Danger Without and Danger Within: The Hutaree and Pride

Danger Without: The Hutaree

By now, you have very likely heard of the Hutaree, a Michigan based militia group.  They have been operating in relative obscurity until the last several days.  Hutaree means “warriors of God.”  This group allegedly concocted a scheme to kill police officers.  They were raided and seven people from the militia were arrested.    

Military-style training videos are found on the home page of their website, not too far under the John 15:13 header, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Sadly, the Hutaree identifies itself as a Christian group with Jesus as their General.  As with so many groups like this one, their doctrine seems to be based on an unhealthy preoccupation with end time events coupled with bad interpretation.  This is true of them as I read the “Doctrine of the Hutaree” page on their website which primarily deals with the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-12.

It deeply disturbs me when radical groups like this call themselves Christians.  I despise it.  This is a group of end-time absorbed, pathetic, pseudo-patriot, zealots.  When Jesus was betrayed, He was met at night by a band of Roman soldiers.  John 18:3 says, “So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.”  Peter responds with violence, “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right” (John 18:10).  Jesus’ response?  “Put your sword into its sheath” (John 18:11).  As Jesus stands before Pilate, He tells the Roman leader plainly, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews.  But my kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36).  To be involved in the cause of Christ is not a call to arms.  At least in Peter’s case, it was a defensive strategy.  In the case of this militia group it was a preemptive strike.  Jesus’ Petrine rebuke indicates that violence is counterproductive to advancing His mission.  John Piper fittingly said,  

We Christians are ashamed of many of our ancestors who did not act in the spirit of Christ. No doubt there are traces of this plague in our own souls. But true Christianity—which is radically different from Western culture, and may not be found in many Christian churches—renounces the advance of religion by means of violence. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus said. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting” (John 18:36). The way of the cross is the way of suffering. Christians are called to die, not kill, in order to show the world how they are loved by Christ. (John Piper, The Passion of Jesus Christ, 14). 

Groups like the Hutaree remind us that there is danger without.  I’m grateful that this alleged plot was thwarted.  My other concern is to simply communicate: The Hutaree ≠ Christianity.

While there is danger without, there is also danger within each of us. 

Danger Within: Pride

Speaking of John Piper, you may have heard of the announcement he made this weekend to Bethlehem Baptist.  He plans to take an eight month leave from ministry to examine his soul and strengthen his marriage.  Thankfully this is preventative, to keep him from committing a ministry-disqualifying sin rather than restorative, to deal with an already committed ministry-disqualifying sin.  He says,    

But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.

 You can read the entire statement here.

The flesh says to us, “be a sponge and soak in the glory.”  Grace says, “repent and be a mirror—reflect the glory of God to those around you.”  To be sure pride has a powerfully seducing quality to it—not one of us is exempt from this.  This commendable action by John Piper is a simple reminder that pastors are sinners under transformation like every other Christian.  All of the comments I quickly perused on the Desiring God blog rightly praise him for his decision.  What he did took guts and humility.  His ministry of the word is special, no doubt.  But a life that moves the battle with sin from the pulpit to the heart and home is nothing short of God’s grace at work a human heart. 

May God grant him clarity of spiritual sight to deal with the danger within and may we learn from his example to do the same, especially for those of us who are pastors.

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