Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 18, 1970

Reflections On Rebellion

Hoyt H. Houchen

Riots and protests are common occurrences in our nation today. Much of what we view in the news anymore, is a milling mob in front of some federal or state building, or a student demonstration on some college campus. Protesters quietly parade or "sit in" in some instances while in others they are vociferous. That some things should be protested we do not deny, and it is too often that good people will sit idly by without so much as raising a little finger in opposition to evil. Christians, however, cannot be pictured as having a part in violent dissension, the kind that is usually so evident in our society.

We are convinced that much of what we see in our present day demonstrations and riots is nothing short of obstrusive defiance to authority. The obstreperous long-haired youth who pops off his resentment to the establishment is most likely expressing his dislike for authority; he is disagreeably sensitive to being told what he must do. Defiance is conspicuous by the surly dispositions and even facial expressions on some of modern youth. People are becoming sick and tired of the mass revolts made up of these defiant and arrogant characters and it is time that those who are decent and who respect authority express their sentiments properly. We shudder to think what our nation would be if it were controlled by such dissenters who characterize most mob demonstrations. Too often have authorities mollycoddled some of these ranting up-starts, spoiled brats, and they expect everyone to meekly surrender to their every demand. "We demand" has become their common phrase. The child who will not respect parental authority will not respect civil or any other kind, and the same laxity of discipline in the home that made him a despicable brat will make him one in the community.

From what we see and hear through the news media, we could easily be led to believe that everybody is protesting authority and our nation is on the brink of complete anarchy. We do not believe it and a calm evaluation of the problem will reveal again that it is the loud minority. We are reminded here of a story that we heard a few years ago. It seems that a restaurant out on the west coast was advertising for frog legs. Upon reading the request, an enthusiastic fellow notified the business that he could supply a carload of frog legs. A wire was sent to the potential supplier and an iced boxcar was prepared for the shipment. The eager seller ran to his pond and much to his dismay and embarrassment, the hapless fellow could find only two or three bullfrogs. They had been doing all the croaking! We are aware, however, that a few rabble-rousers can wield their influence, arousing the emotions of others until, if such is not stopped, dissension of mass proportions will result.

It is axiomatic that churches absorb their environment to some extent. An attitude of defiance is obviously found in many conservative congregations. Rarely is a congregation of the Lord to be found where there is not a minority element of dissenters, ready to rebel and fuss about something. The conservative cause has its share of discontented and disgruntled and it seems that their unrest is best served when they have something stirred. A few who "smart off" about things that they do not know would do well to adhere to Paul's admonition in 1 Thess. 4:11, "study to be quiet, and do your own business." The footnote in the American Standard translation for "study" is "be ambitious." It means "endeavor earnestly" (The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament by George Richer Berry, p. 533). It is "strive earnestly, make it one's aim" (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Joseph Henry Thayer, p. 655). If this admonition were followed in the church and out of the church, resentment and defiance would be virtually eliminated. While it is usually a small minority in the church with this attitude, they are the ones who do the least when it comes to saving souls and doing the work that God gave it to do.

God has arranged that each church have elders, men selected according to the qualifications given by the Holy Spirit in I Tim. 3 and Titus 1. Their work is to direct the affairs of the congregation in which they have been made elders, to oversee the flock (Acts 20:28). Men who are scripturally qualified and endeavoring to do the work assigned them should have the respect and cooperation of the members but usually where a small dissenting element exists, its defiance is actually to elders and this group would rather not be in submission to them. When we face up to it, there is an interesting resemblance in some churches to what prevails on some college campuses and elsewhere. We would hate to think what a church would be if it were in control by the defiant and resentful.

Those described in the foregoing are those who would like to dictate the policies for the elders. When elders and other members of the church will not placate the resentful and defiant, they will soon learn that they cannot have their own way and they will either have to straighten up or be marked and withdrawn from. In some instances they will leave on their own accord and before action can be taken, but if their determination is not to foment peace and harmony among the flock, then a church is better off without them. Factions should not be tolerated, for even though they be small, the innocent are often illusioned by their influence.

Sinful rebellion cannot be appeased.

— 12528 E. Alaska Place, Aurora, Colorado 80010