The Hutaree

Have you heard about the Christian militia cult known as the Hutaree? They have been busted as domestic terrorists.

[David] Stone and eight other suspected Hutaree members, self-proclaimed “Christian warriors” who trained themselves in paramilitary techniques in preparation for a battle against the Antichrist, are charged with seditious conspiracy, or plotting to levy war against the U.S. They were arrested after a series of weekend raids across the Midwest.

Prosecutors say the group planned to make a false 911 call, kill responding police officers, then set off a bomb at the funeral to kill many more. An indictment said that after the attacks, the group planned to retreat to “rally points” protected by trip-wired explosives for a violent standoff with law enforcement personnel. . . .

Federal officials said they began monitoring the militia last summer and believed an attack was planned for April. Waterstreet said Hutaree was planning training that month where they would kill people that “came upon them.” Court documents said the undercover agent and a cooperating witness were part of the federal probe.

Eight suspects were arraigned Wednesday in Detroit. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Donald A. Scheer entered not guilty pleas on behalf of seven who stood mute to the charges, including David Brian Stone. Stone’s eldest son, 21-year-old Joshua Matthew Stone, pleaded not guilty.

Detention hearings for six defendants followed, but the judge didn’t issue a ruling. Two more were scheduled for Thursday. The ninth suspect appeared in court in Indiana but no plea was entered.

In arguing for detention, Waterstreet told the court the suspects’ conduct was at issue.

“It’s not about a religious group,” Waterstreet said. “It’s not about the militia. It’s about a group who decided to oppose by force the U.S. by using violence and weapons.”

Waterstreet said Stone sought to “own his own country,” and send police retreating to the cities. Waterstreet said Stone “indicated the wives and children of the brotherhood (police) were equal targets.”

via Prosecutor: Agent Infiltrated Christian Militia.

You can check out the Hutaree’s website.

Also, read their Wikipedia writeup. (Note the Pokemon connection.)

Are these folks Christians? Conservatives? Terrorists? (See the post below for my own discussion with tODD on this topic.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    “Are they Christians, Conservatives, Terrorists?” Quite possibly all three, I would tentatively answer. I know this is often said in jest, but I mean it quite seriously: “it could only happen in America”.
    I speak as a non-American who is definitely pro-American but not uncritically so, and as one who is seeking to understand: What is it in the American psyche or worldview that leads to this? Is this the legacy of the Pilgrim Fathers? Calvinist resistance to tyrrany? Anabaptist anti- authoritarianism? Please explain…I’d be most interested in responses.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    “Are they Christians, Conservatives, Terrorists?” Quite possibly all three, I would tentatively answer. I know this is often said in jest, but I mean it quite seriously: “it could only happen in America”.
    I speak as a non-American who is definitely pro-American but not uncritically so, and as one who is seeking to understand: What is it in the American psyche or worldview that leads to this? Is this the legacy of the Pilgrim Fathers? Calvinist resistance to tyrrany? Anabaptist anti- authoritarianism? Please explain…I’d be most interested in responses.

  • Peter Leavitt

    These people are ignorant Christian terrorists, that have no relation to the conservative Pilgrim fathers or Calvinists, who, if they fought, did so with careful deliberation and proper authority.

  • Peter Leavitt

    These people are ignorant Christian terrorists, that have no relation to the conservative Pilgrim fathers or Calvinists, who, if they fought, did so with careful deliberation and proper authority.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    Thank you, Peter; I’m inclined to agree with you based on what I know about the Pilgrim Fathers and Calvinists, but this phenomena must have some historical antecedents. You left out the Anabaptist anti-authoritarians in your comment…is that possibly the source? It would be helpful to know the religious affiliation of the members of this group. Anyone?

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    Thank you, Peter; I’m inclined to agree with you based on what I know about the Pilgrim Fathers and Calvinists, but this phenomena must have some historical antecedents. You left out the Anabaptist anti-authoritarians in your comment…is that possibly the source? It would be helpful to know the religious affiliation of the members of this group. Anyone?

  • Peter Leavitt

    I don’t really know about the history of Anabaptists, though I’m unaware of any serious Anababtist individual that has advocated ignorant ant savage terrorism such as that of these wing-nut Hutarees.

  • Peter Leavitt

    I don’t really know about the history of Anabaptists, though I’m unaware of any serious Anababtist individual that has advocated ignorant ant savage terrorism such as that of these wing-nut Hutarees.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    ‘Wing-nuts’…LOL! I don’t think I’ve heard that word before in such a context. I like it.
    I seem to recall from ‘Reformation 101′ that the Anabaptists were quite restive in the aftermath of 1517, and I was wondering if this was the pedigree of this group.
    But I suppose we can’t discount the possibility that this is a unique American phenomena.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    ‘Wing-nuts’…LOL! I don’t think I’ve heard that word before in such a context. I like it.
    I seem to recall from ‘Reformation 101′ that the Anabaptists were quite restive in the aftermath of 1517, and I was wondering if this was the pedigree of this group.
    But I suppose we can’t discount the possibility that this is a unique American phenomena.

  • Winston Smith

    One cringes at the juxtaposition of “Christian” and “terrorist” — like “Christian yoga” (from yesterday’s discussion), it is a contradiction in terms.

    “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight …” John 18:36

    “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up thy sword again unto his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Matthew 26:52

    For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
    (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the putting down of strong holds;) 2 Cor. 10:3-4

    For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. James 1:20

    Starting a shooting war with the government is NOT the Christian way — not the Biblical way, at any rate — of improving things.

    Basically, what you have with the Hutaree is another example of government agents infiltrating a group of dumb people and talking them into plotting a crime. Then the government arrests the gullible and headstrong militia types, and the media has a field day lumping together Christians, pro-lifers and conservatives with the nuts running around with guns out in the woods with camo paint on their faces. Having scared us, the government and media tell us that we must have more security and fewer civil liberties.

  • Winston Smith

    One cringes at the juxtaposition of “Christian” and “terrorist” — like “Christian yoga” (from yesterday’s discussion), it is a contradiction in terms.

    “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight …” John 18:36

    “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up thy sword again unto his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Matthew 26:52

    For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
    (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the putting down of strong holds;) 2 Cor. 10:3-4

    For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. James 1:20

    Starting a shooting war with the government is NOT the Christian way — not the Biblical way, at any rate — of improving things.

    Basically, what you have with the Hutaree is another example of government agents infiltrating a group of dumb people and talking them into plotting a crime. Then the government arrests the gullible and headstrong militia types, and the media has a field day lumping together Christians, pro-lifers and conservatives with the nuts running around with guns out in the woods with camo paint on their faces. Having scared us, the government and media tell us that we must have more security and fewer civil liberties.

  • Michael Z.

    Pokemon connection? That is a funny thought.

    “I choose you, Pikachu, now overthrow the government!”

  • Michael Z.

    Pokemon connection? That is a funny thought.

    “I choose you, Pikachu, now overthrow the government!”

  • Dan Kempin

    Winston #6,

    “Basically, what you have with the Hutaree is another example of government agents infiltrating a group of dumb people and talking them into plotting a crime. Then the government arrests the gullible and headstrong militia types, and the media has a field day lumping together Christians, pro-lifers and conservatives with the nuts running around with guns out in the woods with camo paint on their faces”

    I’m inclined to agree, with the addition of vilifying firearm ownership.

    That is not to discount the premise for discussion or to dispute the facts, but (as is so often the case) I’m not convinced we have all the facts and have them accurately.

  • Dan Kempin

    Winston #6,

    “Basically, what you have with the Hutaree is another example of government agents infiltrating a group of dumb people and talking them into plotting a crime. Then the government arrests the gullible and headstrong militia types, and the media has a field day lumping together Christians, pro-lifers and conservatives with the nuts running around with guns out in the woods with camo paint on their faces”

    I’m inclined to agree, with the addition of vilifying firearm ownership.

    That is not to discount the premise for discussion or to dispute the facts, but (as is so often the case) I’m not convinced we have all the facts and have them accurately.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    The original anabaptists DID fight to overthrow the earthly governments and did so, thinking to bring on the return of Christ. This was the issue during Luther’s day with the peasant wars, which were instigated and led by the anabaptists. Luther wanted the princes to put down the revolution, and they did, in a very bloody fashion (though the anabaptists committed very bloody atrocities, slaughtering whole families of their feudal overlords).

    I thought that “Huteree” might derive from “Jakob Hutter,” one of the leaders of the 16th century anabaptists, and his “Hutterites.” But I found that Hutter was the one who, reacting against their earlier violent nature, turned the movement in a pacifist direction. The Hutterites were kin to the pacifist Mennonites and Amish. (There were also the anabaptists who went more mainstream, as we see in today’s Baptists.)

    So these “Huteree,” though perhaps alluding in their name to Jakob Hutter in an incorrect way, might be a reversion–either consciously or unconsciously–to that violent tradition.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    The original anabaptists DID fight to overthrow the earthly governments and did so, thinking to bring on the return of Christ. This was the issue during Luther’s day with the peasant wars, which were instigated and led by the anabaptists. Luther wanted the princes to put down the revolution, and they did, in a very bloody fashion (though the anabaptists committed very bloody atrocities, slaughtering whole families of their feudal overlords).

    I thought that “Huteree” might derive from “Jakob Hutter,” one of the leaders of the 16th century anabaptists, and his “Hutterites.” But I found that Hutter was the one who, reacting against their earlier violent nature, turned the movement in a pacifist direction. The Hutterites were kin to the pacifist Mennonites and Amish. (There were also the anabaptists who went more mainstream, as we see in today’s Baptists.)

    So these “Huteree,” though perhaps alluding in their name to Jakob Hutter in an incorrect way, might be a reversion–either consciously or unconsciously–to that violent tradition.

  • WebMonk

    I’ve got to call bull on something. Winston do you have ANY sources which suggest that’s what happened – that the militia wasn’t planning any attacks on its own until some government agents infiltrated it and started planting and cultivating the ideas just to then arrest them??

    Veith – as far as I can tell, Hutaree is a made-up word. I think you give them far too much credit about their knowledge of a relatively obscure historic Christian figure. They have a variety of other made-up words they used on their website too, mainly for their rank titles. (Radok, Boramander, Zulif, etc) I would be willing to lay money on the fact that if one asked them if they come from the “anabaptist” tradition, they would reply something about how they don’t attend a Baptist church.

  • WebMonk

    I’ve got to call bull on something. Winston do you have ANY sources which suggest that’s what happened – that the militia wasn’t planning any attacks on its own until some government agents infiltrated it and started planting and cultivating the ideas just to then arrest them??

    Veith – as far as I can tell, Hutaree is a made-up word. I think you give them far too much credit about their knowledge of a relatively obscure historic Christian figure. They have a variety of other made-up words they used on their website too, mainly for their rank titles. (Radok, Boramander, Zulif, etc) I would be willing to lay money on the fact that if one asked them if they come from the “anabaptist” tradition, they would reply something about how they don’t attend a Baptist church.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.com/ John

    To me the most interesting thing about this story is that we knew about these terrorists and stopped them in a rather public fashion. We also knew about the underwear bomber, but we let him fly. Also, the media is not hesitatnt to call these peeps what they are – militant Christian terrorists. And yet our culture is increasingly and intentionally avoiding using the same language toward Muslims. Is there a double standard here, or did Hutaree just happen to emerge in a region of superior law-enforcement capability and media honesty?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.com/ John

    To me the most interesting thing about this story is that we knew about these terrorists and stopped them in a rather public fashion. We also knew about the underwear bomber, but we let him fly. Also, the media is not hesitatnt to call these peeps what they are – militant Christian terrorists. And yet our culture is increasingly and intentionally avoiding using the same language toward Muslims. Is there a double standard here, or did Hutaree just happen to emerge in a region of superior law-enforcement capability and media honesty?

  • WebMonk

    John,
    From what seems to have happened in the underwear bomber situation, there were multiple places where information needed to be passed along, and wasn’t, and there was “only” a span of a couple months, at most. That was the main failing there.

    For the Hutaree group, they were all in-country and the lines of communication among law enforcement and intelligence were much more direct and had a lot more time to percolate up through the layers of communication.

  • WebMonk

    John,
    From what seems to have happened in the underwear bomber situation, there were multiple places where information needed to be passed along, and wasn’t, and there was “only” a span of a couple months, at most. That was the main failing there.

    For the Hutaree group, they were all in-country and the lines of communication among law enforcement and intelligence were much more direct and had a lot more time to percolate up through the layers of communication.

  • Ryan

    I think I would call them millennialists as well as anabaptists. There seems to be certain strains of millennialism that stir this up in all religions and I think it is tied to having a earthly Kingdom of God. Also, remember Anabaptists had two strains peaceful (Menno Simms etc…) and militant.

  • Ryan

    I think I would call them millennialists as well as anabaptists. There seems to be certain strains of millennialism that stir this up in all religions and I think it is tied to having a earthly Kingdom of God. Also, remember Anabaptists had two strains peaceful (Menno Simms etc…) and militant.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century
  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century
  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    So much for my ability to add a hyperlink. :(

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    So much for my ability to add a hyperlink. :(

  • DonS

    They’re nutters, plain and simple. We had this discussion on another thread. If the allegations are true, then I am glad they were arrested, and the plot was stopped. When we try to align nutters with either political persuasion, for the purpose of smearing those legitimate adherents of that persuasion, we do a great disservice to our Republic.

  • DonS

    They’re nutters, plain and simple. We had this discussion on another thread. If the allegations are true, then I am glad they were arrested, and the plot was stopped. When we try to align nutters with either political persuasion, for the purpose of smearing those legitimate adherents of that persuasion, we do a great disservice to our Republic.

  • DonS

    For the record, according to this article, the only arrestee for whom party identification could initially be made is a registered Democrat.

    http://www.toledoblade.com/article/20100401/NEWS16/4010369

    Now, I am not posting this for the purpose of aligning this nutter group with Democrats. But that fact should hopefully dampen the media’s efforts to smear conservatives.

  • DonS

    For the record, according to this article, the only arrestee for whom party identification could initially be made is a registered Democrat.

    http://www.toledoblade.com/article/20100401/NEWS16/4010369

    Now, I am not posting this for the purpose of aligning this nutter group with Democrats. But that fact should hopefully dampen the media’s efforts to smear conservatives.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry D. Bishop

    They are not Christians. How much longer are we going to call people “Christians” who do not follow Christ?
    Consider when Jesus said, “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.”
    While I am not a pacifist, I can undoubtedly say that Christianity does not advance by fighting. It is a battle for the soul, heart, and minds of people. Not a battle by sword or gun. God’s kingdom advances as Jesus reigns in the hearts of those being converted. This conversion evidences itself in a changed life. Contrast the early Christian martyrs who sacrificed their lives (and indeed those persecuted around the world today) versus the Islamic “martyrs” who blow themselves up in hopes of killing others.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry D. Bishop

    They are not Christians. How much longer are we going to call people “Christians” who do not follow Christ?
    Consider when Jesus said, “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.”
    While I am not a pacifist, I can undoubtedly say that Christianity does not advance by fighting. It is a battle for the soul, heart, and minds of people. Not a battle by sword or gun. God’s kingdom advances as Jesus reigns in the hearts of those being converted. This conversion evidences itself in a changed life. Contrast the early Christian martyrs who sacrificed their lives (and indeed those persecuted around the world today) versus the Islamic “martyrs” who blow themselves up in hopes of killing others.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Barry (@18), while I agree with you that “Christianity does not advance by fighting”, I have to ask: on what basis can you say that “They are not Christians”? (I’m assuming here that you don’t know any of them; if you do, please say so.)

    Can you say with confidence that their theological errors preclude their being Christians? Can I say with confidence the the theological errors evidenced on your Web site preclude your being a Christian?

    Can we as Christians judge the hearts of people we don’t even know, based on obvious shortcomings in their understanding of some part of Christianity?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Barry (@18), while I agree with you that “Christianity does not advance by fighting”, I have to ask: on what basis can you say that “They are not Christians”? (I’m assuming here that you don’t know any of them; if you do, please say so.)

    Can you say with confidence that their theological errors preclude their being Christians? Can I say with confidence the the theological errors evidenced on your Web site preclude your being a Christian?

    Can we as Christians judge the hearts of people we don’t even know, based on obvious shortcomings in their understanding of some part of Christianity?

  • G

    gEE, tODD, how bout the basis of, I don’t know, by their fruits? Shimminy, what a question.

  • G

    gEE, tODD, how bout the basis of, I don’t know, by their fruits? Shimminy, what a question.

  • The Jungle Cat

    I would say that the primary difference between conservative and progressive is that a conservative believes that the line that separates good from evil “cuts through every human heart,” to borrow a phrase from Solzhenitsyn. This is not to say that conservatives are always right (pun unintended). They frequently misapply their outlook; but, based on this definition, the Hutaree were not misapplying conservatism. They just weren’t conservative to begin with.

  • The Jungle Cat

    I would say that the primary difference between conservative and progressive is that a conservative believes that the line that separates good from evil “cuts through every human heart,” to borrow a phrase from Solzhenitsyn. This is not to say that conservatives are always right (pun unintended). They frequently misapply their outlook; but, based on this definition, the Hutaree were not misapplying conservatism. They just weren’t conservative to begin with.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    G (@20), oh, sorry. I didn’t realize Christians were now in the business of judging people’s hearts.

    Tell me, G, am I a Christian? Judge me by my fruits!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    G (@20), oh, sorry. I didn’t realize Christians were now in the business of judging people’s hearts.

    Tell me, G, am I a Christian? Judge me by my fruits!

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry D. Bishop

    tODD @19
    thanks for the question about whether I can judge if the Hutaree are Christians. It is a good one. I do not know any of them personally. I also concede that only God can judge the heart of an individual.
    However, Jesus tells us in Mt 7:15-23 that believers can recognize false prophets by their fruits and that many religious people who think they are following Jesus will be turned away by him.
    The reason for my comment is because I think it is a great error to assume someone is a Christian first just because they profess to be one. Especially, if their actions indicate otherwise. If they are Christians then their lives and beliefs will line up with the Bible.
    Yes, there are some theological positions that people hold to which I could say (based on God’s Word) they are not Christians, like denying the Trinity.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry D. Bishop

    tODD @19
    thanks for the question about whether I can judge if the Hutaree are Christians. It is a good one. I do not know any of them personally. I also concede that only God can judge the heart of an individual.
    However, Jesus tells us in Mt 7:15-23 that believers can recognize false prophets by their fruits and that many religious people who think they are following Jesus will be turned away by him.
    The reason for my comment is because I think it is a great error to assume someone is a Christian first just because they profess to be one. Especially, if their actions indicate otherwise. If they are Christians then their lives and beliefs will line up with the Bible.
    Yes, there are some theological positions that people hold to which I could say (based on God’s Word) they are not Christians, like denying the Trinity.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    @ Barry
    Since we can’t judge hearts with any consistency, a person’s profession of faith is the best way we have to determine their religion. They may be bad Christians, mad Christians, or even heretical Christians, as these guys may be, but if they claim to be Christian, that’s what they should be regarded as, unless and until we have compelling evidence otherwise (i.e. evidence of renunciation of the faith). That is, after all, one reason why we have creeds and confessions of faith, they are public badges of faith.

    I know what you’re getting at Barry, but I just want to issue a note of caution about going down that path, because really, how many of us can say our lives and beliefs fall in line with the Bible? In my faith (Lutheran), we have confession of sins every Sunday to confess how we have _not_ lived up to what God requires of us.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    @ Barry
    Since we can’t judge hearts with any consistency, a person’s profession of faith is the best way we have to determine their religion. They may be bad Christians, mad Christians, or even heretical Christians, as these guys may be, but if they claim to be Christian, that’s what they should be regarded as, unless and until we have compelling evidence otherwise (i.e. evidence of renunciation of the faith). That is, after all, one reason why we have creeds and confessions of faith, they are public badges of faith.

    I know what you’re getting at Barry, but I just want to issue a note of caution about going down that path, because really, how many of us can say our lives and beliefs fall in line with the Bible? In my faith (Lutheran), we have confession of sins every Sunday to confess how we have _not_ lived up to what God requires of us.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry D. Bishop

    Mark @ 24
    Jesus did not tend to think someone’s profession of faith was the best way to judge them. After all, it was the religious leaders of his day that said they had Abraham as their father and Jesus corrected them by saying their father was the devil (Jn 8). Instead, He says to look at someone’s fruit. Again, look at Mt 7:15ff. The problem with a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” is it looks like a sheep. Many wear the label of “Christian” but are not.
    I don’t know what road you think I am going down. However, I agree with the Lutheran doctrine (and biblical truth) of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
    By faith (trust, belief) in Christ and His payment for my sins on the cross I am saved. The Bible says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom. 8:1 This implies that those NOT in Christ are condemned. Do I still sin? yes. But on the whole my life has been radically changed and God’s Spirit has produced fruit in my life. Rom. 6 says people are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. In other words, that is why Christians (true-believers) and non-Christians can be known by what they do. Consider the following:
    1. “Are you saved?” Yes or No. (see Jn 3)
    2. If yes, “Does a Christian still sin?” Yes or No (1Jn 1:8-10)
    3. “Is a Christian called to live a holy life?” Yes or No (1Pet 1:13-16)
    4. “Will a Christian look different than a non-Christian?” Yes or No
    Read all of 1 John for the answer to the last question.
    Please note–I am not calling for any type of works-righteousness. But the biblical witness is that a true Christian will act like one. Does anybody remember the metaphors of sheep/goats, tares/wheat, light/dark?

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry D. Bishop

    Mark @ 24
    Jesus did not tend to think someone’s profession of faith was the best way to judge them. After all, it was the religious leaders of his day that said they had Abraham as their father and Jesus corrected them by saying their father was the devil (Jn 8). Instead, He says to look at someone’s fruit. Again, look at Mt 7:15ff. The problem with a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” is it looks like a sheep. Many wear the label of “Christian” but are not.
    I don’t know what road you think I am going down. However, I agree with the Lutheran doctrine (and biblical truth) of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
    By faith (trust, belief) in Christ and His payment for my sins on the cross I am saved. The Bible says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom. 8:1 This implies that those NOT in Christ are condemned. Do I still sin? yes. But on the whole my life has been radically changed and God’s Spirit has produced fruit in my life. Rom. 6 says people are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. In other words, that is why Christians (true-believers) and non-Christians can be known by what they do. Consider the following:
    1. “Are you saved?” Yes or No. (see Jn 3)
    2. If yes, “Does a Christian still sin?” Yes or No (1Jn 1:8-10)
    3. “Is a Christian called to live a holy life?” Yes or No (1Pet 1:13-16)
    4. “Will a Christian look different than a non-Christian?” Yes or No
    Read all of 1 John for the answer to the last question.
    Please note–I am not calling for any type of works-righteousness. But the biblical witness is that a true Christian will act like one. Does anybody remember the metaphors of sheep/goats, tares/wheat, light/dark?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Barry (@23), you said, “I think it is a great error to assume someone is a Christian first just because they profess to be one.” And maybe that’s true. But if so, I’m sorry. So, when you visit another city and look up a church to visit, you assume that nobody there is a Christian? The pastor, the congregation, they’re all unsaved until proven righteous? It seems like a terrible way to live. Probably doesn’t do a lot for your relationship with other Christians either, I’d assume.

    As Mark noted (@24, and I agree with him), my actions condemn me. Daily. And if you only knew what was going on in my head as well …! (By the way, if you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself, and the truth is not in you. So I kind of have to imagine that your actions, also, routinely condemn you.)

    I have no problem with noting that an action or a belief is contrary to God’s will as expressed in the Bible. Such an assessment will condemn my actions as much as it will the Hutaree. And I am saved, by God’s grace. But you went beyond that. You said, (@18), “They are not Christians.” Frankly, you are wrong to say that.

    If I have not yet convinced you, tell me about the thief on the cross, the one to whom Jesus said he would be in Paradise. Was he saved? Now tell me about his actions, his fruit. What did they look like? I’ll bet a lot of people standing at the foot of the cross found plenty of reason to judge him, as well. They probably laughed when Jesus said he’d go to heaven. But the theif trusted in Jesus, not in his actions. He knew he’d done many terrible things, but that didn’t change his God’s promise.

    Anyhow, yes the Bible is normative for Christianity. Yes, we should instruct and rebuke when people do what is contrary to that (e.g. anti-government militias are wrong). No, that does not mean we get to assume or judge what is in their hearts.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Barry (@23), you said, “I think it is a great error to assume someone is a Christian first just because they profess to be one.” And maybe that’s true. But if so, I’m sorry. So, when you visit another city and look up a church to visit, you assume that nobody there is a Christian? The pastor, the congregation, they’re all unsaved until proven righteous? It seems like a terrible way to live. Probably doesn’t do a lot for your relationship with other Christians either, I’d assume.

    As Mark noted (@24, and I agree with him), my actions condemn me. Daily. And if you only knew what was going on in my head as well …! (By the way, if you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself, and the truth is not in you. So I kind of have to imagine that your actions, also, routinely condemn you.)

    I have no problem with noting that an action or a belief is contrary to God’s will as expressed in the Bible. Such an assessment will condemn my actions as much as it will the Hutaree. And I am saved, by God’s grace. But you went beyond that. You said, (@18), “They are not Christians.” Frankly, you are wrong to say that.

    If I have not yet convinced you, tell me about the thief on the cross, the one to whom Jesus said he would be in Paradise. Was he saved? Now tell me about his actions, his fruit. What did they look like? I’ll bet a lot of people standing at the foot of the cross found plenty of reason to judge him, as well. They probably laughed when Jesus said he’d go to heaven. But the theif trusted in Jesus, not in his actions. He knew he’d done many terrible things, but that didn’t change his God’s promise.

    Anyhow, yes the Bible is normative for Christianity. Yes, we should instruct and rebuke when people do what is contrary to that (e.g. anti-government militias are wrong). No, that does not mean we get to assume or judge what is in their hearts.

  • Kelly

    Why are passages like Matthew 7:15 etc, on recognizing false prophets, automatically extrapolated into one Christian trying to figure out if another is saved on the basis of how good their works appear to them?

    I remember the sheep and the goats. The goats kept a running tally of their works. The sheep couldn’t even remember doing them. Then there’s the tares and wheat. The servants wanted to root out the tares right away, but the master forbade them because they’d be bound to snag the wheat while doing so; they’d both grow up together till the harvest, when they’d be properly sorted at the day of judgment.

    None of this is to make light of the seriousness of unrepentant sin. On the contrary. But we humans, especially when particularly removed from situations, are not always in the best place to figure out what believers are struggling with, what they have asked forgiveness for, and so on.

  • Kelly

    Why are passages like Matthew 7:15 etc, on recognizing false prophets, automatically extrapolated into one Christian trying to figure out if another is saved on the basis of how good their works appear to them?

    I remember the sheep and the goats. The goats kept a running tally of their works. The sheep couldn’t even remember doing them. Then there’s the tares and wheat. The servants wanted to root out the tares right away, but the master forbade them because they’d be bound to snag the wheat while doing so; they’d both grow up together till the harvest, when they’d be properly sorted at the day of judgment.

    None of this is to make light of the seriousness of unrepentant sin. On the contrary. But we humans, especially when particularly removed from situations, are not always in the best place to figure out what believers are struggling with, what they have asked forgiveness for, and so on.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry D. Bishop

    Todd and Kelly, once again thanks for the questions but I still feel that either I am not communicating well and/or you do not understand me.
    Are you declaring that you do know that the Hutaree are definitely Christians? Or that we can’t know whether anyone is a Christian so I was wrong in saying they weren’t?
    Are you saying that because you sin and you are a Christian that all others who sin can’t be counted out as Christians? This is ridiculous.
    Salvation is one thing. Cheap grace is another.
    You make no distinction between the lives of Christians and non-believers when the Bible makes a distinction again and again.
    Were the Crusaders Christian? I can say “no” based on their actions. Were there some small minority among the Crusaders who were not trying to earn their way to heaven by wielding the papal sword? Probably–there was probably some true-believers among the thousands. But why jump to the exception? You attack me for declaring that the Hutaree (who planned to murder police) are not Christians.
    Neither of you addressed the scriptures I provided. Yes, the Bible calls us to holy living AFTER we are saved/justified/forgiven. Do we still sin? Yes, but there is an eternal difference between the already saved believer who weekly confesses his sins and the unrepentant religious person on his way to hell. By the way, the unrepentant need to hear the Word of God so that they might repent. That I was I take the time to post scripture on this blog even though experience has taught me it will result in scorn. I don’t want to assure someone they are a Christian b/c they profess to be.
    The thief on the cross recognized his own sin and put his trust in the Lordship of Jesus (“remember me in your kingdom”). This is the evidence of his salvation. He was saved by faith.
    Had he lived past the cross this thief would have sinned again. However, we would expect his life to change just like the other disciples that left everything to follow Jesus.
    Or perhaps in America you can be a “Christian” in spite of what you wear, say, believe, do, think, and act.
    “When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.”-Bonhoeffer

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry D. Bishop

    Todd and Kelly, once again thanks for the questions but I still feel that either I am not communicating well and/or you do not understand me.
    Are you declaring that you do know that the Hutaree are definitely Christians? Or that we can’t know whether anyone is a Christian so I was wrong in saying they weren’t?
    Are you saying that because you sin and you are a Christian that all others who sin can’t be counted out as Christians? This is ridiculous.
    Salvation is one thing. Cheap grace is another.
    You make no distinction between the lives of Christians and non-believers when the Bible makes a distinction again and again.
    Were the Crusaders Christian? I can say “no” based on their actions. Were there some small minority among the Crusaders who were not trying to earn their way to heaven by wielding the papal sword? Probably–there was probably some true-believers among the thousands. But why jump to the exception? You attack me for declaring that the Hutaree (who planned to murder police) are not Christians.
    Neither of you addressed the scriptures I provided. Yes, the Bible calls us to holy living AFTER we are saved/justified/forgiven. Do we still sin? Yes, but there is an eternal difference between the already saved believer who weekly confesses his sins and the unrepentant religious person on his way to hell. By the way, the unrepentant need to hear the Word of God so that they might repent. That I was I take the time to post scripture on this blog even though experience has taught me it will result in scorn. I don’t want to assure someone they are a Christian b/c they profess to be.
    The thief on the cross recognized his own sin and put his trust in the Lordship of Jesus (“remember me in your kingdom”). This is the evidence of his salvation. He was saved by faith.
    Had he lived past the cross this thief would have sinned again. However, we would expect his life to change just like the other disciples that left everything to follow Jesus.
    Or perhaps in America you can be a “Christian” in spite of what you wear, say, believe, do, think, and act.
    “When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.”-Bonhoeffer


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