Ever since the assault on and the collapse of the gates of Eden, chaos presses in on the walls and gates of borderlands, and, like Eden, when the boundaries cave, chaos surges through.
“We are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on September 20, 2022.
A congressional committee is now investigating what some call a siege on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
“I can just remember my breath catching in my throat because what I saw was like a war scene … I couldn’t believe my eyes … while looking at the chaos and carnage at the riot scene,” recalled U.S. Capitol officer Caroline Edwards
Chaos and carnage … Those words take me back some 50 years to April 30, 1971.
On that Friday, the assistant attorney general for internal security at the U.S. Department of Justice received an urgent call from the Capitol Hill office of Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen. The Bentsen aide had learned of frightening plans being laid by people massing in Washington to protest the Vietnam War. Their aim was to shut down the federal government on the following Monday, May 3.
Bentsen’s aide was so concerned he contacted the Department of Justice. The assistant AG immediately dispatched a member of his team to Bentsen’s office to debrief the young couple who had given the information to Bentsen’s assistant.
What they told chilled the aide.
The Mayday leaders planned to roll flaming drums of oil into Washington traffic circles at rush hour, incinerating “bureaucrats” and the innocent trapped in their cars.
Other rioters were leasing big trucks to transport boulders to be rolled down on the traffic-stalled parkways and crushing the people inside whom the riot planners assumed would be mostly government lackies who facilitated American involvement in Vietnam. Again, the innocent would also die.
Thankfully the assistant attorney general received the information in time to thwart the deadly assault on Washington.
So, on that May morning in 1971, I and other commuters crossing the Potomac had the eerie experience of seeing squads of soldiers lined up across the bridges leading into Washington from Virginia and Maryland suburbs, guns across their chests, and each standing battle-ready, about eight feet apart.
There were scattered protests throughout the city that morning, but the horror of slaughter and the shutdown of the nation’s government were averted.
Sadly, death was not averted on January 6, 2021, or on July 24, 1998, when two Capitol officers went down as gunman Russell Eugene Weston Jr., blasting away, headed down a corridor leading to the office of House majority whip Tom Delay.
Delay later described the chaos to me as we worked together on a book, Revival Revolution, Rebirth.
The feisty congressman from Texas would grieve for his personal security guard, John Gibson, who died in the attack, along with Capitol officer Jacob Chestnut.
Years later, after his retirement from Congress, Tom reflected spiritually on that tragedy as we talked. “I still think of the incident as I think about America … the anarchic intruder in the Capitol is like the destructive philosophies and worldviews that have assaulted the nation … As the gunman assaulted the building at the core of our government, marauders of a different sort have surged against America’s biblical and constitutional core.”
Midst our present madness, we must consider all spiritual implications. The assaults on the Capitol do indeed constitute a parable. Spiritual assaults behind human actions must be dealt with above all by spiritual means. First, we must recognize that our enemies ultimately are not “flesh and blood” but “the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). These powers of darkness cluster at centers of human power because the fundamental temptation is to seize power.
As Saint John saw in the Revelation vision, chapter twelve, the “great dragon” with all its passion for power — focused ultimately on the very Throne of God — has been thrown down to earth (See also Isaiah 14).
Thus, the fundamental warfare in the fallen world is the struggle between chaos and cosmos, evil and good, darkness and light.
The great edifices that house the “seats of government” rise over national and international landscapes, bulky targets for hellish warriors. This is why governments and their power centers are under continual spiritual assault: Chaos presses in against the walls and gates of civilizations, nations, cities, families, and even the nature of humanity.
Why should we be surprised? We now live in the age of exponential advances in good things, like medical procedures, but also exponential advances of the corruptions that flourish when the “great dragon” is cast down to earth, and “anarchy is loosed upon the world” (W.B. Yeats).
And in that world, there is no “throne” more vulnerable than the human heart. It is the “seat” eagerly targeted by the powers of darkness.
To understand, we must consider Adam and Eve in the Garden. Those origins of our present madness will be the focus of Part Two of this series.
Part Three examines the boundaries that have been assaulted across history and continue to be blitzed in our age.
Part Four focuses on “push-back,” how we can resist the chaos that presses in on us.
Part Five surveys the prime agencies of “pushback.”
Meanwhile, the boundary battles rage. They call for new vision for churches and other potential agencies of resistance in our present madness.
Wallace B. Henley is a former pastor, daily newspaper editor, White House and Congressional aide. He served 18 years as a teaching pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church. Henley is author or co-author of more than 25 books, including God and Churchill, co-authored with Sir Winston Churchill's great grandson, Jonathan Sandys. Henley's latest book is Who will rule the coming 'gods'? The looming spiritual crisis of artificial intelligence.