Thursday, July 27, 2017

Progress vs. Liberty: Challenging the Politically Correct Cultural Revolution

Augustine the great early church theologian witnessed the downfall of Roman civilization.  He had gone from a harlot, a pleasure seeker, important in the court of Rome, to converting to Christianity.  But things were falling apart, because Rome was about to fall.  In America I often wonder: Are we the Augustines, powerless, watching the fall of the great empire? It was unthinkable then, and unthinkable for us today.  Are we the Jeremiahs, calling in vain in the streets, in synagogues, unheeded, as Babylon lays siege to the city of God?

These are the times that try men's souls. These are the times that drive us mad in speculation and confusion, wondering what does the future hold. What part are we to play?  What is God's will for this era of history?  Do we even have any right to know?

The mass of evil spawning amongst our cities gives one images of apocalypse and a faint of the heart, a sense that all is lost.  My soul trembles and the air rushes out of my lungs, and it seems as if a cold, cold wave threatens to thunder down upon my meek body. Like a starving cripple in the street, utterly ruined and despondent, utterly neutered, useless and unable to even cast a crackling caw to the air, my spirit festers in despair.  Such chaos and confusion in our culture, people don't know which bathroom to use, child sex trafficking and child sacrifice through abortion are rampant, politics are getting even more ugly, the media is biased and crazy, and churches seem to be dividing over the issue of gay marriage as well as other issues.  It's rough out there, and at times we shiver for fear of the future and the world that will be left for our children and grandchildren.  

Yet something within calls, "despair not!"  And something inside rallies like a shining white ray of light, a golden sword of defiance, bright as the sun, and I turn against the wave, suddenly donned in shining armor, strong and brave, blade and shadow brandished, teeth gritted, ready to fight to the death, and that wave of despair vanishes before my eyes, because it was nothing and has gone.

And I realize my true enemy, beyond all the cities, the west coast power houses, the powerful, the rich, the atheists and socialist activists, all the sin, all the multiplying evil and debauchery, I see my struggle is not with man, but with spiritual forces in high places.

I am so small in relation to the swings and tides of history.  Yet I have a part to play, and so do you.  We ought dare to believe that victory is possible.  Or even dare to believe that victory is inevitable.  That is what the patriots believed in 1776.  They believed, even in the face of defeats in 1776, that it was inevitable, their victory was already written.  Could we believe the same today?  

When Churchill fought alone in the depths of world war II, hoping, praying, begging and pleading to get America into the great war, he never gave up. They were defeated at Dunkirk, and driven out. Churchill didn't give up.  Great Britain watched Austria, Poland, and France fall to the Nazis.  They were defeated in North Africa several times. Churchill still refused to even consider negotiating with Hitler. Churchill said, "never, never, never give up."  And "If your going through hell, keep going."

Churchill fought a rear-guard action against the Nazis, fighting, and retreating, fighting and retreating, time and again fleeing at just the right moment to preserve the British military.  Over the skies of Great Britain small bands of RAF fighters climbed to great heights, outnumbered 15 to 1, striking Nazi bombers flying from behind the sun, cutting their enemies to pieces.  They fought, and many died.  The price was high. But they fought the Luftwaffe to a stand-still. They fought to stale-mate. Hitler couldn't cross the channel. The price was dear, and high. But Churchill inspired the people of Britain to fight through intense, defiant speeches to stand against evil.  V for victory.  

The early church father Augustine was there to witness the fall of the Roman empire.  This seemed as impossible to them as the fall of the United States would seem to us now.  The possibility wasn't even considered, yet it happened.  Vandals surged in from every side, barbarians crushed through the gates and Rome in all it's splendor fell to the rust heap of history.  Nothing but empty columns soon enough, upholding nothing.

I believe the United States is so prosperous and filled with personal freedom today because the founders of the country and the framers of the Constitution built a system based upon God-given rights, God-given liberty, and God-given respect for the free will of the individual.  They established freedom of religion, there was no such thing in Europe. If the King was Catholic, guess what, your Catholic!  If the monarchs were protestant, your protestant!  It makes sense really that God would bless a system based upon freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and personal choice.  

The situation with Charlie Gard is instructive. Many assume in the United States that Europe and the rest of the world have the same freedoms we enjoy as Americans.  Not so, friends, not so.  In the United Kingdom doctors have authority over your child in the hospital.  Even as far as to let your child die if they have decided treatment would have a low chance of healing the child.  They wouldn't blink at that.  It's assumed the doctor would know better, in Europe.  In America it would be madness to assume that parents would lose authority over their own children!  What madness!  Even in Canada, they've passed a law recently that if parents were to disagree with their child transitioning from male to female, or female to male, the child could be taken from the parents and placed in foster care.  That is not liberty, that is state-controlled society.  And it's abhorrent to God-given individual liberty.  Our liberty is a sacred gift from God, for all people, and when countries like Canada and the United Kingdom stomp on the rights of parents, they are violating God-given liberty that belongs to those people.  Those are rights government has no right to take away, yet these despots do just that, because a small elite think they know better than the average person on the streets.  

Yet is liberty even slipping away in the United States, in the face of a new foundation-shifting progressivism attempting to sweep away the old and bring in the new?

Progressivism is based around the idea of the ultimate perfectibility of man.  Essentially the progressive ideal is that humanity is fundamentally good, that there is no truth or higher authority, only the material universe, and that societies tend to move toward progress, toward becoming better and better, and the idea is that the old must be constantly tossed aside to bring in the new "progress."  The theory goes though that apparently the majority, the people, are unfit for the task of bringing about this progress, so it falls to a small elite of intellectual masterminds to bring about "progress" through a large administrative state charged with instigating what is best for the people, by the will of the people supposedly, though this administrative state is said, at least by Herbert Croly, John Dewey, and Woodrow Wilson (among others) to operate beyond the direct sovereign will of the people.  Sounds like tyranny to me.

The survival and prosperity of the United States is of course a secondary concern to the Christian, Jesus Christ centered movements in the west.  The primary concern is evangelism, the carrying of the gospel to unmet people groups, most importantly the young and confused.  

But I would argue that the upholding of society is a valuable role for the church to consider as it propagates this gospel.  The gospel travels freely through free countries, and it is largely imprisoned in tyrannical countries.  One of the largest Christian countries in the civilized world is South Korea.  And it's neighbor the tyrannical North Korea is a country where Christianity is not simply persecuted but utterly crushed through mass murder.  The gospel cannot spread like wild-fire in such tyranny and censorship.  It must be allowed to flow freely, through freedom and liberty.  Thus when tyranny is faced in western civilization it ought to be a chief ancillary concern for the church on Earth, and thus a chief goal of the church to uphold liberty, truth, justice, and morality in society.

Most of us already knew that, but for those who are skeptical, there it is.

We must keep the faith in our struggle to uphold free society.  We will be attacked for it, by secularists and by fellow Christians who don't understand what we're doing.  They don't understand that we're fighting for their rights.  They just think we're being mean-spirited and judgmental, and are nasty "Christian right" types who don't understand love.  Little do they know that their liberty, their right to speak the gospel is under attack everyday.  And if we weren't standing for those rights today and everyday, they'd probably already be gone, or nearly gone.  

I'd encourage you to keep praying and appealing to heaven.  John Locke's formula for the last redress against tyrannical government is sound.  Locke's last redress is prayer, appealing to heaven for liberty.  One of the great philosophers who wrote against progressivism feared that once the wheels were turning it might become impossible to reverse course.  Well the wheels are turning, and it seems that immorality, post-modernism, relativism, debauchery, child murder, child sex slavery, political corruption, and so many other evils are multiplying around us like wild-fire.  The barbarians are at the gates one might say, and they're being invited in, this is true in Europe at least.  But the cultural revolutionaries are rising up from within, dissatisfied with the surpluses of unhindered free-markets they seek to destroy and tear down the society that protects them and gives them freedom to speak their destructive ideologies and remake it into a marxist progressive utopia.  Unfortunately such a transformation would not lead to utopia sadly, but to despotic authoritarianism and economic collapse.  So we pray.  So we pray hard.  So we fast and pray.  In fact I'd encourage each of you to begin fasting once a week as part of your prayer life.  It's a time honored practice.  Fasting strengthens the effects of our prayers.  Do not stop praying.  Keep praying, keep appealing to heaven.  And keep taking action.

I see three parts to the political/cultural conflict.  First we've got the moderate establishment, active in both parties.  They've lost a lot of credibility.  They're wealthy, they control the levers of society, and they tend to be the ones plugged in with K-street lobbyists and special interest groups.  They tend to default to the center left, and more or less slowly move the country toward increased spending, bigger government, and more authoritarian laws and regulations. If there are figures who epitomize this genre, they'd be people like Hillary Clinton, John Kasick, Jeb Bush, Nancy Pelosi, Rhence Priebus, and Chuck Schumer. As far as an ideology, they don't really have a strong ideology, perhaps mostly the accumulating of power, wealth, and the bloating of government. 

Second, you've got the progressive left, they tend to control the colleges and public universities, Hollywood, the entertainment industry, late-night talk shows, and most of the media (though much of the media would fall more into the center-left moderate group.)  These are the progressives who seek to redefine marriage, redefine gender, add new genders out of thin air, they advocate for government control of healthcare, the economy, and pretty much everything.  When there is a problem of any kind, these are the ones who demand the government step in to fix it.  They push for the transformation of America into a socialist-like mega-bureaucracy that they hope will usher in a new era of utopia.  Public figures who epitomize this ideology would be Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Van Jones, Rachel Maddow, Justin Trudeau (prime minister of Canada), Barack Obama, Cornel West, and Bill Maher.  They tend to be openly hostile to religious faith of any kind, as are most socialists/marxists/communists/democratic socialists.  The progressive movement I would argue is the most prescient danger to the world right now as it's powerful across Europe and increasingly in the United States.  Their ideological visionaries of the past include Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Herbert Croly, John Dewey, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and many others.  They bear a striking resemblance to the French revolution from history, which was a rising up of elites in the society, attempting to overthrow the shared cultural meanings of the past, which ended in the guillotine, and Napoleon taking total despotic control and attempting to conquer Europe through military force.

Third movement is the most hated in the country, which is the constitutional conservative movement based around the tea party, the freedom caucus, the Heritage foundation, talk radio, and other various conservative voices in the culture.  They tend to be strongest in small town America, as well as Texas, the midwest, and the south.  They advocate a reversal of course, being not simply center left or center right, but advocating a renewal and revival of founding principles based in the American revolution, spelled out in the Constitution and specifically the declaration of independence.  This group advocates for small government, personal liberty, free markets, religious freedom, God-given natural rights, and objective truth.  This is the group growing fastest in the United States right now, and the United Kingdom.  Public figures who advocate for this worldview include people like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, Mark Levin, Robert George, Justin Amash, Jeff Sessions, Ben Shapiro, and others. This group obviously historically can be closely related to the original american revolutionary founders and framers in ideology.  Though more broadly one could list John Locke, John Adams, George Mason, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

Those are the key players on stage right now.  Donald Trump and his administration would obviously fall somewhere between the moderate establishment and the constitutional conservative movement, perhaps in a category of his own, something like populist nationalism.  Hard to say at the moment.  

The battle is being waged each day.  Most people don't even realize it's taking place.  They have no interest in politics.  Most people don't understand the roots of the cultural revolution taking place, and how to counter it.  But we must understand these issues, as Christians, we must be involved on the front-lines of these issues.  An army needs it's jedi knights, hopefully we can be the jedi on these issues, because we understand the deeper spiritual battles taking place.  Remember these surface issues, even down at their roots are rooted not simply in ideologies like cultural Marxism or progressive human perfectibility, they are spiritually rooted issues, based around the struggle between God's people on Earth and sin, the flesh, the pride of life, and the enemy.  Jesus Christ is at work, so is the enemy.  We must seek to see beyond the physical, or even philosophical battles taking place and see the spiritual battle waging around us.  

Action is needed today.  Good men and good women are rising up right now.  We see the evidence of it on social media, Christians and conservatives are increasingly energized and active, carrying the message of Christ to the world.  We see the evidence in media, on the internet, in our streets and public squares, and in the voting booths.  Please continue your diligence, and continue your prayers.  Trust God, and study the scriptures.  I've been reading a great new study Bible called the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible.  Fascinating stuff, very deep, but incredibly fascinating.  Trust the Bible and trust in God.  He is real and active in the world.  

Keep up the good work friends, never give up.  Never, never, never!  Christ is risen!  We shall win the day.  Amen.

French Revolution, beheadings
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