Image courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse
Ann Coulter makes her position clear in the title of her article: “EBOLA DOC’S CONDITION DOWNGRADED TO ‘IDIOTIC’”. She ponders how Dr. Kent Brantly, whom she gives the moniker “the Ebola doctor” feels now that his trip to Liberia and subsequent care since contracting Ebola cost so much.
I don’t know if Coulter was simply trying to make a point by overshooting the mark, or if she really believes, as a Christian, that Dr. Brantly’s efforts in Liberia were wasted. It doesn’t matter though. What Coulter wrote is irrelevant.
Her point is, in her own words, “can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?” Erick Erickson answered Coulter, without malice or outrage, in his Redstate post “Can Christ Not Spare One Man?” In this, Erick summed up our mission as Christians,
But Dr. Brantly, as do we all, goes where the Holy Spirit leads. I don’t think we should be in the business of questioning the motives or direction of any Christian led by the Lord to any corner of the Earth — particularly when the missionary is prepared to lay down his life for a stranger merely because Christ said, “Go ye therefore . . .”.
Erick quoted Matthew 24:14. I think John 15:13 is also appropriate, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Dr. Brantly was fully prepared to lay down his life for the Liberians. Any why not? Liberia is a shining example of the power of God, where a vicious, brutal warlord who called himself General Butt Naked is now spreading the Gospel.
Liberia is a place that was torn by gang violence in a way and with an intensity beyond what Americans ever see, even in our most gore-soaked movies. Children wearing Jason-style Halloween masks were encouraged to kill and even eat human hearts. Now the Gospel is moving in Liberia and churches are growing and turning the country around.
Ebola is an evil disease, but God can call the humble anywhere in the world to serve His purpose.
Ann Coulter asks “what’s the point?”. This question exposes more about American Christianity than any attempt at an answer. For if a person of Coulter’s quality and caliber must ask the question, then surely we’ve all missed the point.
Here’s a different question: “why would any Christian seek to stay in America versus going where God is moving?”
America has more “Christianity” (in quotes) than any other country on earth. We have Gospel, 24/7. There are over 1,000 Christian radio stations, an entire format dedicated to serving Christians and spreading the Gospel, in the U.S. American Family Radio owns 159 stations, K-LOVE has 237, Moody has 293 affiliates. Salem (the owner of Redstate) owns 108, and Family Life Radio operates 38 stations.
There’s Christian TV and satellite networks, Christian Satellite Network, Daystar, Glorystar, Sky Angel, and the granddaddy of them all, Trinity Broadcasting Network. You can watch preaching, wall-to-wall, all day, all night, and fill your DVR with thousands of hours of preaching. But to what end? Where is the Gospel in the United States?
Coulter wrote a book titled Godless: The Church of Liberalism, which was a bestseller back in 2007. In it, she makes the point that liberal opinion amounts to a religious faith. It stands to reason that if the Christian faith is true, which Coulter believes, as I do, then it should stand toe to toe against other world views and expose its truth. But this is not, and has never been, the case in rich, developed countries.
Jesus spoke to John the Revelator in Revelation 3:
Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.
Jesus also said to His disciples in Matthew 19:
Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
America is rich. America is powerful, and the Gospel is poured out on our society in great quantity. Yet it has little effect. There is no power, there is little to show for Christ’s glory here in America.
Jesus continues in Matthew 19:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Coulter chided Dr. Brantly for doing exactly what Christ commanded.
Right there in Texas, near where Dr. Brantly left his wife and children to fly to Liberia and get Ebola, is one of the poorest counties in the nation, Zavala County — where he wouldn’t have risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.
And there’s where she, and we, miss the point. With God, all things are possible. All things doesn’t mean just the things we want to do, or the things that are in our little box of experience, or the things we think are safe, or the things we think make sense. All things means all things, as in everything God desires is possible, by definition.
God wanted a doctor in Liberia, where miracle after miracle is reported, and God’s love is poured out on the tenderest, poorest, most disease-ridden people there. But those people receive the Gospel eagerly, and turn their lives, and their nation, around from the brink of hell. Surely the gates of Hell cannot stand against the Church. Dr. Brantly answered the call and went, and yes, there was risk.
American Christians sit on our behinds, writing blog posts (yes, that’s me too), writing checks, lamenting that this country is becoming more and more Godless, while Africans send their church leaders to the U.S. to try to warn us and repair our fallen denominations like the Episcopal Church. What’s wrong with this picture?
Like Erick Erickson, I also fund missionaries. A midwestern redneck with a red beard living in a 99% Muslim country and preaching in jungles. A young couple raising their new baby in a war-torn 97% Muslim nation. A project to build 100 churches and Bible schools in an African country. A Bible college in Brazil. These are the places God is moving. Sometimes I think about going to those places, and I should go.
I used to think, like Coulter, that American Christians going to other countries for short stints was a form of “missionary tourism” where rich Americans could feel better by helping people in poor countries. I was wrong. This is not missionary tourism, it’s a peek at God’s heart.
Coulter’s statement “America is the most consequential nation on Earth, and in desperate need of God at the moment. If America falls, it will be a thousand years of darkness for the entire planet” is the quintessential example of American pride and lukewarmness. God is not American. God is not Republican. God is not conservative, Tea-Party, Libertarian, or Democrat.
God is King, Sovereign, Creator, and Supreme. He has no need of money, nor does he care about the $2 million it took to bring Dr. Brantly to Atlanta for treatment. It’s nothing to God. God cares more about the $1 that a Liberian puts in the offering at a roofless church because that represents the man’s entire monthly income, than all the money rich Americans donate to worthy organizations like Samaritan’s Purse (how do I know? Jesus said so in Mark chapter 12 and Luke chapter 21, read it).
Why would any American Christian want to stay in our lukewarm, overexposed, undervalued Gospel versus going where God is doing miracles?
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:3-5
This describes America as much as any place on earth. Sure, there’s evil in other places, but our deaf ears, rich lifestyle, and powerless godliness make ours especially hard to fight. Maybe we should all be more like Dr. Brantly, and listen to God’s call, take a few risks, and trust Him. People in countries like Nigeria, where confessing Christ can cost your life at the hands of Boko Haram, or Syria, where it can get you crucified by ISIS, or Iran, where you can spend years in a rat-infested prison, or Sudan, where you can be put to death, these are the ones who gain treasure in heaven.
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:34-38
Ann Coulter, and all of American Christianity, should not condemn or chide Dr. Kent Brantly, we should praise and support him. It’s men like him, servants, of whom the world is not worthy, who move God’s heart.
I have nothing against Ann Coulter. I’ve never met her, but I’ve been a fan and read her books. But I’d rather be like Kent Brantly. God bless him, and I believe He already has.