Rev. David Holwick K
First Baptist Church
Ledgewood, New Jersey
March 21, 1993
2 Kings 10:5-16
I. The rise of fanaticism.
A. Do you believe in fanaticism? Are you a fanatic?
1) Put another way: if you had lived 2,000 years ago, would
you have followed Jesus of Nazareth?
2) If you had lived 200 years ago, would you have agreed with
Thomas Paine and the American Revolution?
3) One person's fanatic is another's savior.
a) Our world offers many choices in this area.
B. David Koresh in Waco, Texas.
1) Believes he is Christ, or his immediate prophet.
a) Comment by employee at local bar:
"Pretty rowdy behavior for Jesus. He'd get a buzz
off beer and go squealing out of the parking lot."
(Newsweek, 3/22/93, p. 21)
2) Multiple wives, child brides and automatic weapons.
3) Standoff has gone on for days.
C. Abortion protestor Michael Griffin.
1) Prayed that Dr. Gunn would accept Christ, then killed him.
2) Wants to defend self with Bible.
3) Don Treshman of Rescue American said,
"While Gunn's death is unfortunate, it's also true that
quite a number of babies' lives will be saved."
D. Protests at doctor's home in Morris county: confrontational.
II. The example of King Jehu.
A. God's will, and beyond.
1) God prophesied his coming, anointed and directed him.
B. List of atrocities:
1) Israel's King Joram killed. 9:24
2) Judah's King Ahaziah killed. 9:27
3) Israel's Queen Mother Jezebel killed. 9:33
a) Jehu snacks afterwards, showing his callousness. 9:34
4) 70 descendants of Ahab killed. 10:7
a) Heads put in two piles. 10:8
5) Close friends, priests, advisors of Joram killed. 10:11
6) 42 relatives of Ahaziah killed. 10:14
7) Rest of Ahab's family killed. 10:17
8) Priests of Baal religion exterminated. 10:25
C. Compromise and expedience.
1) He wiped out Baalism, but not calf worship. 10:29
2) His devotion to God may have been political expedience.
a) He wiped out the south's royalty as well as the north's.
3) God condemned him for going beyond his will. Hosea 1:4
III. The lure of fanaticism.
A. In a world of compromise, convictions stand out.
Barry Goldwater's infamous line defines extremism:
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and ...
moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
As Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison put it more eloquently in
the first issue of his newspaper, "The Liberator":
"On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write,
No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate
Tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of a
Tell the mother to gradually rescue her baby from the fire
into which it has fallen -
But urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present.
I am in earnest - I will not equivocate - I will not excuse -
I will not retreat a single inch - AND I WILL BE HEARD."
1) Jehonadab son of Recab gravitated to Jehu. 9:15
a) The Recabites saw Israel as soft and materialistic.
b) They lived in tents and abstained from alcohol.
2) Many of those in cults are escaping empty lives.
3) Because church is so weak and wimpy, nothing changes.
a) (Comment by my predecessor that Ledgewood Baptist
has not made the impact it could.)
B. Lonely fanatics are often proved right in the end.
Operation Rescue is a modern form of extremism.
Abolition of slavery is an older form.
They were all-or-nothing, refused compromise, and took dramatic
steps to bring the issue before the nation.
Abraham Lincoln was not an extremist or an abolitionist.
To abolitionists, slavery was not an unfortunate and outmoded
institution - it was sin.
America was founded on compromise, but abolitionism would not
Thirty years later, after a war, slavery ceased.
Some historians discount the role of abolitionism.
But without abolitionism the sense of urgency to do something
about slavery disappears.
The hope of moderates who chose against extremism is that sense
and good will can prevail.
But such progress is not always certain.
Note Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa.
C. Some issues require extreme action.
1) Jehu's annihilation of Baal religion was necessary for
survival of Jewish faith.
a) Would you shoot Hitler or Himmler?
b) What about an abortionist?
2) Inaction often leads to defeat. "The only thing necessary
for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."
D. Great leaders have always been extreme.
1) Luther, Bonhoeffer were extremists. They had to be.
2) Jesus was very extreme - that's why they killed him.
a) Notice his commands: leave all, sword in families...
b) Early Christians were definitely labeled fanatics, and
as they were slaughtered by the thousands it was said:
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."
IV. Great dangers of fanaticism.
A. We can't always see the future as clearly as we think.
1) Dr. Gunn may have killed hundreds of more babies - but then
again, he may have changed and been a missionary doctor.
2) For Christians, the end does NOT always justifies the means.
a) Both end and means must be in God's will.
b) We cannot use compromise to defeat compromise.
c) (or death to defeat death.)
B. By winning one battle, you can lose the others.
1) Many Christian zealots have lost the faith.
A good number of evangelical prohibitionists lost their faith.
Some were disappointed in the church's mealy-mouthed response
to their cause.
As institutions, churches were quite timid.
And many abolitionists became so caught up in the antislavery
cause they gradually they substituted the cause for Christ.
They experienced a lifetime of frustration and the final
victory - by war - dealt a hard blow to their faith.
Faith linked too closely to a single cause, is vulnerable.
2) Fanaticism can alienate.
a) Many expect the Right to Life movement to lose much
support because of the extremists.
b) Bible-believing Christians are open to ridicule because
of David Koresh in Waco, Texas.
c) Abolitionists never gained a majority.
The more they argued, the more rigid Southerners became.
When abolitionism began in 1830, many Southerners thought
slavery was wrong.
A few years later they would kill any abolitionist they
Abolitionism destroyed dialogue. Fanaticism always does.
C. Fanaticism is easily manipulated.
1) Jehu's zeal for God may have been more political than religious.
2) Abortion rally and guilt tactics.
D. Fanaticism can bring out the worst in people or religion.
The First Crusade was launched in 1095 with the battle cry
"Deus Vult" (God wills it).
First Jews in the Rhine valley were persecuted, then all the
inhabitants of Jerusalem were slaughtered.
The charismatic priest Raymond of Aguilers wrote: "In the temple
of Solomon, one rode in blood up to the knees and even to the
horses' bridles, by the just and marvelous judgment of God."
In the Third Crusade, Richard the Lion-Hearted slaughtered 3,000
captives from Acre in 1191.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux declared in launching the Second
"The Christian glories in the death of a pagan, because thereby
Christ himself is glorified."
In 1209, Pope Innocent III launched an armed crusade against
Albigenses believers in southern France.
When the besieged city of Beziers fell, soldiers reportedly asked
their papal adviser how to distinguish the faithful from the
non-believers among the captives.
He commanded: "Kill them all. God will know his own."
Nearly 20,000 were slaughtered - many first blinded, mutilated,
dragged behind horses, or used for target practice.
Honesty requires us to admit that religious fanaticism is behind
much of the bloodshed in Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Lebanon
There are certainly other factors, but the role of narrow-minded
faith cannot be ignored.
V. Fanaticism, but only in love.
A. Zeal is a good thing, if it is according to knowledge. Rom 10:2
1) Zeal should lead us to more dedicated service. Rom 12:11
2) We need to care enough about sin to make a stand on issues.
B. God has all the answers, but we do not.
Oliver Cromwell was deemed a moderate because he massacred
only Catholics and Anglicans, not other Protestants.
This Puritan general commanded Bible-carrying soldiers,
whom he roused to religious fervor.
After decimating an Anglican army, Cromwell said,
"God made them as stubble to our swords."
He demanded the beheading of the defeated King Charles I
and made himself the dictator of England during the 1650s.
One opponent once told him, "Humbly consider, that you may
C. We trust in God to bring about justice.
1) God can work without our direct efforts.
a) He never blesses sin.
b) We shouldn't have to take justice into our own hands.
2) Rev. Charles Stanley and rejection of Operation Rescue's
abortion clinic blockades.
a) Christians should never break a law.
b) Harassment will only alienate unbelievers.
D. Spiritual principle: God's person, doing God's will in God's way,
will receive God's blessing.
1) We can be born-again, convinced of our cause, and dead wrong.
2) Truth must be spoken in love, even if it is not as effective
as a gun.
3) Our primary allegiance must be to Jesus, not causes.
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