The Pacification fo the Christians (4)

BLM-Cross

Thoughts on Why

There are likely numerous intersecting reasons for why so many Mainline pastors and parishioners work so diligently to convince their fellow Christians to be always “meek and mild.”  If there is one uniting theme it is that of control.  In the following sections I will explore two of these dimensions of control enabled by this partial and therefore false Gospel teaching.

Therapeutic Religion

We ended the previous post on this topic with the point made by J. I. Packer that the new gospel is focused on making humans “feel better.”  It is obvious that by confronting another person with accusations of misbehavior or incorrect ideas we will most likely (in the short run) make them feel worse rather than better.  This goes double (at least) for one Christian confronting another Christian.  Thus, a gospel centered on humans and focused on advancing their self esteem will need a savior who teaches that we must always be “meek and mild” in order to be a true follower.

Now consider how this new (false) gospel intersects with the victim-based morality of identity politics and intersectionality.  By virtue of their claims of victimhood entire groups of humans are placed beyond criticism regardless of their behavior.  For Christians who have been conditioned to be always “meek and mild” there are virtually no intellectual or theological defenses to the acceptance of these ideas.  Thus, any demands by these groups (or by those claiming to support them), no mater how non-Biblical or even anti-Christian are given the presumption of validity.

This strategy has been utilized to drive Christians to abandon the definition of Christian marriage and to justify the superposition of secular neo-Marxist ideologies ( for example, Critical Race Theory) onto Christian theology.  We “meek and mild” Christians dare not resist lest we find ourselves accused of being mean to the certified victim groups in whose supposed interests these ideas are being advanced.

Scriptural Distortion and Dishonesty

Once the “meek and mild” Christian imperative has been internalized it is much easier to smuggle false doctrines into Christianity.  It’s also far more difficult to defend true but “not nice enough” doctrines.

On the false doctrine side, all that has to be done to create credibility is to show that the new (false) doctrine makes people feel better and/or advances the interests of certified victims.  With regard to Biblical justification even a single verse can be extrapolated to cover the entire ideological scope.

Thus, we are confidently told by environmentalist that since The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15) we are therefore compelled to accept their positions on “global warming” or the number of parts-per-million of a given chemical in the air.  After all, to not agree means that we don’t care about “the poor” or “the children.”  It doesn’t matter if their policies actually harm, say, the poor by denying them the electric power necessary for economic advancement in order to limit carbon emissions.  What matters is that we can “feel good” about our commitment to environmental justice.

In other cases Bible verses can be twisted into saying the opposite of what they actually meant or even created from thin air.  One infamous case is Barack Obama’s claim that the Bible teaches us to be “our brother’s keeper” as a justification for his Progressive policies.  Here’s one example”

“But part of that belief comes from my faith in the idea that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper; that as a country, we rise and fall together.”

But the actual Biblical passage has nothing to do with one person being another’s keeper.  No, it has to do with the first murderer attempting to hide his guilt from God (Genesis 4).

8Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”  While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.  9Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”  “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  10The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.

But, since the then President was presumed to be helping people he is given a complete pass.

The most egregious use of false Scripture was by Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg in an attempt to justify abortion up to the time of delivery.  Here’s the quote:

“Right now, they hold everybody in line with this one piece of doctrine about abortion, which is obviously a tough issue for a lot of people to think through morally. Then again, there’s a lot of parts of the Bible that talk about how life begins with breath, and so even that is something that we can interpret differently,”

In fact there is no place in the Bible where life is defined to begin only at an infant’s first breath.  But there are dozens of verses in the Bible that define the unborn to have life.  But, since Mr. Buttigieg claims to be a “nice” supporter of women’s rights (to abort their child at any time they wish) he gets to make up Biblical teaching out of whole cloth.

All of this Scriptural falsehood and much more is smuggled in under the cloak of “being nice” or “being helpful.”  By these means our Christian theology has been twisted to support secular, partisan political ideologies.  And it is by this means that Christians are shamed and fooled into seeing support of these secular ideologies as requirements of their faith.

The Pacification of the Christians (3)

The two greatest Christian Apostles clashed in strong disagreement over the nature of the Gospel.

Were it necessary to be always meek and mild to “follow Christ” then we would expect to see this characteristic prominently displayed in the Church being built by the Apostles.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, lists of Bible verses on the topic of “Church Discipline” include many dozens of examples.  It turns out that the Apostolic Christian church was riven by conflict, and by the exercise of discipline in many forms (some drastic).  And yet most of our contemporary pastors pretend that somehow this is all ignorable because there are other Biblical passages that do indeed teach peacefulness.

But they err greatly in presuming the right to pick and choose which aspects of God’s Word are worthy of inclusion and which are not.  In a Mainline denomination the institutional pressure is to do just that.  This pressure must be resisted and rejected by clergy and laity alike if we truly want to know and follow Christ.

So, let’s look into a few of these Biblical passages that are carefully ignored by our teachers of “meek and mild” Christianity.  I will limit myself to the New Testament, not because the Old Testament isn’t relevant, but rather because of the false assumption that the New Testament is the reason for the “meek and mild” uniform standard of conduct.

The Apostles

Galatians 2:11-14 (NIV)

The most important incident  of open conflict in the early church was between no other than the Apostles Paul and Peter!

But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong.  When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised.  But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore.  He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.  As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?  

In this incident the Apostle Paul openly confronted the Apostle Peter (The Rock upon whom Jesus Christ said His church would be built) for error and hypocrisy.  He did not meekly accept what was clearly an anti-Gospel act on Peter’s part.  And yet, we are taught to meekly accept anything taught by our Mainline leaders because that is “the Christian thing to do.”

This post could go on to thousands of words were we to document and discuss all of the other Bible passages that deal with conflict and discipline.  So, for brevity here are just a few selected passages for you to read and consider.

Matthew 18:15-17 (ESV)

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

The Apostles were clearly following this teaching by Jesus as they built the church.  Note that Jesus is expecting conflict in the church and therefore is describing how it should be handled, including the last step of excommunication.

1 Corinthians 5:5 (ESV)

You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

This is an example of utilizing extreme, harsh measures in the hope that a soul can be saved.  We allow souls to run unopposed towards perdition rather than cause any worldly discomfort.

Romans 16:17-18 (ESV)

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Ah yes, the smooth talker who convinces us that they are teaching the Gospel while they are actually pursuing godlessness, power and worldly position.  Remember, the Gospel is a scandalous insult to our human pride. 

1 Timothy 5:19-20 (ESV)

Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

Obviously this is understood to cover extreme cases.  But make no mistake, there are far more extreme cases than there should be because of the false “meek and mild” piety taught and accepted in our congregations.

Acts 5:1-11 (ESV)

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.

Peter didn’t hesitate to confront a church member who was deceitful.  

Titus 1:10,11,13b,14 (NIV)

For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. …  Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth.

My denomination (the PCUSA) is saturated with “rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception” who shamelessly distort and deceive.  I have written a 300+ page book documenting this scandal.


This all brings us back to J. I. Packer’s thesis that the “old gospel” has been supplanted by a “new gospel” that is so purposefully partial that it has become a fraudulent gospel.  And the entire purpose of this fraudulent gospel is nothing less than to replace God with humankind as the center of Christianity.

But in the new gospel the centre of reference is man. This is just to say that the old gospel was religious in a way that the new gospel is not. Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach men to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and His ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference. The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed.

From this change of interest has sprung a change of content, for the new gospel has in effect reformulated the biblical message in the supposed interests of “helpfulness.”  

(J. I. Packer’s introductory essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ)

This “gospel” may be more pleasing to our prideful sin, but it is a lie that must be confronted, not meekly accepted.

A Preview of Next Week’s Posts

I’d like to address an issue that has repeatedly come up recently, that being the concern that to be angry at the recent election events and people behind them is somehow less than Christian.  I’m going to begin publishing a series on my blog tomorrow titled “The Pacification of the Christians” that attempts to address this issue.  The specific belief under examination is that Jesus Christ was uniformly gentle, meek and mild; and therefore a true Christian must adhere to this pattern at all times.

What concerns me is the general idea that a “good Christian” shouldn’t get angry at or respond in anger to events that are clearly unjust if not downright evil.  I think it’s also the case that we Christians who are more politically conservative / libertarian have been singled out for special enforcement of this falsehood.

I’m certainly not encouraging anyone to lash out at family, friends, church members or strangers.  However, I am saying that there are occasions in which a strong, even angry response to destructive people and ideas is within Christian morality.  I will go even farther, and say that there are occasions in which to not respond strongly is itself unChristian.

If you are interested you can visit my blog throughout the week (currently there are four posts in development, but I may add one more).  For now, I have addressed this issue in my eBook Christ and Cornelius: The Biblical Case Against Christian Pacifism, with a few excerpts following.

Jesus Christ certainly taught that we should reach out in love to all people. After all, the Great Commission is the climax of Matthew’s Gospel. However, careful study of Scripture’s testimony yields a far more complex picture. Jesus’ teaching and actions were indeed sometimes dominated by unconditional love and equality for all people. At other times they were dominated by a fierce judgment and anger against the stubborn sinfulness of people or situations.

***

Clearly the “meek and mild” characterization of Jesus Christ is incomplete.  Secular interests (supported by their religious fellow travelers) in our culture like the “meek and mild” idea because it simultaneously renders Jesus impotent and un-differentiable from the crowd of human “wise teachers.” Christians must face up to the truth that Jesus Christ is far more than a “meek and mild” enabler of the comfortable life. To truly follow Him we must know Him in completeness.

***

The reason that there is a Western Civilization at all is because Christians of earlier ages didn’t falsely turn God’s Word into an excuse for cowardice and defeatism.  This statement pertains to a time as recent as decades ago and extends back through centuries. If Western Civilization is destroyed and replaced by Political Islam or resurgent Communism, the resulting death and destruction across the planet will be far worse than if we had stood and fought.

***

My primary purpose in taking up David’s life as revealed in 1 and 2 Samuel was to reestablish the undeniable connection that exists between this king’s temporal reign and Christ’s eternal reign. Although this connection is utterly obvious and thus unavoidable, yet our contemporary theologians, pastors and parishioners all too often have attempted avoid it. Although they are motivated by numerous and sundry causes, one of the most prevalent is that David’s reign is related to Christ’s as a foreshadowing in time of what God has done in eternity. Thus, when it is found that David’s life was at utter variance from the “officially approved” contemporary Christian model, powerful and deeply disturbing questions are raised about the credibility and truthfulness of that model. So, rather than bringing their model into alignment with the testimony of Scripture, they all too often attempt to diminish if not outright discredit it.

***

The dominant Western culture has told us that, simply by being a citizen of the West we bear all of the sins of that civilization, and therefore have no right to oppose anything, including ideologies of monstrous evil. This is a monstrous lie in the service of a monstrous evil. Yes, we must continue to use our freedoms to think, speak, criticize, debate and, ultimately, improve and reform that which is wrong with Western Civilization. However, were we to succumb to the elite’s ultimate vision, there may be no speech, thought or action that falls outside the control of whatever inhumane, totalitarian ideology occupies the place once held by Western Civilization.

Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (5)

urban-public-ed-failure-reading-chart

This figure shows the utter failure of public education in large U.S. cities.  Note that the displayed percentages are of students who are not proficient in reading.

What Should be Done?

I certainly don’t expect Progressive individuals and organizations to embrace conservative ideas for welfare reform.  However, even this position doesn’t preclude the finding of common ground.  For example, the Progressive community could say something like this:

“While we believe that conservative ideas on welfare reform are fundamentally flawed, we yet agree that the current set of welfare policies has not achieved their intended results.  In fact, on numerous key measures of well-being the beneficiaries of welfare have significantly digressed over the past decades.  Therefore, we will support an open discussion on what has gone wrong and why.  From there we will support an open debate on the reforms necessary to correct past mistakes and increase the likelihood of future success.”

The tragic truth is that virtually no one finds this imagined statement by our Progressive elites to be in the slightest credible.  This is because their power rests on the false assumption of their intellectual and moral superiority. Thus they cannot survive if they ever admit to have been wrong.  Not surprisingly then, what we have observed is retreat into reactionary positions from which any criticism of the Welfare State or proposal for welfare/education reform is viciously attacked.  When “welfare reform” was passed in the 1990s the Progressive community pulled out all the stops to retard and ultimately reverse this initiative.  The Progressive community continues to be opposed to “school choice” even though a majority of disadvantaged parents support it.

In the 1960s and 70s Mainline denominational leadership tied itself to the secular Progressive movement as the vehicle for positive social change.  We can legitimately debate the wisdom of this decision within context of what was known at that time.  However, from the 1980s on it has become progressively more clear that the Great Society and associated policies have had the opposite effect of those claimed to be intended by their supporters.

We Mainline Christians must seriously ask ourselves what we really are accomplishing by our continuing support of these destructive social policies.  If we want an endless supply of people in poor and oppressed communities as recipients of our charity then by all means continue on.  In that direction lies the continued affirmation of a godless elite class who value us only to the extent that we slavishly uphold their power and follow their political line.  In that case Jesus’ words should burn in our souls.

1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

Matthew 6:1, 2 (NIV)

If we want to actually improve the lives of the people trapped in these communities then we must open our hearts and minds to the concept of reforms that challenge the current Progressive orthodoxy.  In that direction lies suffering, as we will be subjected to the full force of hatred that holds current policies in place.  We will be called terrible names.  Our motives will be attacked.  Our Christian faith will be denigrated.  Everything will be done that can be to make the world consider us pariahs.  But if we reject their power to destroy we may actually through God’s grace find new paths that lead towards renewal and hope.

18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:18-27 (ESV)

 

Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (4)

hell-good-results

Commentary

I suppose some might contend that I’ve placed my thumb on the scales in describing the two cases of this series’ previous post.  After all, they may argue, don’t the Christian organizations who operate within the Case 1 framework also work to resolve the “root causes” of poverty and oppression?  If you limit this critique to intentions then I may be able to agree.  However, if we insist on results then there can be only strong disagreement.

I have already discussed this conflict between “intentions” and “results” in detail (see here for definitions and here for commentary).  Note that the intentions of the Christian organizations in Case 1 and Case 2 were initially identical.  What differentiates them is their response to observing actual results over a significant time period.

The Great Society legislation that created what we now call the Welfare State was passed in the mid-1960s.  At the time the stated intention was to end poverty and racism through aggressively expanded government action and new programs.  Not surprisingly there was significant, though ultimately ineffective, opposition to this set of policies.  However, there can be no doubt that the intentions behind the Great Society by most supporters were very good.

Moynihan

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Therefore, when in 1965 a report titled The Negro Family: The Case For National Action, which has become  known as the Moynihan Report was issued by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a sociologist serving as Assistant Secretary of Labor under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the the resulting firestorm was understandable. A “resounding cry of outrage” occurred because Mr. Moynihan dared to challenge the then Progressive party line that it was only “the system” that stood between the black community and full equality in American society.  For this sin Mr. Moynihan was hounded out of the Johnson Administration.

In context of what was known in 1965 we may be able to forgive Progressives for being so politically protective of a new set of government policies.  After all, if they were successful then the twin evils of poverty and racism would have been defeated.

By, say, 1995, there could be no credible doubt that the Great Society had not just failed, but had condemned its intended beneficiaries to multigenerational dependence, poverty and hopelessness.  This is why, though dishonestly said, President Clinton felt obliged in 1996 to say that “the era of big government is over” and sign Welfare Reform into law.

Amy-Wax-and-Larry-Alexander-e1503967429284-620x435

Amy Wax and Larry Alexander

However, any reform of the Welfare State was anathema to the Progressive movement.  Therefore, a coalition of Progressive groups, definitely including many Christian organizations, opposed and eventually overturned these reforms.  Thus by 2017, when two tenured professors (Amy Wax and Larry Alexander) published an article titled “Paying the price for the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture” there was a powerful Progressive response to destroy their careers and very persons.

In context of what has been known since at least the mid-1990’s this Progressive response is unforgivable (from a political as opposed to a religious perspective).  What Professors Wax and Alexander said was motivated by the tragic results of the Welfare State policies.  What they proposed were ideas to recover the social and cultural capital that had been destroyed by the Welfare State.  It’s legitimate to disagree with their proposals.  In the best case that disagreement would be accompanied by counter-proposals seeking the same better ends.  It’s utterly corrupt in every sense of the word to seek the destruction of people who see the suffering of the Welfare State’s supposed beneficiaries and offer reforms to improve their lives, all while maintaining the very policies that led to the catastrophe.

Make no mistake, this entrenched, vicious coalition of Progressives, including many Christian organizations, is absolutely committed to preventing even the smallest reforms to the Welfare State.  And this commitment exists in spite of well over 50 years of failure.  I simply ask, are these the actions of people who are committed to results that demonstrably raise others out of poverty?  Or are they the actions of people who are content for the supposed beneficiaries of their compassion to fall ever deeper into hopelessness, violence, and despair?  I contend that almost 60 years on it is utterly credible to conclude the latter.

Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (3)

mind-experiment

A Mind Experiment

In order to explore the true nature of what we want to accomplish, consider the following two theoretical cases.

Case 1

A Christian organization identifies a group of people who are undeniably oppressed and impoverished.  They therefore develop support programs that minister to the individual members, families and organizations within this group.  Over a significant time period (i.e., decades) wonderful supportive spiritual, personal, financial and organizational relationships are developed.  Much that is good from a Christian perspective has clearly been accomplished.

However, over that same time period, although good is done, the overall environment in which this impoverished group lives not only doesn’t improve, but in many respects gets demonstrably worse.  For example, crime, including murder, increases.  Schools utterly fail to provide even the most basic educational value to students.  Family life remains utterly chaotic.

The Christian organization is aware of this situation, but refuses to ask why it has occurred, let alone do anything about it.  They rather continue their programs and ministries with only minor modifications.  Beyond this, in their political action they oppose any proposals to significantly change the schools, public safety, personal / family incentives and economics.  They thus, in effect, behave as reactionaries who deem the current policies and resulting environment to be the best that can be practically obtained.

Case 2

This case begins exactly like the first.  However, after a long period of time, say twenty years, leaders in the Christian organization begin to ask serious questions.  While they rejoice in the good that has been accomplished, they also mourn the fact that this impoverished group’s situation has demonstrably grown worse.  They begin to contemplate the tragic fact that, under the current set of social policies, the impoverishment (spiritual, educational, personal safety, economic, etc.) of this group will not be improved in any foreseeable timeframe.  Thus, in effect, the current social policies ensure that there will be an unending supply of victims to whom their Christian good works can be delivered.

Thus, if being kind to victims of impoverishment and oppression is the ultimate end of Christian compassion then this is a perfectly acceptable outcome.  But these leaders reject this ultimate end.  Rather, they conclude that the true ultimate end should be a situation in which this victim group no longer suffers under impoverishment and oppression at all.  In this end they would no longer need the support of Christian charity but would rather take their place in society as peers rather than supplicants.  Then the Christian organization, perhaps enriched by the contributions of this past impoverished group, could move on to other issues that appear most urgent.

But in order to pursue this new and better ultimate end the Christian leaders realize that they will have to confront the power interests that support the status quo.  The realize that their ideas for reform, such as rebuilding of marriage and the family, will be met by accusations of evil motivation.  Powerful political and social organizations will oppose reform of the schools, and will stoop low to attack the reformers.  Anything that smacks of economic self-sufficiency will be denounced as greed even though a massive structure of bureaucrats earn a good living by doling out endless goods, services and money that breed hopelessness and dependency.

 

Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (2)

intentions-hell-600x280

What Do We Really Want to Accomplish?

This is the core question that I have been asking.

We as limited, frail beings can never be absolutely certain that any action will have the intended results.  Were we to honestly review our actions as parents, congregants, children, friends, citizens and colleagues we would have to admit that many of our actions, though intended to advance the good, actually had decidedly mixed and even the opposite effect.  In many cases the actual effects didn’t become clear for months, years or decades after the fact.  It is so easy therefore to neglect the issue of actual consequences given these experiences.  Better, we imagine, to just follow our best intentions and hope for the best.

But then enters in the issue of sin.  If we are willing to admit (and many people aren’t) that we are corrupted by sin then even our intentions can’t be confidently assumed to be good.  Thus, we come to the terrible, humbling realization that our supposed good intentions may actually be bad intentions dressed up in our imaginations as good.  This thought is too scandalous for many people, including Christians, to accept.  Yes, they are happy to claim that others are motivated by evil intentions, but they are not willing to accept the same possibility for themselves.   Oh, they may intellectually claim to accept the fault of, say, “white privilege,” but by their selfless willingness to claim this sin they simultaneously are raised above it by their demonstration of a “higher consciousness.”

Given these fraught issues it’s easy to understand why busy, distracted people will dispense with the complexity and settle on good intentions as their moral guide.  But here lies the road to Hell.  It is thus because this guide creates massive opportunity for manipulation and deceit.  Note first that by accepting a superficial guide for their actions the people in question have telegraphed their vulnerability to exploitation.  And, by limiting their moral reasoning to only that which occurs before any results occur these same people can be deceived indefinitely.  Finally, use of a self-centered metric for merit makes people prone to seek the approval of others, particularly those others who occupy positions of power and prestige.

wolf-among-sheepIn this fallen world there is no shortage of wolves who are happy to prey on this population of good intenders.  Unfortunately the Christian Church is not immune to this evil.

The tragic truth is that, if we claim good intentions as our moral guide, then what we primarily want to accomplish is to feel good about ourselves.  Thus the people whom we claim to care for can easily become of secondary importance.  Worst of all, the actual results of our efforts can become virtually irrelevant.

But we can take precautions that reduce our vulnerability to this temptation that are both practical and effective, though requiring a bit more seriousness, patience and effort.

Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (1)

Screen Shot 2020-02-23 at 6.16.11 AM

By what metrics should Christians measure the success or failure of their charity, mission and compassion?

Introduction

It is long past time for Christians, particularly those who find themselves in Mainline Denominations, to reconsider their responsibilities with regard to charity, mission and compassion.  For generations we have operated under the unexamined assumption that these Christian duties are best accomplished by the giving of material resources to the poor and oppressed.  This assumption has driven both public policy and in person charitable efforts.

But at some point the question “Is it working?” must be asked and honestly answered if our goal is to truly benefit the poor and oppressed.  And before that, we must determine the metrics by which we measure progress or lack thereof.

religion-politicsI began to indirectly raise these questions in a 2017 series of posts titled Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics.  My primary goal was to examine the almost complete overlap of partisan Progressivism with Mainline political action.  However, in the fifth post of this series I introduced the specific case of Chicago, and pointed out that from the perspectives of crime and education Progressive public policies had not just failed, but had created an apparently permanent underclass.  I closed this post with the following comments.

These catastrophic failures, despite the incessant insistence on their benevolence by Progressives, Christian or otherwise, forces us to wonder about the relationship between intentions and results.  That is, if someone does things or supports policies because of “good intentions,” is that sufficient in and of itself as an act of charity?  Or, does their moral responsibility extend to the realm of demonstrable results?  These two philosophies lead to very different attitudes towards how best to help the poor, with corresponding differences in practical policies.

From there I examined in some detail the differences between “intentions based” and “results based” charitable philosophies, including two specific case studies.  In the ninth and final series post I introduced and discussed the concept of “moral hazard” within context of Mainline Progressive politics and associated charitable activities.  A useful definition for this term is:

Moral hazard is a situation where somebody has the opportunity to take advantage of somebody else by taking risks that the other will pay for. The idea is that people might ignore the moral implications of their choices: instead of doing what is right, they do what benefits them the most.

A year later I again picked up this line of inquiry, this time within the context of Socialism (Questions for Socialists, four posts total).  This is deeply relevant, as it is by this ideology that the Progressive Left, most definitely including many in Mainline Christian denominations, propose to deliver their vision of utopia.

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A Thought Experiment

Let’s imagine that there is a group of people who self-identify as protectors of the world’s poor and oppressed.  Members of this group continually boast about their good intentions for and practical expertise in improving the lot of humanity.  However, as a practical matter, we all know that what is said is not always what is actually in the heart.  Therefore, there is need for a means by which to determine if these people really care first and foremost about improving the lot of the poor and oppressed.

Let’s assume that in a specific nation the ideology and associated means by which these people propose to improve the world are embraced and implemented.  And, that the leadership of this group publicly and forcefully voice their support.

But something goes terribly wrong, and rather than the expected advance towards utopia the country descends into poverty, chaos, violence and starvation.  The fact of this utter failure is unavoidable and undeniable.  Thus, the leaders of this group must decide how to respond.

Response #1

It turns out that these leaders do indeed care first and foremost about the plight of the poor and oppressed.  Therefore, they enter into a state of public repentance followed by a ground-up reassessment of their ideology to determine what went wrong.  Although they may not (or may) throw out all of their ideology, they do honestly look into where it has led to the policies that resulted in such terrible human suffering.  After this process they reengage in the public debate, admitting their failures and seeking to advance updated solutions that they honestly believe will lead to improved human well-being.

Response #2

It turns out that these leaders didn’t really care about the plight of the poor and oppressed.  What they were really doing was to use their pretense of virtue to obtain the power by which to arbitrarily and capriciously rule over others.  Therefore, they fall silent for a time and then begin making up excuses for this humanitarian catastrophe.  These excuses place the blame everywhere but on the ideology and policies that they use in their advance towards worldly power.  They never acknowledge that they had previously supported this practical application of their ideology in a specific country, hoping that it will all be forgotten.

They also, over time, have built a predictable track record of support followed by silence followed by excuses as their ideology repeatedly fails miserably to deliver the promised results.  And yet they continue pretending to be the morally superior elite whom we should follow with unquestioning obedience.

It is from here that I intend to begin a reconsideration of our Christian responsibilities with regard to charity, mission and compassion.

iBooks Publish Announcement: A Denomination’s Debacle

I have published my fourth eBook on iBooks.  If you have an iOS device then you can use this link to access.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found on my blog using this link.

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A Denomination’s Debacle

This book is an indictment of the leadership elite who have driven the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), or PCUSA, into an utter debacle.

The most visible aspect of this debacle is the unprecedented loss of membership and churches that occurred between 2011 and 2017. Over that time span the PCUSA experienced a net loss of 601,000 members and 1146 churches, which is almost 30% of its membership and almost 12% of its churches. But these numbers don’t capture the human cost in broken trust, lost faith and shattered relationships that has occurred behind the scenes.

What remains is a denomination dominated by a post-Christian elite who use their power to advance a social gospel that is virtually indistinguishable from the secular Progressive political project. To some readers this charge against the PCUSA leadership will seem to be not just extraordinary, but also unbelievable. This book contains the extraordinary evidence that justifies the charge.

Preface Excerpt

The reader may well ask why I feel compelled to tell this story. I do so for three reasons.

First, the elite denominational leadership has obtained this end under the cloak of purposeful deception. This deception is not found in their policy and theological positions. No, they have aggressively advanced their cause with general honesty. The deception is that they claim to have been doing so as a legitimate expression of orthodox Reformed Christianity. By so doing they have preyed with premeditation and malice upon the trust of the denomination’s parishioners. We will never recover from this spell unless the truth is exposed.

Second, there are still many faithful members and churches in the PCUSA. However, unless they fully understand the forces arrayed against them they will likely eventually succumb. Only if they understand that their presence in the denomination is as a light shining in the darkness can they be protected from the apostasy and heresy that surrounds them. That understanding is what sustained the Apostles and early Christians as they proclaimed the Gospel as isolated individuals and churches in the pagan Roman Empire. The challenge we face is far less extreme. Yet, if we prioritize the comfort and peace of our lives over our responsibilities as followers of Christ even the small courage required will elude us.

Finally, the forces that have corrupted the PCUSA act upon our general culture and thus are not unique to this denomination. Therefore, we can expect that other churches and denominations are struggling under the same theological onslaught as has laid the PCUSA low. Thus this book attempts to explain these forces and how a corrupt leadership can by deception and seduction smuggle false theology into an otherwise orthodox Christian fellowship.

Table of Contents

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The Silence of the Lambs (6)

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Image and caption of the BBC report quoted below.

A Timely and Tragic Confirmation

For anyone who suspected that I’ve been exaggerating or am being overly-dramatic about Christian persecution note that none other than the government of the United Kingdom has confirmed my position.  In fact, their commentary on this issue is significantly more extreme than has been mine thus far.  Here’t the BBC report titled: Christian persecution ‘at near genocide levels‘ (emphasis added):

The review, led by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, estimated that one in three people suffer from religious persecution.
Christians were the most persecuted religious group, it found.  Mr Hunt said he felt that “political correctness” had played a part in the issue not being confronted.

The interim report said the main impact of “genocidal acts against Christians is exodus” and that Christianity faced being “wiped out” from parts of the Middle East.
It warned the religion “is at risk of disappearing” in some parts of the world, pointing to figures which claimed Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5% of the population, while in Iraq they had fallen from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 120,000.
“Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity,” the Bishop wrote.

The report itself has this to say about Christian persecution in the Middle East.

Regional Focus: Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

The persecution of Christians is perhaps at its most virulent in the region of the birthplace of Christianity – the Middle East & North Africa (MENA for short). As mentioned earlier, forms of persecution ranging from routine discrimination in education, employment and social life up to genocidal attacks against Christian communities have led to a significant exodus of Christian believers from this region since the turn of the century.

Regional Focus: South Asia

To the east of the MENA region lie countries with a diversity of majority religions. In nearly all of these there is routine discrimination against Christians which has crossed over into outright persecution in recent years.

Numerous other regional areas are covered, each with its own unique set of religious, cultural and ideological issues that lead to varying levels of Christian persecution.

christian-persecution-1Note that this report also supports my contention that “political correctness” is a key reason that Christians in the West have abandoned their brothers and sisters in Christ to their fates.    Let’s be clear: if true this means that Christians in the West value their own social standing far higher than the actual lives of Christians throughout the world.  I believe that this is at least in part true, and that it is a shameful consequence of our purposeful ignorance and selfish need for social affirmation by a godless secular culture.