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Erik is a public policy professional and owner of the online training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au The Blog …explores ways to create a sustainable and just community. Explores how that community can be best protected at all levels including social policy/economics/ military. The Book Erik’s autobiography is a humorous read about serious things. It concerns living in the bush, wilderness, home education, spirituality, and activism. Finding Home is available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and all good e-book sellers.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Reversing Christianity's Death Spiral

Christianity's Death Spiral - Challenges and Opportunities

This is a strategy paper I wrote some time ago. I wouldn't normally publish it here but given the nature of the times I decided to anyway (Ed).

Today Christianity is facing near extinction or at least open persecution in the West as a result of a systematic assault that has been ongoing for over one hundred years. We struggle as the first Christians did “Not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers and hosts of wickedness in high places”. These principalities operating on the human mind and the fallen nature have built highways of belief that have re-directed three generations away from God. This has been done with strategic intent by people “whom the Devil hath taken captive to do his will”. Note the Bible does not say that they are bad people – only that they are captive and “they became foolish in their thinking”. Lots of good people have fallen prey to well-intentioned but ultimately harmful ideologies.

Their objection to Christianity is two fold. Firstly they believe, usually unconsciously, in a philosophy of materialism. This philosophy credits itself as the reason for human advancement and therefore sees belief in divinity as an obstacle to progress. The second objection is that Christianity is perceived as oppressive and socially regressive. Social progress therefore requires its removal on both counts. This is not a friendly game. It is the specific purpose of secular humanists to expunge belief in divinity from society. In this struggle they see the church as their enemy and their strategy is to destroy it. As we will see they have enjoyed considerable success.

Our current situation now presents us with great challenges but also great opportunities if we can understand the nature of the times. “Making the most of the time because the days are evil”. This talk finds solutions and opportunities that are available to us within our current resources.

The Demographic Challenge – saving the next two generations
The church across the Western World is dying a slow demographic death and has been since the 1950’s. We need to be honest about how few we really are. One example: according to survey data in Australia and the UK around 50 – 60 per cent of respondents identify as Christian. Dawkins decided to challenge this so he engaged an independent social research firm to ask some of these people some pretty basic questions – questions like ‘do you believe in the resurrection’, ‘do you  pray’, ‘do you look to the Bible for guidance’, ‘do you regularly attend religious services’, can you name the four gospels or the ten commandments? Long story short, in the UK around 15 per cent of the population could in any meaningful sense be considered Christian. I haven’t found reliable numbers for Australia but they certainly would not be higher.  Given that these were pretty basic questions I suggest that the number of people in Australia who Jesus, the apostles or the early church would recognise as Christians is around five per cent or 1/20. To put that in perspective it’s around the same number of people who identify as homosexual or transgender.[1]

Now that’s interesting because after the War at least perhaps half the population were Christians. They did believe in the resurrection and did attend church. So what changed? We defeated the Nazis and the Communists yet three generations of people have walked out of the Church. Across the Western World our numbers are going south and have been consistently for nearly 70 years.

The church has worked very hard to reverse this trend. The Catholic Church had Vatican II. We continued our charitable mission in every corner of the globe. Some churches watered down the message removing references to hell, Satan, judgement, patriarchy and sexual purity. Churches have re-branded. We have bought new modern facilities. We have upbeat music. We have kids programs, youth programs, young adults programs, seniors programs, and many other programs. We have created all sorts of subcultures. We had charismatic renewal. We got our own music and our own media. We got women priests. Some bought into the prosperity doctrine. We got ecumenical. We prayed for revival. We voted Republican. New wave charismatic churches experienced growth but much of this came about by youth defecting from the liturgical churches leaving them grey. We have worked our priests, pastors and other leaders half to death. We have fought the culture wars on abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia and mostly lost. Some of us even dared warn our countries about what would happen if the Muslims were allowed to come in. Some of us even dared challenge Darwinism. For all this we have paid a price. Nevertheless nothing the church has done since the Second World War has prevented our decline and that decline is increasing.

It follows logically that if we just continue our hard work we will become extinct or be relegated to being a persecuted minority sect – a small island of faith in a secular sea. Our enemies know this. This is a problem because we are at our physical and financial capacity and we cannot add anything big to what we are already doing. Our enemies know this too. Consequently, if we don’t want to become extinct and if we want more for our children and grandchildren than persecution we need to re-direct our current effort. All the enemy has to do is keep us busy and distracted. Today I hope we can stop being distracted and think strategically.

Meet Rebecca and Gavin
Those who play or follow competitive team sport will know that defeat is easy but victory never happens by accident. It takes dedicated training, a game plan, and knowledge of your opponents to win. If you don’t train, barely understand the game, and wander onto the field expecting to be treated nicely you will get slaughtered. We are getting slaughtered. To explain why, let me introduce a fictional brother and sister: Rebecca and Gavin.

Rebecca and Gavin grew up in a Christian home and attended church more or less regularly but not as regularly as they attended school or watched TV. When they did attend church they got some liturgy, some singing, and a smattering of Bible teaching. They believed some of it but some didn’t make sense. There was never really a forum to ask questions so they didn’t. Rebecca is 16 and Gavin is 17. They are at high school and starting to make decisions about their lives. They both have friends and a social media life. Gavin has a girlfriend.

From life outside of home and church they have learned these things:
  • Science has proved that the universe created itself including them and all their friends from the big bang because chemistry just works that way
  • The Bible can’t be trusted because it isn’t scientific, it was written for a different time, it isn’t supported by history, and it is full contradictions
  • Christianity isn’t very loving because it doesn’t accept gays, it supports slavery and it says that women are second class to men. It also says that all the other religions are wrong.
  • There is not really right and wrong anyway as long as we accept and love everyone
  • On the other hand life is about competition and survival and is basically unfair so you have to look after yourself
  • All religions are basically the same and so are all cultures and peoples
  • Success in life comes by ‘measuring up’. It’s about how you look, what you have, whether your friends like you, and how much money you make. It’s pretty hard to measure up if you are a Christian because that is seriously daggy and people don’t like you
  • Everyone is having sex and it’s great. If you are not you are missing out. Sex is like food – it pays to dry different things and figure out what you like
  • Having a big sex life brings social status
  • It’s boring to be heterosexual. Its much cooler to be bi or gay
  • Porn is everywhere and you are really daggy if you don’t use it. Some of their friends have taken and shared nude selfies
  • Sex is really OK because there is contraception and if you get pregnant you can terminate it – it’s not really a baby, just a bunch of cells
  • Church is really a place for old people. Society has moved on and left Christianity behind.

From the church they have learned:
  • You have to be a Christian to go to heaven
  • It’s not OK to talk about sex but it is OK to feel guilty about it
  • You have to be nice to people who are not nice to you
  • Jesus paid for your sins but the old testament just doesn’t make sense

Rebecca and Gavin have sat through a lot of sermons. However, despite the sacrifice of many Sundays, they have not been trained in systematic theology and do not really know what Christianity is. Rebecca and Gavin have not been trained in Biblical world view and do not have a Biblical world view, nor do their parents. They do not have a framework that allows them to make sense of social issues. They have no historical reference and no understanding of the Biblical basis of science or civilisation.

They have been heavily indoctrinated with an anti-Christian narrative but they have not been given a counter narrative. They have not been given an answer to the intellectual assault on their faith. Their bodies are screaming at them to have sex and most of their friends are, but there is nowhere safe in the church where they can have an honest conversation about it. In their minds their parents grew up in a different time and may as well be from a different planet. Rebecca and Gavin have not been given a theological framework within which to think intelligently about sexual issues. On some issues they have been told what to believe but not why. They have not been taught how to read and understand the Bible for themselves. They have inherited a faith but don’t really own it. They sense intuitively that being a fundamentalist carries real social and economic penalties. It is also becoming really hard. Unlike their parents and church leaders who married in their early 20’s Rebecca and Gavin will likely not marry until their late 20’s or early 30’s and they are not going to stay virgins for that long. They have no compelling reason to adopt Christianity and they have been given many reasons not to. What will they choose? What will they teach their children?

We now live in a post Christian society that is openly hostile to our beliefs and values. We then hand our children over to the State for 12 years to be indoctrinated into society’s beliefs and values and then let them watch TV for more indoctrination when they get home. Schools are ideological and moral war zones and Universities more so.

Intelligent nations do not send civilians or children into combat but that is precisely what we have done with our kids. We have not trained them. We have not armed them. We have not given them a reason to fight. Why are we surprised when they surrender or defect? In these circumstances capitulation is not cowardice it’s rational behaviour. We will look later at what we can do for the Rebecca’s and Gavin’s in our midst.

Christianity’s death spiral is not surprising. It is the natural result of well-considered strategies that have been advanced in the West since the nineteenth century but more particularly in the post war period and which are now bearing fruit.  

How did this Happen - containment, conflict and hybrid war
One of the key ideological conflicts in the Western World since the 19th century has been that between secular humanism aka materialism, and Judea-Christianity.

I study the means by which nations and empires subordinate each other. Those old enough to remember the US Soviet stand-off will recall that the Soviets could not be overpowered militarily. In consequence the US and NATO sought to contain them, isolate their influence, infiltrate their politics, and ultimately divide and conquer their union. Containment took many forms, not least the arming of militant Jihadists on their borders. As the Cold War has morphed into a new war on the Russian Federation and other non-aligned States the term ‘hybrid’ war has come into use. Hybrid war uses the following techniques: information war aka propaganda, psychological operations, funding of NGOs within the opposing State, mass migration into the opposing State, cultivating a fifth column within the State, exacerbating regional religious and sectarian differences, and economic war through sanctions.  Hybrid war seeks to drive a wedge between the government and its people. When hybrid war weakens and destabilises the target State sufficiently then open war becomes a possibility. Alternatively, the State can simply be taken over. Venezuela and Ukraine are both modern case studies.

These are the tactics that have more or less been used by secular humanism against the church. In the Western World context humanism has not hitherto been strong enough to take-down the church. They could not simply put us in prison, close our institutions, and take our children as they did in communist countries. So instead humanism has adopted a strategy of containment and destabilisation. The aim is to drive the church out of public life, starve it of congregants and funds, and silence its voice.

The first part of the strategy in brief was this:
  • Take-over of institutes of higher learning. This was done by using Darwinism as a vehicle to embed materialism as the foundational ideology of the Universities, institutes, and training centres.
  • Take-over theological institutions. This was done via the ‘school of higher criticism’ and similar deconstructuralist views which imbedded humanist teachers in religions training institutions.
  • Take-over the education system. This was achieved by teaching materialist philosophy as science and teaching it to trainee teachers at university.
  • Take-over the media. This was achieved by developing a number of progressive ideologies whose adherents then targeted positions of influence including teaching, journalism, politics, and the civil service. While these ideologies differ and change over time there are all based in materialism and are anti-Biblical in outlook.

This ideological conflict was generally undeclared but was fought openly across campuses, seminaries, within churches, and in the wider community from the 1960’s onwards. While the church struggled to adjust to the fall-out from the sexual revolution the humanist movement consolidated its grip on the institutions noted above. Once secular humanism was imbedded in the key institutions public consciousness could then be steered away from Christianity. This would take time but over a couple of generations the trend would clearly be in one direction. Along the way humanists would make the most of our genuine vulnerabilities – our mistreatment of single mothers, our alleged mistreatment of Aboriginal people, our marginalisation of GLBTI people, and the Vatican’s policy of systematically protecting pedophile priests. At the same time humanists in the media and education system would ignore or minimise our positive contributions and charitable works. This created a propaganda narrative which, like all good propaganda, contained some truth.

Once humanist beliefs were firmly embedded in the social unconscious, humanists could now move from a position of strength. Where Communism openly demanded subservience to the State humanism chose a more subtle tactic to achieve the same goal. We are now in the early stages of the second part of the humanist strategy which is this:
  • Borrowing from the Christian concepts of equality and love demand that this means unconditional acceptance of any life-style, belief system or behaviour that people wish to engage in (other than Judeo-Christianity of course).
  • Use the militant gay movement to wedge the church.
  • Make gay relationships legally equal to traditional marriage.
  • Having established legal equality use the legal system to destroy churches, businesses, careers, and institutions that do not accept the ‘tolerance’ agenda.
  • Openly introduce brainwashing and recruitment courses into State schools and make them mandatory in all schools.
  • Remove children from their parents should they restrict their children’s ‘education’.

This is now happening in jurisdictions where gay marriage has been legalised. There are numerous examples including:
  • Subpoena of sermons for vetting against a gay rights agenda by the State
  • Sacking people from university and from their work place for posting on facebook that they oppose gay marriage
  • Suing cake makers and wedding supply businesses that refuse to service gay marriages
  • Withholding state funding from adoption agencies that refuse to adopt to gay couples
  • The ‘Safe Schools’ program and similar programs in other countries that propagandise and recruit children
  • Teaching homosexual marriage to young primary school children
  • Denying parents the right for their children to ‘opt out’ of this indoctrination program
  • Mandating the same curricula for independent schools and home educators
  • Defining Biblical passages that don’t agree with the humanist agenda as ‘hate speech’ with corresponding penalties.

This is the beginning of the next big secular push that is currently disguised as tolerance. The objective of this pressure is compel Christians to decide between an authentic faith or a socially acceptable gospel. In this way humanists will create an official acceptable form of Christianity that is ‘tolerant’ and thus stripped of spiritual meaning or historical truth, and outlaw the Christianity known to the early Church. This is precisely what the Communists did in China. In this they will be helped by their allies within the church and some Christians who do not have a Biblical world view and are vulnerable to humanist indoctrination.

Unlike the first strategy of containment this second strategy attempts a formal take-down of Christianity in the West. It thus forces the next generation to choose between marginalisation/persecution or humanism. What would Rebecca and Gavin do?

Passing on the Torch – solutions for the young and future generation
The above is not a cause for panic but for sober reflection and clear thinking. This basic conflict is over 100 years old. Long term intergenerational strategies begun in the 1970’s are now coming to fruition. There will be no quick victory. The losses of the last 100 years will not be swept away by some sudden revival. This is an intergenerational struggle for the survival of Christianity and for the light of the gospel. It therefore requires an intergenerational perspective.

The good news is that the problem suggests the solution. What could we do to equip people like Rebecca and Gavin to be Christians in their world?

Solution #1 Preach less, teach more, engage.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a group of people should sit in a room every Sunday while a man with a microphone preaches to them. Jesus did not say: “Go into all the world and preach great sermons”. Rather, the first Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to prayer”.
Fifty hours of teaching is enough to address all of the deficiencies identified for Rebecca and Gavin in 12 months of regular church attendance. No addition effort or resource is required, only a change of focus. However additional activities could include a survey of the congregation to gage their current level of knowledge, a safe on-line forum to talk about sexual issues, training in apologetics in home groups, and open discussion forums with youth and other leaders for those who want to.

Remember that what Rebecca and Gavin lack is:
  • An understanding of why they should believe the Bible
  • Knowledge of how to understand and interpret the Bible for themselves
  • A systematic theology
  • A Biblical world view/framework within which to work out social issues
  • A safe forum where they can have a meaningful discussion about sex and sexuality
  • A credible apologetics – answers to the attacks on/objections to their faith

Addressing these deficiencies in the manner suggested will offend:
  • Christians who have an unbiblical world view
  • Traditionalists who can’t handle an adult conversation about sex or other issues
  • Church leaders who are used to telling people what to believe but not used to engaging in genuine dialogue with their congregation
  • People who don’t want to be challenged or grow
  • People who are offended by the notion that we are in a war of extinction and we are losing
..and that’s OK. In a broadly Christian society there is no need to have hard conversations or grapple with difficult issues because society broadly shares our values. Those days are over and we are now in a hostile post Christian culture. If the next generation is not trained their faith won’t survive. If people are not OK with that let them leave.

Solution #2 Preach martyrdom
Currently, according to Patriarch Ciril, a Christian dies for their faith on average every five minutes. However, in the West we tip toe around trying to make Christianity sound appealing and not offend anyone. Jesus said: ”He who does not take up his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” That is why baptism symbolises death and resurrection. While not everybody gets to be physically martyred everybody gets to die to themselves. Young people are looking for a cause, for something to believe in and something to live for. Post modernism presents them with a valueless soup.

This presents great opportunity for the church if we dare to say what Jesus said.

From a practical point of view people who are not equipped with a martyrdom mindset will be unlikely to pass on their faith when things get rough. This may require a shift in focus for some leaders but requires no additional effort.

Solution #3 Speak to economic concerns
People listen to the things that matter to them and primary among these is money. Sadly, national elections are fought primarily on economic management. The economic outlook for young people is bleaker than it was for me, and my outlook was bleaker than it was for my parents. It is becoming increasingly difficult for young people to form households. If we believe that the family is the God ordained foundational unit of society, and if we believe that children need the love and care of a mother and father, then we need to advocate for those policies that make the family unit economically viable. It is a falsehood to separate moral and economic issues. It is similarly a falsehood to pretend that the institutional separation of church and State somehow removes the God ordained prophetic role of the church, or should prevent the church speaking into public life.

In the emerging economic conditions of the Western World the Biblical family of mother, father, children and any other relatives is not an economically viable unit. Both parents must work and care of children must therefore be outsourced to State or private care givers. A shift has occurred where women, once denied the opportunity to work, are now denied the opportunity to not work and to parent their young. This is exploitation of women and is unbiblical.

Therefore, the church has a duty to speak about those policies that directly impact on the economic viability of families. They are:
  • Housing affordability and associated policy issues including negative gearing, foreign ownership, public housing construction, and immigration
  • Penalty rates
  • Weekend leave
  • Casualisation of the workforce
  • Student debt
  • Privitisation of education and health care
  • Hidden unemployment and underemployment

Speaking on these issues will re-position the church as a credible stakeholder in society – a place of ideas rather than outdated dogma as is currently perceived. The Christian based political parties are either not addressing these issues or advocating laissez-faire economic policies that make the Biblical family unit non-viable. That is not a reason for the church itself to be silent. The church can speak to these issues and remain non-partisan.

Solution #4 Minister to the victims of the cultural revolution
The premise of humanism is that the greatest human happiness is found in the greatest human freedom. This is true to an extent. However, we understand that true freedom cannot be realised without moral boundaries. When we minister to the victims of the ‘rights’ movement we subtly undermine that movement. When we minister to women traumatised by abortion we undermine the abortion narrative. When we minister to people wanting to break free from unhealthy relationships or wishing to exit the gay movement, we undermine those movements. When we minister to victims of the sex industry we de-legitimise that industry. We will never get a fair hearing in the press but by exposing ‘the unfruitful works of darkness’ we can present a compassionate alternative to our youth.

The Bigger Picture - seeing problems as opportunities
Offering thought-out and principled solutions to real problems is both the loving thing to do for the community and the pragmatic thing to do if we want to be taken seriously. Therefore every serious problem presents an opportunity. This does take time and effort and our resources are few. Therefore I will suggest two areas we might best turn our attention to.

Principled Approach to Truth and Freedom
Freedom around the world is on the decline. From teachers in the UK threatened with anti-terrorism legislation for teaching traditional marriage to total citizen surveillance and warrantless SWAT searches in the US. Concentrated media ownership presents us with a distorted view of the world and those in power consistently lie to us. If we care about the truth and if we believe that there is a connection between truth and freedom we need to be truth seekers and truth speakers.

Why are we not speaking out in support of Julian Assagne and supporting Wikileaks? Why do we not take up a church offering to support his ministry? Why do we not point out that the illegal invasion of Iraq led to the creation of ISIS and the enslavement of Christians in Iraq and Syria? Why can we not point out that ISIS is supported by elements of both NATO and the US? Why do we not support President Putin in his principled stand against homosexual indoctrination of children in Russia? Why do we meekly accept the usurpation of parental rights when it comes to education and values? Do we even bother to find out what is done in our name? Why have we left it to the libertarian right and elements of the social left to speak truth about power? John the Baptist didn’t and nor should we.

Biblical Economy
I mentioned economic concerns previously. In the nineteenth century, Christian activists targeted slavery as the great social and economic evil of their time. In my parents time Communism was the evident threat. Today in the West the great social and economic evil is the monetary system itself.

We should be living in a time of unparalleled wealth and opportunity and in some ways we are. However, right now there are 50 million people in the US who suffer ‘food insecurity’ and another 20 million or so homeless. Real unemployment in the US and EU is around 20 per cent. Ukraine and Greece are failed States. The economy in most of the developed world is stagnant and social problems from homelessness to drugs to mental illness to overcrowded prisons are growing apace. In the US business closures exceed business start-ups. A lost generation is developing.  This is not coincidence. It is not an act of God. This has happened because the economic management of those countries is no longer founded on Biblical principles.

That presents the church with a generational opportunity to speak answers to people’s pain.

In brief:
  • The financial system has been largely de-linked from the real economy
  • Because money is too easily created and no longer based on anything real there is too much money in the system
  • Debt levels are excessive
  • The shadow economy of speculative instruments is orders of magnitude bigger than the monetary economy which is bigger than the real economy
  • Public money has been shoveled into the banks which created the financial crisis to be re-cycled to create the same problems
  • The net effect of all this has been to suck wealth upwards from the productive economy to the unproductive fraction of one per cent of the population who make money by moving money around
  • The system itself is now structurally flawed and inherently unstable.
  • This makes another economic crash or series of crisis inevitable.

For example: the national debt of the US Federal government stands at US$20 trillion exceeding GDP for the first time since the Second World War but this does not take into account the debts of State governments. Private debt in the US is around 48 trillion or around two and a half times GDP.[2]  Little if any of this debt has delivered growth but it has made some people wealthy. The Kotch brothers have more wealth than the bottom combined 200 million Americans in part by investing in the $US 700 trillion dollar global derivatives market. [3] Four Americans own as much wealth as the bottom 40 per cent of the US population. Globally the wealthiest one per cent has more wealth than the rest of the world combined. Specifically 62 people own more wealth than 3.6 billion of the world’s poorest. [4] Because wealth is sucked up rather than trickled down it cannot stimulate the economy. On a Biblical note, greed is listed as a sin equal to any sexual wrongdoing.

People know the system is broken and they are afraid but there is no counter narrative, no explanation of the current model and no credible alternative. We can provide an alternative.

It is highly relevant that as banks collapsed in 2008 and governments stepped in to prevent a bank run, Muslim banks and those that did business with the Amish prospered. The Amish banks prospered because the Amish only invest in or borrow against productive tangible assets. They do not speculate – period. The Muslim banks prospered for similar reasons – all loans are backed by tangible assets. In Bible times wealth was measured in arable land, jewels and rare metals – things with tangible timeless worth. Our current policy of living on credit not savings, of printing money backed by nothing and investing it in speculative instruments based on nothing, is destroying the West. Our US economic model which has been largely exported is a Ponzi scheme that trashes the real economy and funnels wealth upwards to the unproductive fraction of one per cent of the population. We can offer an alternative model. Looking past the ‘left right’ political divide we need to point to the inherently flawed nature of the monetary system itself and promote a Biblical alternative. In the Australia context that would involve:
  • Requiring all companies doing business in Australia to be registered in Australia and to pay tax in Australia
  • Prohibiting the sale of any public share within 12 months of purchase
  • Prohibiting the creation, sale or exchange of any form of financial derivative or derivative contract
  • Requiring deposit taking institutions to pay a rate of interest on savings deposits which is not less than CPI.
  • Requiring all loans to be backed by a tangible asset or business, equivalent to a minimum per cent of the loan
  • Legislating precious metals as currency
  • Facilitating community exchange and barter
  • Debt forgiveness where the debt was not properly secured and cannot reasonably be re-paid

Speaking to these issues brings the church from fringe advocacy of disadvantaged groups back to the center of public discussion. This is both the loving thing to do for the community and the pragmatic thing to do if we want to be taken seriously.

Let go of Unhelpful Beliefs
I don’t want to get into an argument about theology but some beliefs are clearly unhelpful and are best left behind. Let’s look at them quickly:

Fatalism is characteristic of Eastern religion and some variants of Islam but has no place in scripture. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David, John the Baptist – all were activists. They took positive action in accordance with their values and God’s will. Their belief in God’s sovereignty did not prevent them engaging in struggle and it should not prevent us. How can it be that in our private lives most of us immunise our children, use contraception, and insure our possessions, but when it comes to public life we contend that God is in control so we don’t have to be concerned?

End Times
Another form of fatalism is the belief that the end is nigh so all we have to do is hang-on and wait for it. This sort of fatalism is unhelpful and disempowering. By all means let’s read Revelation but some things belong to God and some things are ours to do.

Religion is a private matter
Humanists contend that religion is a private matter and has no place in public life. This attitude is sometimes also found in the church. It is a good example of Christians wanting to be fair and tolerant but not understanding either the Bible or the World.  All public policy, all political and economic decisions, are based on values. All people participate in public life based on their values. Public life is competitive. As Christians we compete in public life based on our values. Others compete in public life based on theirs. The argument that religion is a private matter is a sleight of hand. It means that non-Christians have carte blanch to push their agendas but Christians have no right to promote theirs. Jesus said that we should be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Let’s not fall for this trick.

We have to obey secular authority
I am not sure what Elijah would have made of this doctrine when he massacred 400 prophets of Baal then fled queen Jezebel. I am not sure what Christians living through China’s cultural revolution under communism would have made of it. During the American civil war Christians killed one another over union verses confederacy and no one really knows whose side God was on. Our Westminster system of democracy came about through the English civil war of 1642 in which the legitimate king of England claimed the divine right of Kings and a bunch of Presbyterians rebelled and cut his head off. In reality the notion that we should be good little citizens and do what we are told has no basis in scripture or history. Indeed every form of social progress from Magna Carter onwards has happened through rebellion. Our spiritual ancestors were fed to the lions for refusing to burn incense to Caesar. Romans says that we obey secular authority because God’s will is that those in authority should punish evil and reward good. The writer of Romans tells us to get along with all people and give those in authority their due. This is salient advice. It is also what Jesus did. Our attitude should be one of respect and cooperation.  However, it ceases to be relevant when those in authority reward evil and punish good as they did in Elijah’s day. I am not talking about political differences. I am talking out good and evil. We do not owe allegiance to evil.

We are in an intergenerational war of extinction. We need to train, we need to pray, and we need to take the initiative where it is available. God is not dead and neither are we. We live in dangerous times but great dangers present great opportunities to those who are thoughtful, resourceful and strategic. We love those who have chosen to be our ideological enemies enough to not let them prevail.

[1] This is based on a comparison of figures. 54 per cent of UK census respondents identified as Christians. Of those the number that identified with actual definitional beliefs – the physical resurrection of Jesus, accepting him as ‘Lord and Saviour’, belief in his teaching, the power of prayer, and regular gathering with other believers – is around 15 per cent. By their nature these figures are rubbery and Australia is arguably a more secular culture that Britain.
For sources see here: https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/2921/Religious-and-Social-Attitudes-of-UK-Christians-in-2011.aspx

1 comment:

  1. Seriously dude - you need to write (another) book.