Merie relished the word “militant.” Perhaps she was militant, but I think in all the wrong ways. She wasn’t afraid to refuse mentoring from older and wiser Christians her entire life, for instance. She fearlessly split churches (the only legitimate reason for Biblical withdrawal). She was even withdrawn from for her divisiveness in 1958 and never “made herself right” (Stanton’s lingo).
She attacked the elders and preachers of her day relentlessly in her open letters, militantly and publicly. This is also something the modern SCOC withdraws for. She attacked and separated herself from friends and family, dividing marriages (including her own) and separating fathers and mothers from each other and from their kids. All this was in pursuit of her little experiment in “militancy.”
As a result of that “militant” legacy, Stanton fancies themselves as “militant Christians.” They use that phrase to make themselves feel like the “fearless warriors” out fighting God’s battles in the popular culture. They are, after all, the “militant ones,” while the rest of the Christian world is just “playing church” on Sunday morning. Or so they would have you believe.
What a bunch of complete and utter nonsense. Like so many other false narratives Stanton loves to spin, their “militant” persona is nothing more than fan fiction.
In reality, neither their leaders nor their members are willing to drop anything to follow Jesus, much less sacrifice everything. They’re not even willing to put themselves in harm’s way—professionally, socially, or physically—to be a light in this dark world.
Let your light so shine before men? Hardly. When you’re recruiting people into an abusive and authoritarian man-made sect, it’s much easier to keep that hidden under a bushel. They have no advertising, no public signage, and only invite new members through a carefully presented “nonmember class,” not the public assembly. That is grooming, not evangelism.
In fact, they don’t take public and vocal stances on anything to counter the culture, like abortion, or adoption, or home schooling, or caring for the fatherless in foster care. They just hide in the shadows. What cowardice.
My dad used to sit in his study reading the Bible and various books of history. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was one. Another was Fox’s Book of Martyrs. That is a particularly eye-opening book, telling the stories of believers in the last 2,000 years who suffered greatly for the cause of Christ.
Burned at the stake, tortured for their faith, and ostracized or killed for speaking out against their oppressors; those people had a faith that wouldn’t die. They truly understood the meaning of the phrase “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (Matthew 10:28). They lived out their Christian faith fearlessly, and paid the ultimate price for it.
Did you know there are millions of believers around the world right now, at this very moment, suffering imprisonment, torture, rape, and bloody execution for the cause of Christ? Not to convert someone to some particular sect, mind you, but simply to share the love of Jesus with them so their lives can be changed.
Some are suffering at the hands of Islamist captors. Others are persecuted and oppressed by the pagan population around them, like in some radical Hindu provinces of India. And did you know that Christians in modern communist countries like China, Vietnam, and Cuba suffer daily persecution and imprisonment from the government, just as in the first century? Do you think Christians during the rise of communism in the 20th century, and the subsequent Cold War, didn’t suffer for the cause of Christ?
One of the greatest testimonies of the truth of Jesus’ resurrection is that his closest followers—the Twelve—gave their lives affirming their testimony. If the resurrection was a lie, would they all have gone to their graves with such fearlessness? Of course not. If based on a lie, Christianity would have just been a blip on the radar screen of history. But it’s not.
Where are the radical followers of Jesus in Stanton? What impact have they made, locally, regionally, or globally? Does anyone even in their own communities know they exist besides the few who attend, and their families and extended families? Why don’t they stake out public positions and advocate for the fatherless or the unborn in today’s culture? Do they even care about the “orphans and widows” in this world? Why do they hide behind a shroud of secrecy and seek to deflect public attention, rather than invite it, as the first century church did?
The more you pull this thread, the more their militancy propaganda unravels. Where are all the Stanton members running into danger to share the Good News with people living under oppressive regimes? Do those people not need God as much as they do? Do they care enough to even pray for today’s persecuted believers they’ve never met? The first century church did. The wider Christian church does. Stanton doesn’t. Because, of course, there are no other Christians according to them. What arrogance.
Where are all the Stanton missionaries working to learn a foreign language so they can share Jesus with those populations? The rest of the Christian world does this. Are Stanton evangelists even talking about the need to share the joy of knowing Jesus with the world, much less actually doing anything about it? Of course not. They should be overflowing with the joy of the Lord, running into persecution in order to share it. Non-SCOC Christians are. Where is Stanton?
I have a book on my shelf called Jesus Freaks. It is published by a Christian ministry called Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that tells the modern stories of today’s Christians living and evangelizing in the underground church in many parts of the world. The book is a modern version of Fox’s Book of Martyrs.
What’s eye-opening about Jesus Freaks is the vibrant faith of modern Christians who really are putting it all on the line to share the love and hope found in God with a dark and cruel world. Does Stanton do any of this? I hear nothing but the deafening sound of silence.
One of the coolest things about today’s persecuted church is its positive message. It’s not about playing the victim card, or the woe-is-me drama. It’s about the mission of sharing hope and love at all cost. There are very few people even talking about the persecuted church, outside of Voice of the Martyrs organization. But when the stories of the persecuted church do get told, they are uplifting and encouraging, because they are not focused on self, but on others.
In 50 years time, the first century church had turned the world upside down with a revolutionary message in a largely pagan world. In the 50 years of Stanton’s existence, have they turned a single neighborhood upside down, much less the world? Stanton’s fruit (whether you measure it by impact or by radical discipleship) is conspicuously absent. Unbelievably, they don’t even have elders appointed yet, something the first century church did very early in its history.
The idea that evangelical Christians in America and abroad are just sipping lattes and only pretending to follow Jesus is just plain wrong. You’ve been sold another lie. It’s much easier to put others down than to radically follow Jesus yourself.
Rather than slam the Christian community doing the heavy lifting of sharing the gospel with a lost world, maybe try looking a little more inward. Perhaps the problem is that Stanton is better at producing spiritual cowards than leaders.