David French’s piece on the “Seven Mountain Movement” is in intriguing look into something that I’ve heard discussed over the years but never really spelled out. He describes the basics of the movement as follows:
In its distilled essence, the Seven Mountain concept describes seven key cultural/religious institutions that should be influenced and transformed by Christian believers to create “Godly change” in America. The key to transforming the nation rests with reaching the family, the church, education, media, arts, the economy, and the government with the truth of the Gospel.
Although stuff like this has induced panic into the left over the years, even with Trump the left has overestimated the ability of those who espouse this movement to make it a reality. Looked at from a purely objective standpoint, the whole Evangelical movement to “take America back for God” has floundered along for too long, having its biggest triumph too late in the game for the results to stick.
French himself put his finger on the core problem, but I don’t think he realises its import:
Astute readers will by now have noticed two things…Second, you’ll note how much it emphasizes the importance of placing people in positions of power and control.
The left understands completely the importance of power and control, and has from the start. They’ve played the long game to get where they’re at, even though many, in typically American fashion, have been impatient about results and frequently have overplayed their hand because of their impatience. The left’s biggest problem is that, as I noted at the end of my novel, they don’t have a strong leader to really get their agenda over the top, contenting themselves with collectivistic gumming of their opponents.
Evangelicals have up until now lived in a country where you didn’t have to have power to have a good life. The legal and political system allowed people to live well without having to have some kind of “inside deal” to get along. They didn’t understand, unlike the left, that you have to “play for keeps” to really get where you want to go, and the game is not won by winning elections or getting many people on your side, but the right people, in which case the other two come eventually.
That’s all changed, and now Evangelicals have woken up to the fact that their opponents have been engaged in asymmetric warfare with a superior strategy. So now they now try to target the right people, which is a game changer for Evangelicals, usually engaged in an eternal popularity contest. In the course of this they have set as their objective control of society, because the left has taught them that, to do what you want, you need to have power.
I honestly think that it’s too late in the game for Evangelicals to attempt this. I also think that Evangelicalism isn’t designed for societal domination in the way that, say, the Main Line churches were. The latter, descendants for the most part of Old World (and some New World) state churches, lived in a world where the church and state set the agenda (subject to disputes as to what that agenda was) and everyone went along with it. The Main Line churches dominated the scene in this country, not now the state church but comfortable with bringing people to cultural Christianity. With the decline of Main Line churches, Evangelicals have tried to fill the void. But Evangelical churches are, by definition, about a decision. To be a truly national/societal church isn’t about decisions; it’s about setting the pace in a society. Those who don’t like the pace they’ve set either must revolt (with the consequences of failure) or leave.
At this point, instead of playing around with “influencer” games, Evangelicals have only two choices.
The first is what I call the “Jehu Option,” i.e. a revolt until their opponents are gone. Some would like to think that the riot at the Capitol 6 January 2021 was the beginning of such an option, but given the desultory way the rioters assaulted vs. the inadequate response of the Capitol Police, we’re a long way from that happening. In any case I doubt Evangelicals (or any other dissidents) could pull it together to make it happen. I’ve always felt that the fall of the Republic will come from outside taking advantage of internal weakness and division; the idea that we can replicate the American Revolution against ourselves is a non-starter.
The second is to recognise that we have lost control of the levers of secular power and plan accordingly. In reality Evangelicals have not had their hands anywhere near these levers since at least World War I. The events of the Trump era were an aberration; Evangelicals were forced to go along with someone who was very different from their idea of a good, respectable human being. The fact that some tried to apply adoration to their icon only shows that it’s easier to try to get away from the apostolic churches than it is to actually do it.
I don’t think that the New Testament supports the “Jehu Option” in any form (the Old Testament wasn’t really happy about the outcome of that bloodbath either.) Getting Evangelicals past their defective concept of the relationship of the Old and New Testament–which makes options like that and the American Revolution morally plausible–isn’t going to be an easy task. Getting American Evangelicals past their a)conflation of their faith in God with their love of country and b)their idea that Evangelical Christianity is the “way up” isn’t going to be easy either, although the latter should be obvious in a country where there isn’t much of a way up for most of the population.
What Evangelicals need to do is to is to quit trying to scale/conquer the seven mountains and try to move one:
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. (Mark 11:22-23 KJV)
To which the great Bossuet commented as follows:
Behold the wonder of wonders: man clothed in the omnipotence of God.
Go, said the Saviour, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, case out devils: freely have you received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8) Who ever gave such a command?
And he sent them to preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:2) Who ever sent his ministers with such commands? Go, He said, into this house and heal those whom you will find there. All were filled with wonder at such commands. And yet, he proceeded even further: All that you ask in my name, you shall receive. (John 14:14) You will be able to do all that I am able to do. You will do all of the greatest things that you have seen me do, and you will do even greater things. In fact, if one was cured on touching the edge of the robe of Jesus Christ while He was wearing it, weren’t even greater miracles being performed by St. Paul, when there were even brought from his body, to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them? (Acts 19:12) And not only the linens which had touched the apostles had that power, but their very shadow: when Peter came, his shadow at the least, might overshadow any of them, and they might be delivered from their infirmities. (Acts 5:15)
Here, therefore, is the greatest miracle of Jesus Christ. Not only is He all-powerful, but here He renders man all-powerful and, if possible, more powerful than He Himself is, performing constantly greater miracles, and all through faith and through prayer: and all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive. (Matthew 21:22) Faith, therefore, and prayer are all-powerful, and they clothe man with the omnipotence of God. If you can believe, said the Saviour, all is possible to him who believes. (Mark 9:22)
The performance of miracles, therefore, is not the difficulty. Rather, the difficulty is to believe. If you can believe. This is the miracle of miracles; to believe absolutely and without hesitation. I believe, Lord, help my unbelief (Mark 9:23), said the man to whom Jesus said: If you can believe.