The book by a noted minister of the gospel in Chattanooga with a global telecom ministry reveals how evil has arisen on many fronts across the world, and that the evil forces that enslave men and darken their understanding are comprehensive systems.
But the paperback by the Rev. Ron Phillips declines to lay out the tools by which the Christian reader might join in the effort to resist and rebuild upon the ruins of modern commercial government, might throw into retreat the illiberal yeast that permeates culture when Christianity is privatized, pessimistic and short-term oriented.
By David Tulis / 96.9 NoogaRadio
The Unraveling of America; Who is Pulling the Strings? (Hixson, Tenn: Abba’s House Publications, 2016, 223pp) rejects God’s law as the template for human action and national reform, and rejects the optimistic and progress-oriented conception of Christendom that posits a shift of status in the human race — from that under judgment to that uplifted by grace. Typical of the work of evangelical Christian authors, it sees the second coming of Christ as imminent, making moot the need to understand a world in woe and to rebuild and restore a godly order.
Dr. Phillips of Abba’s House church in Chattanooga persists in a modern pessimism that has curtailed the influence of Christianity that has delivered Americans into gay theory, soul-killing schools and abortion mills — topics into which he delves in Unraveling.
Deep analysis of cultural collapse
Before he gets “to release the truth which alone can set humanity and our culture free,” Dr. Phillips goes into detail to describe the status quo. Much to its favor, Unraveling of America goes into unusual places in explaining how the enemies of Christianity and freedom operate.
One, notably, is that hidden power of groups such as the Bilderbergers, the Freemasons and the Skull and Bones society at Yale University.
Citing a “60 Minutes” report from 2004, the book points out that a tiny group, Skull and Bones, initiates 15 members a year — “there are about 800 living members at any one time.” When George W. Bush and John Kerry ran for president, the media failed to point out that they are members of the same tiny club and that the electorate’s options were, indeed, narrow (Page 35).
A few great ones control governments and structures behind them, Dr. Phillips indicates. He is not so naive as the late Drs. Jerry Falwell or D. James Kennedy as to think that elections control the course of national government. A state behind the state controls the government, and the people. The interest of secret societies with occultic practices mark the architecture and design of the federal city and reveal themselves on U.S. currency, he says.
But Dr. Phillips observes that the “pagan statue of Freedom” and Minerva as high-level national icons, but carelessly laments the lack of statutes and images of Jesus; these are forbidden in the second commandment against the use of images in worship (Page 33).
Good to be suspicious
Dr. Phillips lays a biblical groundwork for being suspicious and not being simple-minded. For example, “how long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge” Proverbs 1:22.
He discusses the biblical concept of the spirit of truth versus the spirit of error (Page 41). Teaching about false prophets, he helps us suspect the narrative peddled by the “Today Show,” CNN and the Wall Street Journal. Everywhere around us is “the spirit of antichrist,” 1st John 4: 2, 3.
A discussion about false prophets brings up the names of Jim Jones, whose 900 followers at the People’s Temple in Guyana killed themselves in 1978 with poisoned Kool-Aid. Dr. Phillips mentions David Koresh, who was liquidated by an inferno ignited by federal law enforcement in 1993 (Page 48) False prophets, deadly results.
“Can we sit silent and allowed the corruption that is eating away at the foundation of our nation to continue?” Rev. Phillips asks. “Should we sit on the sidelines and watch while godless men with their godless lies take us down the road to destruction? Do we allow the fear of being called narrow-minded or racist to move us away from the Biblical foundation this country was founded on? We cannot. We must not!” (Page 51).
Dr. Phillips takes on a popular narrative, that of “separation of church and state,” a discussion that opens a door to argue for the influence of God’s word upon national government.
That phrase is not constitutional, but originally came from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. Dr. Phillips briefly traces the trend of egalitarianism from the federal high court started in 1963 with the ban on individual school prayer and Bible reading. The legal enforcement of that concept has drained vestiges of Christianity from most public venues and events in the U.S.
“While the church is sleeping, America is drifting away from its roots. It is not only liberal courts, but other organizations such as the ACLU that are doing their best behind the scenes,” Dr. Phillips says, “pulling their strings of influence to push our nation over the cliff and into the abyss of a godless America!” He rightly points out that churches that take on a 501(c)3 tax-exempt status accept a gag order on pastors’ prophetic and condemning voices in Christendom (Pages 65, 67).
Americans helpless before banking, abortion combines
Dr. Phillips rightly devotes much space to the “American holocaust” (pp. 69-84). He traces the money involved in that trade. “Here’s the ugly truth about abortion that no one wants to talk about. It’s big business!” (Page 76) Planned Parenthood gets $3.6 billion in taxes while earning F$700 million from abortions
The American republic is unraveling because of state welfarism getting people disincentives for work, investment, and thrift. The author cites the work of Solomon in describing the five links in the chain of poverty including exhortations for hard work to bring new opportunities and the problems of the slack hand.
Dr. Phillips is not so naive as to think that the dollar is honest and solid. He provides a conventional discussion about central banking, inflation and the use of debt and deficit spending by the national government. We have federal militarism and socialism because the medium of exchange, the dollar, is an instrument of theft. But the material in this section is not solid enough to suggest that the system is illegal and unconstitutional, nor that violation of God’s weights and measures law is a great judgment deserved by a covetous and sinful people whom, if only they repent, might once again be blessed with honest money that holds its value over time.
Dr. Phillips makes an excellent presentation about those who “[exchange] the natural use for what is against nature” (Romans 1:26), about how queer theory is a poison and an acid upon the life of the country and its people. He details gay strategies and explores how entertainment is uses to push the gay agenda. “Our role in society is to speak the truth in love, not to condemn and persecute. Homosexuality is a sin, and like any other soon, it needs to be laid at the cross and forsaken.”
Dr. Phillips’ book shows that he is an astute observer of the day’s headlines. He is right to point out that when city governments cater to a single point of sharia law, every other ordinance and rule will be sucked under that law system eventually. He’s right to condemn in detail political correctness, which many call cultural Marxism.
Needed: Tools to fight, tools to rebuild
Here now we come to the great fault in this work. And before telling you what it is I will ask you 3 questions.
➤ If a people and a nation are collapsing internally amid growing tyranny, debt and moral laxness, what is the basis for reform?
➤ No. 2 — is there anything in the word of God that lets Christian people work toward a comprehensive system of self-government, public life and civil government?
➤ No. 3 — Socialism, Marxism, Mohammedanism offer a comprehensive view of life and the world. Does the Bible give to God’s people a systematic and comprehensive view of the world?
In other words, does Christianity have a social theory? Or does the word of God apply only to individual lives, individual and personal circumstances, private and personal piety?
The fault of Dr. Phillips’ gospel defense is that Christianity lacks a social theory and that his Jesus lacks the investiture of prophet, priest and king. Dr. Phillips lugs a bucket of woe and offers from the gospel a thimble of hope.
Dr. Phillips is the senior pastor of Abba’s House in Chattanooga, formerly Central Baptist Church. He was once a traditional Baptist but was convinced by the thinking of God’s people at the Church of God. And now he puts great emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is God’s great offensive power against Satan and his works, already defeated by the sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet the book sees no great work of conquest by the Holy Spirit among the nations.
It does not explain how the 10 commandments have a use in declaring what is sin and also driving us to Christ be a light upon our path. The sins of which Dr. Phillips complains are sins in terms of the commandments.
The remedy is also found there; by the power of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father, schooling is reformed to be godly and faithful. State and federal law turn from protecting the wicked to oppressing them. Money is reformed from debasement and inflation to redeemability and the storing of buying power of the people. Under God’s law, the unborn gain protection. Giant empires too big to allow justice and local control break apart as individuals in cities and suburbs assert self-government under God’s law.
Despite useful insights into the collapse of humanism, Dr. Phillips doesn’t use them to good effect. He doesn’t identify many of the national ills in terms of God’s law, and doesn’t see in God’s commandments His promises and requirements. He doesn’t see the gospel in terms of God’s sovereign government and kingship, nor the law as a tool of evangelism.
It’s as if Dr. Phillips were crying, “Fire! Fire!” but not telling where to find the hose, the nozzle and the faucet handle with which to put it out.
The means by which God intends to fight these evils through the power of the Holy Spirit and the church, is a godly reformation and rebuilding. While the impulse for reformation is the power of the Holy Spirit, the means by which it takes place is for people to embrace the tenets of God’s law and shape a program in terms of it. Also essential for such an undertaking: An optimistic view of the effects of faithful preaching in the church long term. Optimism about growth and progress in the work of Christ, rather than pessimism inspired by the claim that Satan rules the world.
No one has ever been saved from his sins by obeying God’s laws, because no one can obey them to God’s satisfaction. Only Christ does that. He is the fulfillment and the end (the goal) of the law. The commandments are the template upon which human action must take place.
All those who profess that Jesus is their Lord must act in terms of God’s commandments, many of which are very specific and practical and earthy. Quotes from Peter
Because Dr. Phillips is a standard American Evangelical premillennial Christian, he has a very modern view about the so-called Jews and their erstwhile Zionist state in the Middle East, the nation of Israel.
This view holds that the promises of God to His old covenant people means that the Israelites still exist and are the object of God’s promises and love. It implies there are two modes of salvation. For one group of people, Christians, there is God’s grace and forgiveness of sins. For the other group, those of the so-called Jews or Israelis, there is a bloodline way of salvation.
Dr. Phillip’s focus on the state of Israel is not a consequence of the body of his book that I have described, with much favor. The concluding part of the book has some very high and historical theological points, but they do not follow the bulk of Dr. Phillips’ discourse about the decline of the rise of the absolutist total state and its slave population.
The argument, in other words, does not flow from the proofs.
Dr. Phillips’ proof lineup could be used to argue that Christians should become relevant to all of life all of society and function in the marketplace of ideas. But he does not make that argument because he dare not touch the law of God as the basis for this action. Rather, Dr. Phillips argues that the evils in the foregoing chapters suggest Christ imminent return and that we should pray.
The book does not develop in any detail what this restoration of Israel as God’s second people looks like. He does not argue explicitly for the second mode of salvation implied in that argument. Neither does Dr. Phillips explain how the arrival of the state of Israel connects with the foregoing signs of tyranny, gay rights, indebtedness and Mohammedanism. If these evils are increasing, what does the restoration of the state of Israel have to do with God’s work across the ocean?
End times theory controls
Dr. Phillips’ concern about the state of the nation and the weakness of Christianity seems contradicted by his eschatology, which holds that Christ’s return is imminent and that there is no use in caring about the world and the people in it because time is so short. In this view typical of American fundamentalism, comprehensive reform is pointless and not to be desired except among the worldly.
Whether abortion or welfarism, Dr. Phillips describe them as causes for action. And yet his time frame is very short, saying that Christ’s return could be tomorrow.
The sense of non sequitur increases in his last chapter of 17 pages. He describes an ancient hatred between the children of men and the children of God., one that began in the Garden of Eden and is traced through the struggles of the children of Israel. He quotes Ezekiel 35 as making a prophecy for today.
“Who are these two ‘end time’ nations? I have come to the conclusion these two nations are Israel and the United States of America. The ancient hatred has two desires, to possess Israel and to destroy the United States” (Page 192).
Dr. Phillips follows a theory novel in Christendom whose origins begin with J.N Darby in the late 1780s. This theory contradicts centuries of optimistic postmillennialism of Christianity and a theory of progress and turns Christianity pessimistic, retreatist, inward-looking and pietistic.
Well, the system of Muhammad pretends to offer an exhaustive system of life, at least externally; Christendom is not granted that same scope, nor is its founder, the Lord Jesus Christ, considered as a king reigning today and imposing His will and law upon all the nations and the peoples.
In Dr. Phillips’ framework, Jesus is love and the laws of the Old Testament Israelites are not the basis for rebuilding and reconstruction.
Widespread reformation, transformation
Dr. Phillips calls for a Christian taking back of society, but omits the material needed, the framework needed by which individuals, families, businesses, neighborhoods, towns, cities, regions, industries, trades and nation-states might be rebuilt. If the old and new testaments are the law of God and the heart of equity as they claim to be, they’d be more than the mere “guides for living” that radio and TV preachers make them out to be; they’d be seen as transformative not just of individual sinners, but universities, capitalism, nation-states, penal systems, court systems, retirement schemes, insurance and the like.
With his list of grievances, Dr. Phillips implies that Christians should be doing something to undo and remake the broken sectors in the country. But there is no defense of the systematic nature of God’s will and character as summarized the Ten Commandments. The reader of his book leaves thinking that he must pray for Israel and act defensively against gay rights activists and Muslims. That’s doesn’t sound like a winner’s plan.
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I suggest, however, that the reader of Unraveling of America would should do more intelligence gathering. He should read the works of American neopuritan authors such as R.J. Rushdoony, Dr. Gary North, David Chilton, Gary DeMar, Greg Bahnsen and others who have helped systematically to explore the claims of God’s law and the general equity therein. Dr. North’s book Millenialism and Social Theory (1990) is a tremendous study of the biblical concept of progress and the sanctification of mankind.
Joel McDurmon is doing excellent work on localism and decentralization and how Christians can step into larger roles of mercy and social direction. His most recent book, The Problem of Slavery in Christian America, argues for Christian rebuilding on the basis of repentance for complicity in American chattel slavery, and wrecks the whole left-right framework of race relations. The Christian reconstructionist wing of the reformed camp continues to be the most useful and comprehensive body of Christian literature that gives the solutions Dr. Phillips overlooks. That prolific group has been on the scene for 50 years.
We can’t beat something with nothing, as Dr. North often says. If God’s people are going to beat and overcome the enemy — sin — and their enemies among statists, gays and Muslim clerics at the universities and in the marketplace of ideas, they need to have the gospel making claims in every area of life. And they need to believe that Christian service and godly action will affect long-term reformation and blessing.
They won’t be getting it from Dr. Phillips anytime soon, unless he does two things. Change his mind about God’s law. And believe in the eventual redemption of the entire world and all its peoples before the last day, propelled and leavened by faithful preaching of the Gospel every Lord’s Day and Christian mercy in every area of local economy and free markets.
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You point out well an issue with American Christianity. We follow the big names and like to impose on others, but living in obedience to the Lord is very secondary.
I had a good laugh to see that the book is dedicated to Dr. John Hagee, a man who does not qualify as an elder as described in Titus 1:6. This is simply a Christian Zionist club, another non sequitur. You can sell a lot of books and get a fawning audience by shouting “the end is near”, buy my book, and note my flowing robes (Mat 23:5-7).
We admire the Apostle Paul, but have you noted his techniques. Consider Acts 20:20 and “house to house”. Rather than building large institutions to proclaim your fame, consider going to the least of these (Matthew 25:40), but remember you won’t sell as many books.