rome consisted of a collection of humble house churches scattered around various parts of the city of Rome. That first century church described in Paul’s epistle bears no resemblance to the prideful power, pomp, and perversity of the Renaissance era papacy. Rome didn’t even have a monarchical bishop until the last decades of the second century, but by the late Middle Ages the bishop of Rome becomes one of the most powerful men in the Western world and claims to be the one without whom there is no true church. How did we get from point A to point B? Read more»

Keith Mathison, “The Shared Priority of American Evangelicalism and the Medieval Papacy” (May 10, 2021)


    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

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One comment

  1. Aw, now, Dr. Clark, you’re meddling.

    Thank you for sharing the very true and very convicting words. I am an evangelical Christian who has fallen into the trap of contending for earthly kingdoms far too often. May the Spirit convict and lead me to repentance and a renewed love for Jesus’ kingdom.

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