09 May 2015

The Danger of a False Antithesis

"If there is no visible difference between you and the world, depend upon it, there is no invisible difference." ~Charles H. Spurgeon

An acquaintance posted this online. To be blunt he's a rabid Right-wing partisan, fanatically pro-gun, pro-military, a one-time veteran and now employee of the military-industrial complex, an Obama birther etc...

He hates socialism, though he doesn't actually know what it is, and promotes rebellion against the state, though he has spent the totality of his adult life working for the state and promoting its power. Even in the private sector the funds which support the business that employs him come from the tax payer. He's invested in the war machine, has a handicapped child and yet hates wealth-redistribution, regulation and taxes.

He believes that his political stance establishes his antithesis with the world. To be 'liberal' is to be of the world and to be a conservative Nationalist is to be 'not' of this world.

I wrestle with how to get through to people like this. The Bible is a foreign book to them and when they do read it, it is not something they submit to but something that is data-mined for political ammunition.

It's almost like we have to sit down and say...

"This is a Bible. There are 66 books and they're all about Jesus Christ. Let's start at the very beginning..."

It's that serious. Their misreading of the Bible on such a massive scale coupled with the embrace of cultural norms and narratives has made them almost impenetrable and intellectually unassailable. Today we have people that almost can't be reached because humanly speaking there's nothing to work with! They cannot pay attention to anything for more than a few minutes, they don't read beyond something that would fit in a twitter feed and being ignorant of basic history, theology and especially the Bible they are unable to follow an argument or keep their attention focused on much of anything for more than a few minutes.

They're in a very bad place. I am reminded of the dwarves in CS Lewis' 'The Last Battle'. If one tries to give them good things they reject it and find it offensive. They have shut themselves off and will only hear the voices of those that affirm their explanation of the world.

The Spurgeon quote is great and apropos, but sadly I think the one who posted it is the epitome of what I call the world entering the Church. He's not alone. There are plenty of other ways the world enters the Church but by focusing on theological liberalism or Joel Osteen people like this are allowed to slip through the net and think they have not bought into the world system. In fact they're completely consumed by it.

The world teaches us to love ourselves and money and the systems that affirm these beliefs. It teaches us to be proud, in people's faces, to attack other people and destroy their character, not in the interest of truth but to simply destroy and vanquish them.

It teaches us to rail against providentially placed authorities, or anything to questions the idea that we should get whatever we want whenever we want it. It teaches us to take for granted that which has been given to us and to look down on others who haven't achieved what we have. Knowing no antithesis, the life it promotes affirms these values and is thus unholy. There is no giving of the self to others, there is no love for the lost, compassion or forgiveness. Enemies are to be destroyed and vengeance is to be taken. They speak evil of those who disagree with them, whatever the cause and they engage in these behaviours with utter abandon. They become violent and threatening and end up despising people who try to promote good things. They're backstabbers, treacherous people who will not listen and will not be turned. They despise those who are 'beneath' them and live to please themselves and rejoice in theologies and philosophies which affirm their system and historical myths that give it credence.

They have a form of godliness but deny its authority. In truth they know not God nor care anything about what His Word says. They cannot see the Kingdom because they are not born again. Un-redeemed and Un-renewed they are full of vengeance and will be destroyed for their idolatry which they believe is Biblical Christianity. Their 'Christian' worldview is anything but.

I'm glad he quotes Spurgeon but one wishes he would read Spurgeon and perhaps understand the Gospel. He has a zeal but it is not according to knowledge. We don't have to fall in love with Barack Obama but is it not the essence of worldliness to allow the world to frame our understanding of the issues? Of all people we as believers should be able to step back and see the world's systems for what they really are... deceptions. The false gospel of power won't allow for this and thus Christians become fools sucked into a political struggle. In their zeal to be salt they lose their flavour and in terms of the Kingdom become worthless.