Jenna Ellis, former Trump lawyer and current media firebrand, is a charter member of the Let ‘Er Rip and Let It Fly Academy. Her latest fusillade came on her video podcast, during which, while in discussion with conservative black pastor John Amanchukwu, made the following comment about the November 20th shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado which left five club attendees dead.
Talk about going there.
Multiple angles here, none of them overly angelic. First, when it comes to matters involving God, pay no attention to the godless’ railings. Moving on, if one believes the Bible is God’s inerrant Word, there is nothing inaccurate in at least the latter part of Ellis’ statement. If there is no separation between perfect God and imperfect man, said separation being sin, then Christ’s coming to earth and dying on the Cross was a meaningless exercise as His death, and subsequent resurrection, served no purpose. There is a penalty for sin. There needs to be repentance accompanying forgiveness. Repentance, unless your nature sin-wise is one and done (*snortyeahright*), is an ongoing process. We are human. Humans fail. Humans need incessant contact with the living God as we, to quote Paul, work out our salvation with fear and trembling. As the hymn says, we need Him every hour.
Where things get shaky is Ellis’ assertion that there was no evidence in the victims’ lives of faith in Christ. On the surface, it is easy to assume people hanging out at an LGBQT+ club on Saturday night most likely aren’t going to be in church the following morning. Then again, not everyone at church is a Christian either, or if at church (again quoting Paul), is conducting themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Many talk the talk but do not walk the walk. Others have gone astray, but their hearts remain in Christ as their head drives them into sin. Even in the face of solid evidence, if we have a genuine love for people and concern for their eternal destination, we must preach God’s Word and live out its dictates as best we can. Empowered by the Holy Spirit living in us, we must remember we don’t know God’s workings or place within someone else’s life.
God alone knows the heart. The fact that He knows our hearts and still died for us proves His love. Even in the literal fire and brimstone Old Testament days, He said, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It’s not that God blows off sin. His Word is clear on what is and is not permissible in His sight. That said, it demands to be stated He Alone is our arbiter, and Christ Alone is our mediator Who died so that in Him we may be declared worthy of eternal life in His presence.
Being a (ahem) bit older, the matter reminds me of Christian musician and minister Oden Fong’s 1979 album “Come For The Childen.” The late Rick Griffin’s striking album cover artwork depicts Jesus’ head wearing a hood as He overlooks a valley of blood. It was Griffin’s depiction of the battle of Armageddon. Not exactly your average worship album material, but “Come For The Children” is not the stuff of warm fuzzy and all the feels.
It bears mention that Fong was and is a product of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in the 1970s, where the late Chuck Smith pastored a flock of young Jesus people entirely separate from traditional churchgoers, what with the hippie hair, clothes, and music. Smith firmly believed that Christ’s Second Coming was imminent. He therefore placed tremendous emphasis on evangelism so that as many people as possible would come to know Christ as Lord and Savior before His Return. This evidenced itself with the Maranatha! Music record label created by the church, housing artists such as Fong and his band Mustard Seed Faith, with its at the time shocking embrace of current music bringing an evangelical lyric message. Smith also believed in an intensely literal interpretation of prophetic Scriptures, most noticeably the Book of Revelation. Its gruesome depiction of the coming Antichrist and God’s apocalyptic judgment of the earth and its inhabitants who rejected Him tied into the fuel that fed Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. The church and record labels’ fruit came from being bold, blunt, and, if need be, brutal in telling others about what they believed would soon transpire.
Momentarily setting aside Ellis’ comments, we focus on the aforementioned album before circling back. Musically, “Come For The Children” defies easy categorization. It contains elements of arena rock’s first generation (Boston, Foreigner, leaning toward the latter), yet has an anthemic style its contemporaries never quite reached. Part of this stems from producer Jonathan David Brown’s lush, without becoming overblown, style. The main contributor is that Fong was clearly disinterested in creating anything that fit in with the overwhelming majority of contemporary Christian music at the time, a landscape dominated by ?ber-soft pop. “Come For The Children” is unashamedly purposeful art, a work where the music is of the highest quality serving as a vessel for Fong’s message. And oh, what a message.
There should be no surprise that “Come For The Children”‘s title track makes no bones about the fact that at the Second Coming, not everyone will be going to heaven. There is a hell and judgment, and those who proclaim ‘only God can judge me’ will, doubtless to their surprise, discover that He has not only reserved the right to do so but will execute the same.
The album is not all fire and brimstone. Fong addresses the loneliness of life without Christ, plus the joys and struggles of following Him. A thread of tenderness weaves itself throughout “Come For The Children,” an earnest call to saved and unsaved alike. Fong is not using his Bible to beat people over the head but instead speaks from it as the Word of Life, the blueprint of a genuine wish for all to be saved. No one makes music like this today. Few, even from the fieriest of pulpits, preach with such unblinking honesty. “Come For The Children” was and is a true masterpiece; a vital part of Christian rock history that remains vibrant after all these years.
Back to Ellis’ comments. Those grabbing their portable fainting couches over what she said are Scripturally ignorant. That said, she could have said, “I pray that God will have mercy on them,” and left it at that. Sometimes you need a bludgeon. However, it is best advised to primarily preach Christ crucified and risen, reconciling the living to Him. He alone passes judgment on the dead. It will be our turn for that soon enough. Call ourselves and others to repentance? Definitely. But not at the expense of calling ourselves and others to rejoice in Jesus.