Dear Keepers Of The Flame:

“Burn, baby, bum!” shrieked the Watts rioter in August, 1965, as he hurled a Molotov cocktail through a plate-glass window and yet another furniture store became a flaming symbol of the results of liberal social protest. Little did I realize then that this inflammatory cry was a proclamation of the “Word of God.” Enlightenment has come from the Southern Presbyterians’ Council on Church and Society, which told the church’s 1967 General Assembly that “we must listen to the cries ‘Yankee, go home,’ ‘Bum, baby, burn,’ ‘America will be crushed.’ Our quest must be for the Word of God that comes to us in, through, and beyond these words of men.”

I never cease to be amazed at the uncanny ability of theologically liberal social-ethics “experts” to recognize the divine pronouncements in revolutionary battle cries. And I also marvel at their penchant for determining exactly where God is or is not “at work in society.” By a rare coincidence, however, they invariably find God’s hand in radical and liberal causes but seldom see it in moderate, time-tested measures. They are deaf to the Bible’s emphasis that the Church’s primary task is evangelistic, not political. But they clearly hear God speaking to us as a bearded, khaki-clad Castroite shouts “Yankee, go home!,” a power-hungry Communist declares “America will be crushed!,” or a wild-eyed hoodlum screams “Burn, baby, burn!” I wonder what new message from God they have heard from the lips of rioters in Detroit and Newark.

God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, but so help me I surely can’t hear him speaking from those blazing furniture stores. As for the burning convictions of many of our ecclesiastical social prophets, I do not doubt that they come from a hot ...

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