Stand Down

In our politics recently there has been much talk of unity. Joe Biden, the newly installed Democratic president, stated that his mission is to unify the country after a level of divisiveness we as a nation have never seen before.[1] Republicans too have made their own calls for unity, believing that to litigate the horrors of the recent past would only further divide our country. I would never call on our government to use the Bible as an example for how to achieve unity as I do not believe that should be the role of the Bible and religion in our politics. But the Bible can be uniquely instructive here. The political divisiveness of our current moment is mirrored in the Christian church at large in America, and by extension the Adventist Church itself. In this very forum we debated the usefulness of the Trump administration for Christians. Trump courted Evangelical Christians explicitly, and they responded in record numbers. He was the President for a certain segment of Christianity, and some Adventists would proudly count themselves in this group. What the storming of the Capitol made clear was that the unruly mob was not just the fringe of Trump’s misguided movement. Many of those rioters were a part of his center, and as such the center of the Republican Party. And for some of those rioters the battle flag of choice was a Christian flag. Therefore, there is a need for unity in Christianity, and in Adventism. In those sectors the counsel of the Bible should hold sway.

The oft-cited biblical example of unity from division is the story of the Jerusalem Council, told in Acts 15. The fledging church argued over what law and traditions the Gentiles had to observe to be counted among their number. There are several lessons that we as followers of Christ could take from these events. Scholars throughout the ages focus (and rightly so) on the social and cultural dynamics, the flexibility of the apostles, and continue to question what that event means for keeping the law today. There is, however, a lesson implicitly stated in the text that is important for us in this moment as we seek to reunify as believers under the banner of Christ. Although it was Paul and Barnabas who went to the Jerusalem Council to argue on behalf of different rules for the Gentiles, the recount of the council debate contains no specific quotes from either of the two men. Instead it was Peter and James who stood up, took responsibility for what went wrong, and advocated for the necessary compromise. In order for unity to occur, those who are wrong must be able to admit that they were so, take responsibility for what occurred and concede. This is true even if they themselves did not take part in the wrongdoing – after all, neither Peter nor James were the ones who went down to the Gentiles and told them they had to be circumcised.[2]

I believe the same must be true for unity to exist in the church today, no matter what the situation. For almost five decades we allowed the power and influence of secular politics to infect and infest this family. The infection did not start with Trump, it just spread under him and boiled up to the surface. Trump was the logical conclusion of decisions made long ago, and we fell victim to those decisions and allowed the ramifications to harm the body of Christ and the sharing of His gospel. There is a need for unity and there is a need for peace. But not the type of negative unity that stifles dissent, or the type of negative peace that leaves the oppressed without justice.[3] In order for real peace or unity to occur, those who found themselves on the wrong side, for whatever reason, must accept responsibility for the division and help find a pathway to peace. In a moment such as the one we occupy now it will be important for us to stand against those who refuse to take responsibility for the bad actions done in their name. Far be it for me to decide for you what all of that means, but consider this – Peter and James did not have signs as obvious as riots and death to let them know that the responsibility for unity fell to them.


[1] Now certainly I would argue that the Civil War reached this same level and surpassed it. But the divisiveness we saw that caused the storming of the US Capitol this month was unique. Even in the Civil War the Confederacy never marched on Washington.

[2] This was the problem that precipitated the council meeting. Acts 15:1.

[3] While peace is not the main thrust of this piece, I could not help but make the connection between this issue of unity and the difference between negative and positive peace that Dr. Martin Luther King outlined in his book, Why We Can’t Wait.


Jason Hines is a former attorney with a doctorate in Religion, Politics, and Society from the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He is also an assistant professor at AdventHealth University. He blogs about religious liberty and other issues at

Previous Spectrum columns by Jason Hines can be found at: 

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I do, Jason.

Jason, on his site, not one of your liberal friends has taken responsibility, or apologized for the riots this last summer. Billions of dollars of property destroyed, people killed. Those cities that were destroyed will become like Ferguson, MO, years in the rebuilding if they ever do. Chicago was looted three times! I tried to call them out, but they just ignored it.

And you made no objection.

When Trump was elected, the left carried signs that read, “Not Our President”. His presidency was dogged by constant harassment by the left. The press showed itself the prejudiced group it was.

I do not support the riot in Washington, and not afraid to say so, but for you to stand in arrogant judgment of Republicans when you did not distance yourself from the rioters this summer is just to show hypocrisy, and a double standard.

Will you stand and confess the sins of your side? Will you take the beam out of your own eye before working on the mote in your brothers’?

If not, you have no right to criticize.


Jason doesn’t take responsibility because he and to my knowledge no one else has advocated or voiced support for violence as you say in this forum. This in spite of the fact that many have and continue to condemn violence.

You on the other hand persist in making false accusations and continue to treat your brothers as enemies because they don’t match your political views. I have yet to see you produce evidence that people like Jason or others in this forum have recorded comments that support your accusations.


A troll will always be a troll. Can a leopard change its spots?

Jason spoke true words, much to think about.


It is the height of hypocrisy for the leader of the left to call for unity while other members of his party have used their majority to childishly add insult to injury by impeaching Trump after he had already been defeated at the poles and had vacated his former office.
Particularly given that Ms. Pelosi, et. als., stated unequivocally, and without providing one shred of evidence, that the 2016 election was a fraud and after seeing how she, her colleagues, and leftist sycophants in the press have spent the last four years frothing over those results and trying to delegitimize presidential authority.
I am not an Adventist and didn’t vote for Trump, Clinton or Biden but I cannot see how this potentially unconstitutional “venting” does anything to reduce the amount of political vitriol in the US and find this to be a further undermining of the American People’s trust in their government and societal institutions, in general.


I think the writer of the article is the “Troll” here.
If you are going to support, with tax payers money, state sponsored murder, vote for the party that holds this policy on their masthead.


Hallelujah!!! I couldn’t say it better myself!! Thank you Bruce;-)


If Jason did not support violence, as you say, and I have not supported violence either, which I do not, why then does he say I need to, being on the wrong side, accept responsibility?

If I am responsible for the violence, and yet had nothing to do with it, why do I need to apologize for anything?

I don’t think anyone here supported the riots during the Summer. At least as far as I can tell. But they’re perpetrated by the left. You took no responsibility for them.

I did not support the riots at the capital. I am very sorry they happened. But I am not responsible.

So why is Jason so bold as to demand that I stand and take responsibility, when he took none for the rioters in Minneapolis? It’s just a double standard. And if he thinks that he is promoting unity by such a stance, he is sadly mistaken. Unity is helped by understanding one another, rather than calling one another out for something they had nothing to do with.


Jason spoke divisive words. You are on the left, do you really know how someone on the right might think about Jason’s words? I can tell you, being on the right, they are divisive. Better would be to say, “We have all made mistakes here, right and left, let’s see if we can work it out.” When Trump was elected, the left went on resistance mode. They said up front that there would be no cooperation. So why should we?

But now, the right is just to apologize and as some have suggested, get deprogramed (sounds a little like the USSR). So when your side sees its own mistakes, and will confess them, then you might speak to such as I.


Jason did not say you were responsible for violence.

No one has demanded you apologize.

The only one who thinks this is you.

Saying that the content authors of Spectrum Website are speaking to you directly and making demands without any evidence is a symptom of a serious problem. I am honestly worried about you.


Oh boy. Equating the BLM protests which did spawn SOME violence with the Capitol Protest and attack is a terribly false equivalency. See the AP comment on this issue, used by Republican leaders immediately after the Capitol riot/insurrection. When Democrats or Republicans whose supporters break the law, in whatever fashion, use the “other” side to minimize or complain about what happened, be sure that it is wrong.


I think he used the words: “accept responsibility,” right? And the first paragraph of his essay speaks of the riots in Washington. Seems the context is the rioting there.

Would my accepting responsibility not be apologizing for the problem I have theoretically supported? What else?


I took a trip this June to CA. My sweet daughter lives there, she is quite the liberal, and did protest on street corners. You would have approved.

She asked me to put a sign on my car: “White Silence is Violence!”

So, If white silence is violence, then Spectrum posters who are silent are I guess, in the same boat, they support violence. I have heard many condemned because they did not denounce violence.

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But Jason does this very thing in his essay!

I read the AP article. The AP is leftist, but did have some balance. They described the BLM protests as “mostly nonviolent”. But about 7% of them were violent, that is 7% of 7750, with equals 543 violent protests.

The Trump rally in the capitol was the only rally with major violence. THE ONLY ONE.

I don’t see the false equivalency you see. How many people were killed in the BLM riots? Altogether 19+? compared to 5. How about property destroyed? several tens of thousands to 2 Billion? Portland riots lasting months, and the capitol riots a few hours?

In fact, on assessment, the Trump riot was much less harmful.

Attacking the capitol was very wrong. But the BLM riots were more wrong.

And James, do you think the media are going to be unbiased in their reporting of this when it is just so ripe for use? You should read some on the right so as to get balance.


A. Millions of people protesting all over the country for the police murder of a black man, which was an unplanned spark that lit a fire whose kindling was ripe with past episodes, which resulted (unplanned by BLM leaders) in riots egged on by mostly outside agitators, is being compared to ginning up a false narrative about the election of the President BY THE PRESIDENT and congressional supporters and conspiracy theorists? The riot attacked our democracy and you are comparing the $$$ destroyed in scattered cities with our CAPITOL, compared the deaths of rioters with the murders of Capitol police, compare the threat to the VP and members of congress doing their constitutional duty with that? What kind of classes in logic did you take?

B. A question? How many of you who supported our former president ever bothered to wonder why so many Republican leaders of the Lincoln party founded the Lincoln project? Why did a very few Republican leaders in Congress break with him? Why did the rest stay with him? Those of the voters who stay with him sensing if not knowing he is untruthful, incompetent, and so on, have allowed him to redefine the Grand Old Party in his image. You now have three factions: Anti-T, moderate R, Pro-T.

As a Christian who respected Republicans like Mitt Romney, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, the Bush family, Ronald Reagen, Dwight Eisenhower, I am appalled at what many Republicans have allowed to happen. They have become a fundamental threat to this nation. While Democrats are far from perfect, those who lost closer elections to Republicans than this one by far, have not lied and threatened democracy. Think HRC and Al Gore, And be ashamed of what you have permitted.


The problem is that even you guys here do not mind labeling conservatives as deplorable and homophobic and all other epitephs and being appalled. With no such being appalled at your own sins. You have refused to see the good Trump did do. Did you expect us to vote for Hillary, the great candidate you fielded?

Fundamental threat. Let’s see, how many where there? How long did it last? Could it happen agin? There is much more threat from the left. the universes will not allow conservatives to speak. Rioters roam the nation destroying, and you call those few a fundamental threat?

  1. The video was of a small portion of the encounter. There is a somewhat different story when you know all the facts. But that is the way these videos are.
  2. There was pent up emotion. But this too was ginned up by previously biased reporting. I have seen such dishonesty about this. Travon, Brown, and others were not police brutality at all, but natural cases of self defense. Very few were intentional police brutality.

And do you think any white police officer will shot at a black person without very carefully thinking off what he is up against? I read some months ago where an English teacher from Oakwood said here on Spectrum, “We are just not safe.” referring to being gunned down by whites or the police. That is all just not true. She is in more danger from her black neighbors than whites or the police. And this by a long shot.

So, if that kind of thinking is rife, there is no hope for the truth.

Ah, yes, outside agitators. A leader of BLM in Chicago said the looting was a form of reparations.

Now, there were some whites among the looters etc. But to say, “mostly” is a stretch.

I don’t know. The media sure paints it as a false narrative. But the media is pretty low on the trust scale these days; if you are going to trust what they say all the time, you are in a group of only 9
% of the nation. I am unsure of the election. I trust the courts, and they rejected Trumps claims, so I think that he did not prove his point. There were some shenanigans in some places. Time will tell.

If the liberals want cooperation, then they should hold out an olive branch rather than a command to take responsibility and submit to deprograming. Liberals offered Conservatives no such cooperation when Trump was elected. And it was a foolish move, for they could have gained much, he was not a true conservative.


ACLED data are not always reliable. I read their report. at least 19 were part of the riots. And Randle, of whom were the shopkeepers of Washington boarding up their stores before the election against? Just answer that.


This just really bothers me. Conservatives are barred from social media, for no reason. They are canceled from speeches at universities. The Washington Post prints a story about Hunter, and it is suppressed by social media, the mainstream media, but is finally found to be true. In fact, what was it, 55 FBI etc. folk said it looked like Russian disinformation, when it was all true, and they were covering. You don’t think that is the real threat to democracy?? Get real.

I did not support not do support rioting at the capitol. But I am not responsible for what some radicals do. I am not them.

Jason wants me to “Stand Down”, while you will take no responsibility for your sides horrible acts, including the cancel culture, the massively biased media, and suppression of free speech etc. That is rank hypocrisy.

I will say one more thing. I have noticed an improvement in media coverage. They are asking Biden some hard questions, and are seeming more willing to look at both sides. Your Atantic article was a step in a more balanced direction. I hope in continues.


The political divisiveness of our current moment is mirrored in the Christian church at large in America, and by extension the Adventist Church itself.

This seems very plausible. Presumably the Second coming would not be possible under these circumstances.Therefore, we in other parts of the world hold you directly responsible for this situation.

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Evidence is avoided and facts are discounted because the “media” is low on the trust scale? Which media? Fox, QAnon, Right-wing websites? Oh no, the NYT, WAPO, New York Magazine, the Atlantic, the National Review (conservative Republican which criticizes DJT). Any “standard” reporter who could prove that there is a deep state controlling the government, that “fake media” is in on it, and blah blah blah–would win a Pulitzer overnight and be celebrated even by ME, an independent, as a PATRIOT of the highest order.

I am unsure of the election. I trust the courts, and they rejected Trumps claims, so I think that he did not prove his point. WAS IT A POINT OR WAS IT A LIE? WERE HIS EFFORTS TO GET THE DOJ TO FALSIFY GEORGIA’S RESULTS JUST TO PROVE A POINT OR TO CORRUP THE DEMOCRACY WE ALL LOVE?

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