A Topographical Assessment

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, January 18, 2017 2 comments

by David Odegard

Ah, constant reader, I enjoy writing for you. The time you take to see life from a different perspective thrills me. Thank you for briefly allowing me to be your guide. I thought I would pull you aside this morning for a private conference about what it all means.

We live in a postmodern age, a pluralistic age where nothing means anything. I look around at the church in the West and I have to agree with the comments of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his 1978 speech to Harvard University entitled “A World Split Apart.” He says, “Through deep suffering, people in our own country [communist Russia] have achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive.”

Western civilization is folding in upon itself, consumed by its own self-hatred. The age-old values, good or bad, have been derided by men like Howard Zinn who accentuates the negative and eliminates the positive in American history. Some of it we deserve, alas all our misdeeds are coming home to their ugly roost.

The secularists who want to begin on the foundation of atheistic independence from God blame Christianity for most of the problems and take credit for all of its gains. It is an easy target. Christianity is seen as a monolithic entity that has given authoritarian governments their stamp of approval for all of the institutional injustices in the world. But Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, and Mao were not Christians; they were statists first and atheists second.

Meanwhile, western Christianity is not monolithic. On one hand there were big fat southern baptists giving a sausagey thumbs up for slavery; but on the other, slavery came to end because of the dedicated opposition by Christians who wanted to hasten the Kingdom of God. Slavery could never be compatible with that kingdom. This was a gift to the world from believing Christians, not Muslims, not liberals.

Or perhaps think of the church’s endorsement of the acquisition of central American gold in conquistador fashion. Yet Christians lose credit somewhere along the line for the ministry of Bartolome de las Casas, who spent his life fighting the evils of his own countrymen and serving the native population. Or perhaps think of the way the Roman Church looked the other way while Hitler greedily stoked the ovens. Yet Dietrich Bonhoeffer surrendered his life in opposition to Hitler. Bonhoeffer did do this not because he was a social justice warrior, but because he believed in the kingdom Jesus Christ preached. This kingdom of God was incompatible with state worship. Bonhoeffer was a Christian pastor; he didn’t have much in common with contemporary social justice warriors who are over-willing to surrender all power to the state in return for an advancement of what they determine to be justice.

This story has been playing out ever since Christians crawled out of the catacombs and were invested with Roman political power. The dual identity of the spiritual church and the church of temporal power has been an internal battle among Christians ever since.

Modern social justice warriors (SJW’s) want to claim direct descent from those deep believers like De las Casas and Bonhoeffer, but their commonality is only surface deep. SJW’s begin with secularism and seek to harness state power to control others in pursuit of their own values. Casas and Bonhoeffer begin with deep confidence in God’s revealed Word and submit themselves to its desire. This motivates them to disempower state control. Furthermore, SJW’s do not derive their values from the Bible; they only care about the Bible when it happens to agree with them. They like Jesus when He talks against Pharisees or when He tells the story of the Good Samaritan. But they despise Jesus when He says that marriage is between one man and one woman, when He tells the Samaritan woman at the well to repent of her adulterous ways, or when He affirms the authority and absolute reliability of the Scriptures. For the SJW’s, Jesus and Che could almost be the same person. But neither Casas or Bonhoeffer could make that mistake. They rest in the hope that ultimate justice is only secured after the Great Judgement.

To be sure, modern evangelicalism is suffering from a deep identity crisis as it wanders in the wilderness of postmodernity. It retreated a hundred years ago into an ivory fortress to await the imminent return of Christ. After the establishment of the nation of Israel, the dispensationalists were animated by a maniacal assurance that Jesus must return before 1988, one generation after the rebirth of Israel.

That was almost thirty years ago, and Jesus has not returned. We don’t know when to expect Him. So we are like groggy somnambulists who have finally opened the curtains and realize that the world is on fire. How did this happen? How did we lose all our hospitals, our colleges and seminaries, our adoption agencies? How did the secularists get control of them all? How did the government take over all our alms-houses? We didn’t value these institutions because we thought our days on earth were numbered.

The SJW’s were only too happy to take them over. They knew that we had occupied the hearts of the populace because we truly cared and proved it when we founded all these institutions. The progressives took them over because we fell asleep. They took over and took credit for all the racial equality movement. They took over medicine and hospitals. They took over welfare and therapy. They took all things, but did not start any of them. They started planned parenthood. We started adoption agencies.

No longer is it socially credible for the pastor to point out the reality of sin; rather, a psychotherapist points to the underlying causes which justify one’s terrible actions. What does the pastor do in response? They seek clinical counseling degrees, too. And in so doing, they surrender the entire field to secularist concepts and secularist solutions. Christian pastors can no longer assert that our deepest problems necessitate theological, rather than chemical, remedies. That is not to say that chemistry does not play a role in healing the human person, but booze will never work like repentance. Contemporary society’s biggest criticism of evangelicals is that we are self-righteous and self-absorbed, that we do not care for the poor or downtrodden. We deserve some but not all of that derision. It is time for evangelicals to reassert the ministry of Jesus for the healing and revival of the world.

Please, will you join me in developing a comprehensive social ethic that has its foundation in the Bible and in Christian theology? Can we begin on that foundation rather than the parasitic secular humanism?

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Steve said...

This is an excellent writing, David. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Nice. So where does " white evangelicals" fit in here? They sure look like the southern Baptists who incorporated slavery into Godly behavior. They are now in league wuth kkk and so called ultra right.