Four Lessons About Mob Rule From Acts 19
America has recently seen irrational, out-of-control mobs erupting throughout the Kavanaugh hearings. We have been treated to scenes of screeching protesters in the Senate gallery, clawing and banging on the door of the Supreme Court, and protesting on the steps of the Court. This really has gotten out of hand now, with some 567 arrests, the death threats against Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Justice Kavanaugh and his family, death threats against Dr. Ford herself, and the constant tracking down and harassing of anyone (like Senator Ted Cruz or Sarah Sanders) who disagrees with them.
Charlie Kirk tried to ask intelligent questions, and give rational answers backed up with facts to the protesters, all to no avail:
Does the Bible give us any insight or guidance on how we can understand and deal with such behavior? There is a fascinating story from chapter 19 of the Acts of the Apostles in which the ancient Christians had to deal with a violent, irrational mob. Here are four truths we can we glean from this story today:
1. Christianity seen as a threat to power.
The idolaters in Acts 19 saw the biblical faith as a threat to their power. We pick up the story in verse 23 where a silversmith named Demetrius made silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis (her Roman name is Diana as in the King James translation).
He rallied idol-makers, warning that their livelihood was threatened by the new faith of the Christians: "Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that the gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship" (Acts 19:25-27).
These pagans simply could not tolerate the Christian worldview: that there is an absolute moral law in the universe, that it is revealed to us from the Creator and Lawgiver, and that all of mankind will one day give an account to Him. The faith confronted the pagan worldview with the idea that since there is only one God and only one Savior of the human race, all other gods must be false.
These particular pagans simply could not tolerate that the Christians were peacefully telling their message of truth, love, forgiveness, and redemption in Jesus Christ. The silversmiths were losing business — and with it, power — and they had to put a stop to this new threat.
So they responded by organizing their community with mob action. They had a mass rally to violently intimidate the Christians into silence (Acts 19:28-30). Does this sound familiar to anything going on today? Just recently Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) made it clear when he was questioning/interrogating Mike Pompeo that a biblical, Christian view of sexually is not to be tolerated:
Apparently the worldviews of the communists, the Muslims, the LGBTQ crowd and every liberal member of Congress and the media are just fine, but a biblical world view is no longer welcome at the table of ideas. How tolerant.
Just as the silversmiths in Ephesus saw their power threatened, it appears that the Democrat leadership in Congress sees its power threatened — and possibly slipping away as well. We have already seen rank and file Leftists use violence in the Antifa protests and the attempted assassination of Congressman Steve Scalise, and the violence against college speakers such as Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Ben Shapiro. Now, seemingly on cue, the protesters invade the Senate gallery and the Supreme Court (how are they repeatedly let in?).
2. The mob chants slogans to intimidate and silence dissent.
In Acts 19, the idolaters chant their slogans to intimidate. The worshipers of Artemis do not try to engage the Christians into peaceful debate. (Verse 29 says they dragged Gaius and Aristarchus, two of Paul's fellow Christians, into the amphitheater to assault them.) These particular pagans are not interested at all in logic, facts, or the free exchange of ideas. They only care about money, power, and force.
To intimidate the Christians, they chant the same slogan over and over again: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" When a Jewish man, Alexander, wanted to make a defense to the crowd, "For about two hours they all cried out with one voice, 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!'"
We see this repeated today. The anti-Kavanaugh protesters, the Antifa thugs, and some of the college Marxists who hate Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter resort to chanting their slogans of "We Believe Survivors" or "Kavanaugh is not my judge" or the ever original and always inspiring, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Kavanaugh has got to go!"
Watch Charlie Kirk bravely and politely try to discuss anything rational with these mobs. When they quickly run out of anything factual to say, they simply chant their magic incantation. They might as well be saying, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" They cannot think past a slogan or cliché; nor do they care to.
3. Some just want peace — under the law.
There are moral, rational unbelievers who want to live in peace with Christians under law. In Acts 19:35-41 we read of the town clerk (not a Christian) who uses sane, rational arguments to try to convince the mob to use the rule of law: "...you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly."
Notice how this pagan man believed in the presumption of innocence of the Christians, reminded everyone of the due process of the day, and calmly urged them to deal with things peacefully. He was not the only "noble Roman" present. Verse 31 tells us that Paul had friends who were pagan government officials ("Asiarchs" in the Greek text), and they were begging Paul not to go into the assembly to address the mob.
We must remember that those of us with a faith based in the Bible (Jews and Christians) are not the only ones who wish to live in peace under the rule of law. There are plenty of other peaceful people who are not of our faith, and they think the mob mentality is insane and dangerous as well. There are plenty of people who do not believe what we believe, and they are noble and virtuous, and believe just as much as we do that we should (and can) get along peacefully.
Today, I look around and see many of my fellow Americans who do not share my Christian faith (or my rather conservative politics), yet they are just as shocked and appalled at the immature, violent, and despicable behavior of many on the Left during these Kavanaugh hearings. All people of good will need to band together to completely disavow the insane behavior we have recently witnessed, or we will lose our country.
4. We can outflank the mob.
Paul and the Christians outflanked the mob. Notice that Paul and his fellow travelers did not do a "frontal assault" on the mob. Paul tried; he wanted to go in but his friends (wisely) prevented him. A government official from Ephesus was able to calm them down and dismiss the crowd. Many times that does not work; and the mob certainly was in no mood to listen to the leader of their perceived enemy.
Acts 20 tells us that Paul and the others merely went on to the next town. They kept going to the next town and the next, preaching their message of redemption. They were most effective when they just went around the mob, and went to the people who were most receptive.
What do we learn from this? The chances are pretty good that we would convince no one in those protests that they were wrong. Look at their utterly unhinged behavior. Are they really going to listen to us? Charlie Kirk is a brave soul, but honestly the only thing his confrontation with the protesters accomplished was showing that they are irrational and violent. (Maybe that is what he wanted all along.)
If we really want to confront a group of protesters, why not catch them completely off guard? They WANT to have someone confront them in an angry way. What would happen if a "Christian flash mob" of singers showed up and sang Christian hymns and contemporary songs? (do not try that with a truly violent group such as Antifa.) What if a choir sang "the Hallelujah Chorus" to the screaming protesters? (That would take a lot of preparation, but let's start thinking outside the box.)
However, if we don't want to confront protesters, and we want to "get through" to someone, why not just "outflank" the mobsters? Of course, pray for them, but also go talk to people who are horrified by the behavior they have witnessed. Go talk to people who see that something terrible has gone wrong in our country. Teach the younger generations right now before they are poisoned by the Left.
Go talk to people who have lost hope, and point them in the right direction of truth, repentance, forgiveness, peace, and redemption.