Friday, March 1, 2013

The Spiritual War between North and South

Many a historian has written a book about the actual physical battles of the Civil War in which they have theorized the political, cultural, and ideological reasons for that dreaded conflict. But very few, if any, have ever pointed out the spiritual battle which lead to that confrontation.  But without understanding the spiritual aspect of what lead to that bloody hostility, one can never truly understand what that national political feud was all about.
The truth is the North and the South had to very different religions and two different methods of interpreting the scriptures. Even Abe Lincoln asked, "How could such a travesty ensue when both sides read the same Bible?"  (I paraphrase, so this is not a direct quote).  The answer is that they did not read it the same way.  The South took a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, while the North "spiritualized" the Bible, and believed it was metaphorical, not literal.  This eventually lead to division not only in the country, but first in the Churches within the nation itself.
The North had a majority of Churches which were either Universalist, Unitarian, or Catholic.  The Southern majority of Churches were either Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Episcopalian.
To understand the views of the Northerners vs. the Southerners, one must understand the teachings of these various sects.  For it was quite often the Ministers on both sides which preached either against or in favor of slavery, state's rights, and secession.
Preachers on either side were fervent in their preaching, and passionate about what they believed.  Even to the point of becoming rabid, indignant, and even willing to fight and die for their cause.  And both sides truly believed God was on their side. But which side was right? 
The answer is easy to find by looking at their doctrine and their fruit. Unitarians believed that Jesus was not God.  (Clearly an anti-biblical teaching).  They further believed that man was inherently good and not evil, and thus had no reason for a Saviour.  They finally taught then when a man did sin, that self-sacrifice and good works were the only way to appease the wrath of God, and secure pardon of their sins.  Catholics also taught this doctrine of "working one's way to heaven."  Finally, Universalists believed in the unifying nature of their cause, and desired others to join their ranks for the purpose of championing a cause in which people could rally together.  They believed in preaching "issues" to support, rather than preaching doctrine from the Bible.
These three main Northern religions worked together in harmony to form radical groups of anti-slavery minions who eventually called themselves "Abolitionists."  However, they not only didn't believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, they further refused to accept and follow his teachings.  They were, therefore, not truly Christians, accepting only the term Christian while denying the person who started Christianity.   
The focus, then, of these radical religionists was on building an earthly kingdom, rather than focusing on the eternal destiny of man's soul.  And because of this, many of them turned towards politics, rather than the preaching of the Gospel.  And many of them turned towards physical means to right what they viewed as a great wrong in the eyes of God--Slavery!
Yet, their methods proved they were not Christians.  One of their biggest supporters, John Brown, was a "Minister."  (I use the term lightly, as a true minister would never be a murderer as he was).  Yet he used physical force and even death to forward his kingdom, something Jesus would never condone!  The well-known saying eloquently portrays such religious zealots, when it states: "Kingdom builders are bloody killers!"
Contrast this with the Southern people and their religious and doctrinal views, many of which were either Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Episcopalian.   Although these denominations differ greatly, they all had one thing in common.  They believed all men were Sinners who were inherently evil, and they needed a Saviour to forgive them their sins, as they could not save themselves.  And although some of them had been snared into unbelief by the teachings of German Rationalism, the majority of them and their ministers believed in a literal reading and teachings of scripture.  They further believed in the deity of Jesus Christ, and viewed Northern religious instruction to the contrary as not only apostate and dangerous but outright blasphemous and satanic in origin.  Thus, they viewed the North as a great breeding ground for Satan's ever-increasing kingdom of evil, deception, mistrust, and even hatred and hostility.
Southern Ministers viewed slavery as not only acceptable, but Biblical.  And they had verses to prove it.  Some would run to Leviticus 25:44-46, which states:
44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.  45  Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.  46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.
But these verses spoke to Israel, and did not apply to them.  Thus, others read the words of the Apostle Paul (that do apply to CHRISTIANS in the Church age), dogmatically stressing the LITERAL application of that passage to them, their servants, and to the Northerners who had no business trying to tell them how to live their lives.  From 1 Timothy 6:1-5 we read:
1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.  2  And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.  3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
Taking this passage literally, most Southerners believed that the abolitionists were "blasphemers," and "apostates" preaching a doctrine contrary to the scriptures, and were "perverse" and "corrupt" and "evil" in their attempts at causing "strife."  Thus, to a Southerner, a war against slavery was a war against God himself and what he taught in the scriptures.
Although God didn't institute slavery, it cannot be denied that he did allow it and wrote verses in the Bible of how Christian masters should treat their slaves.  (Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 4:1 are other examples of Biblical passages addressed to slaves and their masters).
Northerners, therefore, turned their attention from the scriptures towards tales of "mistreatment" by Slave owners against their slaves and tried to demonize Southerners, claiming they were all evil men who beat and whipped their slaves and raped their women servants on a regular basis.  But as Christian gentlemen the majority of Southerners never practiced such horrible atrocities.  Many even went to Church with their slaves and treated them with honor and respect.  And even though some atrocities did happen by bad Slave owners (who most of the time weren't even Christians themselves), they were very few and far between.  And they were often dealt with by the law and/or Christian Ministers who preached against such conduct. 
Yet the North succeeded in their propaganda and demonization of the South, and books like "Uncle Tom's Cabin" fueled the fires of outrage in the North. 
Satan loved the division he had spawned with the liberal mindset in the North and their hatred toward Southern Bible-believing and Bible-practicing Christians.  And he continued to preach hate toward the Southern people, stereotyping them, and lumping them all into the same basket as inhumane mongrels who abused their fellow human beings.
Because of such constant belittlement and disdain from the North toward the South, many Southerners sought succession, yearning to be free from those who lived only to deride, slander, and attack their character, beliefs, and culture.  But the North would not let up.  Believing they were righteous and the South was evil, Northern politicians began to justify their hatred and disdain against the South.  This eventually lead to their unanimous belief that God himself had called them to punish the South for what they viewed as wrong doing.  And far before an army was called physically for that intended purpose, the Northern Politicians sought to debilitate the South economically.  For this end they instituted the Morrill Tariff, which was nothing more than a TAX upon the South of up to 47% of their revenue. 
Outraged, by such an action, Southerners despised the Yankees in the North even more, and rightfully so, for not even a generation before, they had fought a War for Independence over that very same issue.  That is what gave birth to the United States.  It was all because of a nationwide contempt towards "Taxation without Representation." 
Eventually, the South seceded from the Union, and it was mostly because Abraham Lincoln said if elected his priority in office would be to COLLECT the Morrill Tariff from the South.  And that's exactly what he tried to do when he sent Federal ships to Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor.  These ships were full of not only soldiers but Federal Tax Collectors who were to collect the Morrill Tariff with the help of the soldiers. (What?  You never heard this story?  Could it be because the radical abolitionists rewrote history?)
We all know what happened.  War ensued.  But what the war was about depends upon what you know, (or better stated what you've been taught) about history.  If you believe the modern teaching, then you believe the war was started by the South when they fired upon Ft. Sumter.  But if you look at it from the viewpoint of a Southerner, you see it for what it really was -- A second War of Independence.
Some call it to this very day by the deceptive term of the "Civil War."  But it was anything but civil.  In fact, it was atrocious!  It was not about slavery, even though that played a key in justifying the war in Northern propaganda.  Nay, it was rather about Southerners being left alone and being free from Northern taxation, Northern religious hatred, and Federal occupation.  In short, the best way to label that war would be to call it what it really was -- A War of Northern Aggression.
But way before it was a physical war, it was a spiritual battle.  The North began their crusade against Southern Christians and Southern Biblical doctrines many years before by attacking the deity of Christ, man's need for a Saviour, the Biblical mandates of God towards slaves and their masters, and much more.  
Oh how Satan must have savoured the widespread hatred he instilled in Northern hearts and gloried in the savage bloodshed it produced as the ground was littered with the dead bodies of Christian soldiers from each side! (And yes, there were some true Christians in the North.  And they fought without malice, rather only doing what they felt was their duty in the Northern Army).  
But the joke was on the Devil, for during the Civil War something happened, that is very seldom mentioned to this very day.  During the physical skirmish and amidst the ghastly slaughter and bloodshed, God upon his throne in heaven smiled as a spiritual fight took place in the hearts of men.  And during the Civil War (better called the "Un-Civil War") in which the depravity of man was unleashed on a tremendous scale, God, the Holy Spirit, went forth convicting the souls of men with a mighty power.  For during that war there was probably the greatest revival the United States has ever known, greater than even the first and second "Great Awakening" in the 1700's.  And during that conflict the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached everywhere by godly ministers, Honorable Generals, lowly privates, and even starving slaves.  Spiritual campaigns and revivals broke out in towns, cities, villages, and even within the armies themselves on both sides.  Men like D.L. Moody preached with such a furor that men cried and accepted Jesus as their Saviour by the thousands. The Gospel drenched the land deeper than the stain of the blood of the fallen.  There are countless stories of men laying bleeding and dying on the battlefield, where one soldier begins singing "Amazing Grace" and then soldiers on both sides joined in.  Witnesses tell us the singing of hymns were so loud by dying soldiers that it sounded like an angelic host of heaven had descended upon the earth.
It was the Christianity of the SOUTH which spread abroad and blessed the hearts of men, pointing them to Christ crucified, and not the religion of the North which sought only destruction, ruin,  devastation, recompense, and chastizement. 
Even to this very day the fruit of Southern Christianity is known world-wide, and has been given a term which endures to this very day -- "Southern Hospitality."
Yes, even though the battle was won by the North politically.   And they are remembered as the physical Victors, the truth is a spiritual battle brewed for the souls of men, and many were turned to the grace and knowledge of God's wonderful salvation during such a terrible and dismal time.
Only heaven will reveal how many people came to Jesus during that dreadful and appalling awful conflict.  But the war did not end there.  After the forced re-union of the Southern states with the North, the Gospel was carried up into the land of the "apostate yankees" by countless soldiers, and even many chaplains and ministers who journeyed there after the war.   They preached the Gospel message in the army of the Lord using the sword of the scripture with as much courage and determination as they fought with a rifle in their respective national armies.  They were true soldiers of the cross! 
Not only that, many went westward with the Gospel, preaching to Sinners in saloons, ranches, mining towns, cattle prairies, coastal towns, and schools.  And their ranks swelled by leaps and bounds, as the true Gospel of Jesus Christ spread throughout the country, emboldened by the great revivals of the Civil War, and more people converted to true Christianity. 
Today seldom is heard of a "universalist" or a "unitarian."  But the entire country has heard of the words: Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, and Presbyterian.   These denominations have endured to this very day, while the hateful Northern religions have proven themselves spiritually fruitless.  (*Note:  Many of these denominations today are now in complete apostasy.  Truly we are in the last days as the Bible prophesied.  But the fact that they still exist prove that after that great and awful Federal war against the South, God himself fought and won a spiritual battle and his truth prevailed and covered the country from sea to shining sea).   
Let us therefore always remember the cost of War.  Many died, and sadly many went to Hell because they were unsaved.  But thankfully amidst a horrible, bloody, and ghastly war, a spiritual seed was planted in the hearts of men and even in the entire country.  Those saved went to a much better place, and are there today.  Many of their descendents preached to others of the same hope they had in Jesus.  And the Gospel spread to every corner of the nation. 
Many today remember only the PHYSICAL War of 1861-1865.  I hope this small article will help to illustrate the SPIRITUAL battle that took place at the same time.  It was not to build a kingdom on earth, rather to fill a kingdom in heaven with the souls of men.   

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