Is the Indictment of Glen Casada a ‘Severe Mercy’?

Aug 26, 2022 by David Fowler

Is the Indictment of Glen Casada a ‘Severe Mercy’?
The indictment of former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada is painful to me because he has been a friend for two decades and was a legislative colleague. Were Glen not a public figure, I might say nothing, but he is not. For the following reasons, I see his indictment as a “severe mercy” that should be instructive for all with eyes to see and ears to hear.
I could take the concept of a “severe mercy” from any number of stories in the Bible, but for present purposes I will turn to the words of God recorded by Moses in Genesis 12:10, “Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land” (emphasis added). I use this because of another “severe famine” story in Genesis 41:57 relative to Jacob, Joseph, and Egypt integral to the revelation of who God is.
Christians know “severe” situations in the Old Testament are encompassed in the providential ordering of all things by God in order that the eventual revelation of mystery of God in the Incarnation of the God-Man, Jesus, would be historically contextualized and confirmed (John 12:16).  
But I grew up thinking of them in terms of pure cause and effect—this happened which caused this to happen which caused the next thing to happen until Jesus. Then, history, such as it was and as it thereafter pertained to the Christianity and any cultural progress, sort of stopped as best I could understand what I was taught; now, so it went, "history" is a matter of waiting for Jesus to rapture the church or die and go to Heaven.
But severe mercies in the Old Testament are not just matters of chronology but, when read carefully, revelation (1 Corinthians 10:11). That the events of the Old Testament are too often seen as mere chain-of-causation-facts is an indication of the degree to which evolutionary thinking has come to dominate evangelicalism.

God’s Purpose for Severe Mercies.

By severe mercies God intends[i] to reveal His glory to the people and the nations. 
But is such severity an ego trip of cosmic proportions? No. Rather, it is God’s purpose that those made in the image of this glorious God would, like Nebuchadnezzar when his sanity returned, look up to the Heavens God has made and perfectly ordered and know how far they fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23) by the degree of chaos being experienced in themselves and around them.
A severe mercy is one God uses that those with eyes to see and ears to hear that they might finally recognize their need for mercy and for a grace they do not possess by which that glorious image can be restored.

Application to Events in History

Unlike those who judge Christians for making judgments by using their own non-objective and, therefore, arbitrary standards of judgment, Christians know they cannot do that. 
Christians are called to make objective judgments about historical events considering the Word of God. Christians also understand that a test of whether their judgments are righteous and just is the degree to which they conform to the examples given in Scripture of God’s judgments. His alone are perfectly righteous and just.

Application to Glen Casada and Every Individual

Glen is my friend, and for that reason, when he was Speaker and before things unraveled, I spoke to him about the lure of authority and influence. 

That is true for all of us—husbands, parents, employers, supervisors, principals and teachers, and the list goes on—not just those in political office. My pride before God has been brought low on several occasions. 
Those who forget the source from which authority and power are ultimately derived and seek to arrogate to themselves authority and power beyond that which God has authorized (either by creation or through constitutions and laws) and do so to lord it over others misunderstand who God is and the nature of how God’s world works. 
But to return to politics, at some point, God, in his mercy, provides some of those in positions of power in civil government an opportunity to reconsider their view of reality even as He did Nebuchadnezzar.[ii] Some repent but others eventually have their pride swallowed up by those whose pride is even bigger, like the federal government that oozes pride at every level. God will have to bring it down too.

Application to Christianity

When power in civil government becomes tyrannical, it is a sign that the church has lost its way. 
And when that tyranny is not resisted by the church, the church fails to honor its King, who wants His people to understand that He has authority over all He created, and He intends to use them to direct all things to the end that He intends. The church is guilty of that failure.  
The response of some churches to COVID mandates was the beginning of a resistance, but as with all pietism, for most clergy and church leaders the resistance was limited to ecclesiastically organized gatherings. Few had anything to say about civil government tyranny beyond meetings within its walled fortresses. 
In fact, most that I have spoken to over the last six years seem to be fine with the United States Supreme Court and Tennessee state government officials doing nothing after the Court purported to redefine marriage in our law exclusively and exhaustively a relationship between any two people. Think about it: There is no “heterosexual couples only” form of state marriage license or certificate of marriage.
How could the church, taken as a whole, be okay with that? 
I think what is going on in civil government, exposed by how Casada abused his power as speaker and later misrepresented what he was doing to get around state law applicable to him as an elected official for the sake of money, is a severe mercy given not just to him, but to the church. 
Is it possible the church’s acceptance of a tyrannical civil government, particularly as it relates to marriage given its creational, soteriological, and eschatological importance, comes from a famine more severe than any Abraham or the descendants of Jacob faced:
Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it. In that day the fair virgins and strong young men shall faint from thirst.  (Amos 8:11)
I believe Christians need to repent for not having heard the word of God—that He alone is King—and, as a consequence, for having allowed civil government and its leaders think they can be as gods, particularly when it comes to what it means to be male and female in the context of marriage. 
That includes me, and that is why I am writing so forthrightly. For me to withhold the Word of God on which everyone is to feed if they are to know what life truly is (Matthew 4:4; John 6:41-58) and to do so in a day of famine is wicked.
For those who want to know if there is anything they can do as a tangible expression of repentance, you can go here.
[i] This is not to ascribe evil to God, but the sovereignty logically attending the very nature of His being. Creation, redemption, and eschatology are of a piece and intentional acts of God. Consider Proverbs 16:4 and Romans 9:17 for examples of God’s intentionality in all things. The nature of God and maintaining the Biblical distinction between God and creation is critical to avoiding a “flat earth” view of causation and its consequent, evolutionary thinking.

[ii] Some God simply “gives over” (see Romans 1:24, 26, 28; Jeremiah 7:16, 11:14, 14:11) and for them no mercy remains, only judgment and justice.  This is a “fearful thing” (Hebrews 10:31).

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006.

Subscribe to Email Updates


Donate to FACT

Make a Donation