Archives For Political Theology

With over 2000+ years of thought, action and in some cases really good ideas, that simply just crashed and burned, Christian history is rich and vibrant. If we ignore this history and the theological enquiry attached to it, we turn our backs on faith, heritage and hard lessons learnt along the way.

The old saying still reigns:

‘I believe in order to understand’  (St. Augustine, & Anselm of Canterbury)

Unfortunately, we live in a ‘Just get me to the chorus’ era:

 ‘’Give me the theological truth – but if it doesn’t fit in a MEME that I can like, share or wave passive aggressively at my not-yet-Christian friends on Facebook, I don’t want to know about it’’.

Don’t get me wrong. Minus their manipulative passive aggressive abuse, I think MEMEs, are overall, useful. They provide a form of art-therapy for adults. Plus, the simplicity of a meme can be inspiring, and the art that goes with it can be soothing. Memes have a place.

This isn’t a beat up of that genre.

Like it or not. Christians should be interested in theology, because every Christian is in some way or another, called to have a thinking faith. As Stanley Grenz put it: ‘theology is called forth by faith’ (Theology for the community of God, 1994, p.9)

In truth, engaging with difficult reading isn’t easy, but doing so does us good.

We are shaped by the challenge and its outcome. This could be likened to carefully navigating our way up a mountain, stopping to enjoy the view, then employing the same caution on our way back down.

If we sense that the subject matter is ‘’beyond us’’, it’s more than likely a manifestation of our impatience, which seeks to impale us on the stake of ignorance. [Insert Jesus’ words about – Doves, wisdom, snakes, wolves, and sheep (Mt.10:16).]

This apathy towards learning wounds us, not just individually, but collectively,  because ‘theology is done in community’ (Grenz, 1994 p.9).

In his ‘Aids to Reflection’, poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge stated:

An unreflecting Christian walks in twilight among snares and pitfalls!…because he will not kindle the torch which his Father had given into his hands, as a mean of prevention, and lest he should pray too late.’ 

Likewise American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, protested the circumventing of this imperative. In his 1843 work ‘The celestial railroad’, Hawthorne reworks Bunyan’s pilgrim’s progress. The result is an attempt to tackle the dangers associated with taking short-cuts in a faith that seeks understanding.

In a brief exposition of Hawthorne’s Celestial Railroad, Jean Elshtain pointed out that

‘counter to Reformed orthodox doctrine, some 19th Century theologians suggested that there were short cuts to heaven[…]We live in a time of shortcuts […] We want to pave the way as easy as we can’.  This is evidenced by ‘social media which promises a painless way to get community, human identity and democracy’[…] ‘where techno-cyber consumerism makes it easy to have hatefulness confirmed rather than challenged.’

Elshtain goes on to suggest that this is indicative of Hawthorne’s theological critique of society:

‘Hawthorne’s work presents the promises of ease and convenience which are made by the antagonist, ‘’Mr. Smooth it away’’ as a stark contrast to the striving difficulty of ‘’Christian’’ on Bunyan’s road’.

On the surface this could be translated as progressive versus conservative, and it wouldn’t be a complete stretch. This is because they bridge between Hawthorne’s tale and current sociopolitical realities of a technological society.

We can draw a contrast between a pilgrim’s progress and the journey undertaken by progressive pilgrimsThere is a difference between the progress of pilgrims and pilgrims who call themselves progressive.The former is a dynamic, ‘pilgrim people’ (Karl Barth CD.IV.4:40), critically processing ideology through theological enquiry. The latter are a passive people, who have already surrendered their theology to ideology, and doing their best to justify their surrender.

The distinction between a pilgrim’s progress and that of a progressive pilgrim, is fleshed out by Elshtain further:

 ‘The old image of a pilgrim carrying their sins on their back  is made superfluous. This is seen in Hawthorne’s narrative critique, when people were told that there is a super hot railway that would get them there quick, without all the messy stuff about sin, remorse, penance, meaningful membership and so on’ (2013).

Like the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46), the pilgrim and the progressive pilgrim are heading the same direction. However, as in Hawthorne’s narrative, not only do they travel different paths, tragically, upon arrival, the progressive pilgrim finds that their destination is in complete contrast to that of their neighbour’s. They find out that you cannot just rock up to heaven and demand to be let in (see Matthew 7:21 and John 14:6).

This distinction between a pilgrim’s progress and the journey undertaken by progressive pilgrims, is upheld by Hawthorne. His description of the advantage claimed by progressive pilgrims, over the journey taken by those who follow Christian through the Wicket Gate in the Pilgrim’s Progress is as follows:

‘’The passengers being all comfortably seated, we now rattled away merrily, accomplishing a greater distance in ten minutes than Christian probably trudged over in a day. It was laughable, while we glanced along, as it were, at the tail of a thunderbolt, to observe two dusty foot travellers in the old pilgrim guise, with cockle shell and staff, their mystic rolls of parchment in their hands and their intolerable burdens on their backs. The preposterous obstinacy of these honest people in persisting to groan and stumble along the difficult pathway rather than take advantage of modern improvements, excited great mirth among our wiser brotherhood. We greeted the two pilgrims with many pleasant gibes and a roar of laughter; whereupon they gazed at us with such woeful and absurdly compassionate visages that our merriment grew tenfold”.

Pilgrims who entered through the Wicket Gate are mocked, taunted and physically assaulted by their ”wiser brothers and sisters”.

This also finds traction in Christian history with what is called the ‘downgrade (downhill slope) controversy’. This was when English Baptist Pastor, Charles Spurgeon, choose to resign from the Baptist Union in 1887 (Iain Murray ‘The Forgotten Spurgeon’, 1966:161). He issued a reasoned response against the new phenomena of altar calls, liberal protestant emotionalism and an excessive focus on personal experience. Spurgeon’s refusal was met with all forms of opposition, and yet remained steadfast:

Perhaps there is relevance here for the Church today? In 1889, Spurgeon wrote:

‘Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin…should truth be sold to keep up a wider fellowship? The day will come when those who think that they can repair a house, which has no foundations, will see the wisdom of quitting it altogether. All along we have seen that to come out from association with questionable doctrines is the only possible solution of a difficulty which, however it may be denied, is not to be trifled with by those who are conscious of its terrible reality’…it might be more satisfactory to take the whole house down, and reconstruct it.  
(Murray citing Spurgeon, 1966:144-155)

Interestingly, Robert Shindler, a friend of Spurgeon’s, wrote:

‘’in some cases, it is all too plainly apparent [that] men are willing to forego the old for the sake of the new. But commonly it is found in theology, that that which is true is not new, and that which is new is not true.” (‘The Sword and the Trowel’, March 1887)

Let us remember where, what and who our lives are aligned to serve. God can still speak out of the chaos in a whirlwind (Job 38:1 & 40:6). If He chooses too, we would do well to listen, understand and gratefully obey. Instead of opting for the empty progressive promises of Mr.Smooth-it-away, and Hawthorne’s ‘Celestial train’, may we have the courage to persevere and make progress as Bunyan’s Christian did.


References:

Barth, K. 1969 Church Dogmatics Vol.IV The Doctrine of Reconciliation, part 4 Hendrickson Publishers

Elshtain, J.B 2013, State of Democracy Maxwell School lecture sourced 16th June 2013

Grenz, S.J. 1994 Theology for the community of God Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids MI. USA

Hawthorne, N. 1843 The Celestial Railroad sourced from http://www.nathanielhawthorne.com/short-stories/The-Celestial-Railroad.html

Murray, I. 1966 The Forgotten Spurgeon Banner of Truth Trust USA

©Rod Lampard, 2013

In August, Iranian refugee and former Muslim, Ramin Parsa was arrested for trespassing {*coughs* for breaking blasphemy laws}, while privately sharing his testimony about becoming a Christian, in a Mall of America, shopping centre in Minnesota.

Tyler O’Neil from PJ media reported that while Ramin, now a Christian Pastor living in Los Angeles, was sharing his testimony,

“Another woman who was not part of the conversation went and complained to the security. The guard came and said, ‘You can’t solicit here.’ He then told them “we were not soliciting”. He just said, ‘Bye,’ and walked away.” After Parsa, the pastor, and his son grabbed some coffee, “three guards were waiting for me and said, ‘You must leave now.’ I asked why. They said, ‘You’re soliciting.’ I said, ‘No, we are not.’ I was explaining to them that I’m from out of state, I’m here as a guest, I’m here to see the mall.”
“That’s when they grabbed my coffee, handcuffed me, and took me to the underground mall gaol,” he recalled. “They patted me down, handcuffed me to a metal chair that was bolted to the ground. They refused to give me water, refused to let me go to the restroom except right before the police came. When I was taken to gaol after 3 hours. I was hungry and thirsty.”

In a video aired on Facebook, Ramin Parsa gave a detailed response about his encounter, talking about the dangers of creeping shari’a law, how Christians should be aware of Shari’a creep and how necessary it is to become pro-active in answering it. Parsa also mentioned his support for Donald Trump’s travel ban on Somalia, saying “Imagine if these people [Somalian Islamists] get into power [in the United States]. They don’t respect the constitution and the bill of rights, and American values. They come here to oppress. So…now I understand why there’s a [travel] ban on Somalia, which is a good thing….I believe that true refugees are Christians and other minorities in Muslim countries living under Islamic Shari’a Law.”

According to Parsa’s website, he was ‘raised in Iran, in a Shiite Muslim family. He lived under Islamic Law and was taught to practice strict religious traditions. After his father died, Parsa began to question Islam and the existence of God.

He heard about the gospel, disagreed with it, but became curious. Parsa gave himself to God, asking to be shown the way forward and came to Jesus Christ as a result. He was later arrested for handing out bibles. Then stabbed, causing him to move from Iran to Turkey.’ He came to America for Bible College and now works as Pastor of Redemptive Love Ministries International.

PJ Media also reported that Ramin Parsa’s pre-trial is for December 11th, where, while hopeful for an acquittal, “if prosecutors don’t drop the charges, his case will go to trial.”


Originally published at www.caldronpool.com 4th December 2018 under the same title.

Bassist and Co–founding member of KISS, Gene Simmons, did at least two interviews between January and September 2017. In those interviews he gave some surprising  responses to questions about Donald Trump. I stumbled onto these while scrolling through Youtube. I was looking to corroborate a claim that Gene Hackman said, “Donald Trump could be the best President yet.”

So far Gene Hackman’s comments remain “fake news”, and perhaps are a product of wishful thinking.  I get why people are sharing the claims, even though the source does not reference where they go the information from. (The reason for why I won’t share it here)

There’s a lot of people looking for something sane to come from Hollywood celebrities that doesn’t involve demonising the current President, and those who support him. Gene Simmons did what I haven’t heard a lot of celebrities do. He pointed his interviewers to proof of performance. Simmons’ response was well thought out and non-reactionary.

See for yourself:

CNBC:

Sirius XM:


#rockon

If Australia’s Prime Minister is serious about fairness, he’ll preserve the right to a conscientious objection to SSM; the right for people to hold the view, and teach their kids that marriage is between a man and a woman; and that those children have a right to equal access to their biological father and mother.

As I have hopefully made clear in the written contributions I’ve made to this national debate, I see the issues as a matter of social justice. The “no” vote has been about defending truth, liberty, fraternity, science, and even equality, from unbalanced ideological servitude.

The State wants the church to stay out of politics, but the Church is being encroached on by the State. The people want the church to stay out of politics, but it paints their political slogans on church walls, violently interferes with gatherings and misuses the Bible to manipulate or bash Christians into submission. The people want the church to stay out of politics, but they bring politics into the church, demanding a pledge of allegiance to systems that perpetuate hatred and inequality, behind a veil of tolerance, love and equality.

None of this is new, it’s the very same thing that was perpetuated by Nazis and Communists, as French theologian and Marxist scholar, Jacques Ellul noted:

‘But I’ve heard such talk a thousand times, from fascists as well as Stalinists: “You have no right to judge from the outside; first you must join up, sympathize totally with our aims, and then you can talk.” BUT that is just when one can no longer say anything! The experience of those who looked horrified, in hindsight, on Hitler’s or Stalin’s time confirms this: “How could we have taken part in that?” they ask.’
(Ellul, Jesus & Marx 1988:146)[i]

It’s a clear double standard when the LGBTQ and their supporters can freely criticise and push others to refuse service to those who disagree, then turn around and deny those in disagreement, the right to the same free speech and freedom of conscience. That’s not equality.

The line is blurring. Christians who support SSM have confused love of God with love of neighbour, and as such have compromised their neighbour, through a false [Marxist/materialist] claim that says we should place love for neighbour over and above God.

This is what is called horizontal theology. It is grounded in the errors and perversity of natural theology; the implicit claim that by blindly loving  our neighbour we can reach God through our neighbor. This encourages me to treat my neighbor as though that neighbor was a second revelation of God. The kind of ideas that lead to the false worship of Kings, rulers, prophets and objects throughout history. In short, the creature is worshipped in place of the Creator, because the Creator has been confused with His creature.

We are to be Christlike in our treatment of our neighour; have Christ in mind when we go to serve our neighbour, but we are grossly mistaken if we think that Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40 “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”, means that our neighbor replaces Christ.

This misunderstanding leads is to works-righteousness. It leads us away from the righteousness of God that is graciously placed on us by the dynamic love of God. Grace that is active, free and sufficient, in the work carried out by the obedience of Jesus Christ.

We reject grace, when we reject Christ and put our neigbour in His place. This is because we reject God’s invitation to relationship. It denies God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, “who is the way, the truth and the life”[ii] it denies the fact that life with God, begins with, God with us. Christless Christianity is an oxymoron.

Love is not love, God is love. That “they will know us by our love”[iii] is true, but that love involves the freedom to give both a reasoned “yes” and “no”. The alternative view confuses love with niceness, sloth and indifference.

What this does is turn Christianity into a numb universal ethic of niceness – a lukewarm empty shell; a stoic idol built to reflect and cater to the feelings of men and women.

The ethic of universal niceness is false and incompatible with a thinking faith that commands us to have no god before God; to “test all things, and hold fast to the good[iv]”; to discern and ultimately lean not “on our own understanding, but on God.’’ (Proverbs 3:5-7). To lean not on an abstract or vague idea of God, nor on a god created by human imagination, but on the tangible gracious grip of God, as the One who grasps us and testifies to us about Himself, in space and time, through covenant and in Jesus the Christ.

Faith seeks understanding.

Our response to this is found in prayer and gratitude. Actions; grounded in word, deed and attitude that reciprocates God’s selfless movement towards us, in covenant, manger, cross, empty tomb and beyond.

Being super nice has the veneer of Christian love, but it’s moral therapeutic deism at best, practical atheism (Christian in name only) at worst. This is the kind of thing that fed the blood and soil ideology of Nazism, and the Marxist ‘deification of the poor, over against THE POOR One’ (Ellul, 1988), through the dictatorship of the proletariat. Not that we should ignore the poor, but that we shouldn’t deify them to further the self-interests of those who take it upon themselves to designate who the oppressed and the oppressors are. For all have fallen short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23).

For those who voted “no” in 2017, there will be a need to take time to carefully consider the way forward.

If we are to be true to this “no” and the love behind it, this will involve having to rise and once again say to the world that we refuse to surrender or kneel before anyone but God, and His revelation in Jesus Christ.

To once again say to the world that love of neighbour is not love of God, nor should we confuse the two. For to do so is to make a god of our neighbour, and make love for neighbour, the means of salvation. Love of neighbour is grounded on and in our love of God, without the latter we are not free and therefore, we cannot truly do the former. We will be doomed to serving our own selfish interests.

Jesus is the way, tolerance isn’t. Jesus is the way, love is love isn’t. Jesus is the way, means that no man or woman, good work or intention, super niceness, or feeling is or can be. The true path to freedom, the only path to salvation is the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. This cannot be reversed. It is decisive. The path is set.  #bewaretheauctioneers

In light of the changes to come, Christians are to do what they are called to do, centre everything in Jesus Christ. To lay every issue before the cross, following Paul’s words in Romans 12, clinging especially to those which encourage us to ‘…rejoice in hope, be patient in trial, be constant in prayer.’

This is bolstered by Karl Barth’s reminder:

‘The Church is either a missionary Church or it is no church at all. Christians are either messengers of God [with or without words] to both Jew and Gentile, or else they are not Christians at all.’ [v]

Far too many churches, ministers and Christian scholars are staying silent, waiting to see who wins what society calls “the culture wars”, so that they can back the winner. That’s a coward’s gamble. It’s an action that they may one day come to regret. Now is the time. Speak life. Speak truth in love. Set your eyes towards Christ, because inhaled grace ignites.

Kyrie Eleison.


References:

[i] Ellul, J. 1988 Jesus & Marx: From Gospel to Ideology Wipf and Stock Publishers

[ii] John 14:6, ESV

[iii] John 13:35 & Matthew 7:16 ESV

[iv] 1 Thess. 5:21, 1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 John 4:1 ESV

[v] Barth, K. Church Dogmatics 3.3, The Divine Preserving (p.64)

(Updated and edited from an article posted in November, 2017, called, To Everything There Is a Season: Deifying Our Neighbour Isn’t One of Them. Also published on The Caldron Pool, 20th November, 2018.

Photo Credit: Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018.

The speech delivered by Emmanuel Macron, at the Armistice Centenary this week, was a carefully targeted rejection of Donald Trump and his popular platform.

French President Emmanuel Macron remarked that

“The old demons are rising again, ready to complete their task of chaos and of death. Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. In saying, ‘Our interests first, whatever happens to the others’, you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it live, that which causes it to be great and that which is most important: its moral values.” [source]

Macron was referring to hyper-nationalist imperialism, regarded as one of the primary causes of WW1. The French leader also alluded to its like minded cousin, which ignited WW2: ethnocentric nationalism and fascist imperialism.

The connection made between the contents of Macron’s speech, and the American leader, are not hard to miss. In October, Donald Trump publicly separated himself from Globalism, and declared himself to be a nationalist.

This also rides on the back of Donald Trump’s speech at the United Nations in September, where he gave a resounding “no” to Globalist Imperialism.

Yet it wasn’t Macron’s remarks about Nationalism, or the inferences behind it that prompted the push back from Trump on Twitter the next day.

The Trump/Macron exchanges are fuelled by the French leader’s claim, made in early November, that Europe needed to protect itself, not just from China and Russia, but also from one of their longest, strongest, and most supportive allies, the United States.

Even German chancellor, Angela Merkel came out in support of Macron, saying

The times when we could rely on others is past. We have to look at the vision of one day creating a real, true European army. According to the Guardian, Merkel added that a European Army would be a “compliment to [the largely U.S. tax-payer funded] NATO.”

Via Twitter, Trump gave public criticism of Macron’s claim, stating, that it

‘was very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidises greatly!”

In response to Trump’s tweets, Macron shot back with:

“France was a U.S. ally but not a vassal state…at every moment of our history, we were allies, so between allies, respect is due.”

Instead of answering Trump, Macron threw out a red-herring. Avoiding Trump’s question, Macron decided to cheapen American sacrifice, good-will and support for the maintenance of peace and safety in Europe, by reducing America’s relationship with Europe to the context of a Suzerain vassal treaty, where overlords demand fealty.

Macron’s meaning is clear enough: “Americans see themselves as feudal overlords, and have a fascist dictator who seeks to impose his will on Europeans.”

All of which is false, when presented with the facts. Donald Trump’s call for a fairer funding model of NATO, would allow America to roll back its contributions to NATO. By seeking a fairer share of the financial commitment to peace, America is looking to raise others up, not enforce a conqueror-slave dictatorship.

Trump’s frustration is understandable. Based on figures from NATO, American funding is at 22.2%. This is 33% more than Germany, and twice that of Britain and France.

Macron’s advocacy for a European Army built on his premise that Europe needs to protect itself from America, means that The United States would be funding the protection of Europe, while Europe raises an Army against The United States. Trump was right to call this an insult.  If member nations of NATO view America as someone they needed an army to protect themselves from, why would the United States continue to fund NATO at its current rate? Why even have an alliance?

Macron’s comments about Nationalism, during the Armistice Centenary, was also a red herring. He invoked the “Trump is Hitler” fallacy, and was predictably applauded for doing so.

It’s worth noting that the very fact Emmanuel Macron still speaks French, and is able to be the President of a nation called France, negates some of what he said about nationalism, and all of what he projected onto the President of the United States and his “Make America Great Again” platform.

For example: France acted in its own national interest when it became one of the few European nations to ban the Niqab; an action that the United Nations [wrongly] considers to be a violation of human rights.

Healthy Nationalism [aka responsible borders[1], rejection of ethno-nationalism, empowering fair trade etc] isn’t a betrayal of patriotism. Surrendering the French people to the rule of unelected Globalist overlords, in the European Union or the Middle East is.

If the European Union, and its unelected bureaucratic caste, is aiming to build an Army at America’s expense, no wonder the President of the United States is frustrated. America’s funding of NATO would be illogical and counter-productive.

During the Armistice Centenary Emmanuel Macron presented himself as a political opportunist. He made himself the centre of attention, drawing attention away from the service and sacrifice of ALL allied soldiers. He made a mockery of the sacrifice of ALL United States service men and women, who’ve paid the ultimate price to liberate Europeans, from the dark grasp of real tyrannical overlords, and their oppressive social Darwinian ideologies.

American blood lies mixed with the blood of Europeans, Canadians and Australians[2] on the sands of Normandy, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword.

Macron’s appeal to globalism is an appeal to imperialism. If the European Union, and its unelected bureaucratic caste, is aiming to build an Army, under Emmanuel Macron’s premise that Europe needs protecting from the United States, it’s no surprise that Poland would ask the United States to build a military base within its border. Not only does Poland have Russia to its East, Poland is geographically centred right in the middle this growing globalist imperial bureaucracy.

In the words of Historian, Veteran and author, Col. Douglas V. Mastriano:

“Even during the ceremony to commemorate the end of World War I, Macron refused to walk back his statement. If such lack of appreciation and disdain continues to grow against the United States, Europe may just wake up one day and find that America has decided to part ways with them.
Should this happen, a generation of rich, spoiled, and prosperous Europeans like Macron will have to learn the hard way what their grandparents endured but a generation ago. Freedom is not free, and the United States of America is the sole reason for the enduring peace the French have enjoyed.”

The real threat to global security isn’t Donald Trump or his Make America Great Again platform. It’s another “Fortress Europe” defended by an army built by unelected bureaucrats and forced allegiance to their lordship.


References & Notes (not otherwise linked:

[1] Nations cannot protect refugees from the evils that they are fleeing, through multiculturalism and open borders.

[2] 3000 Australians took part in the air assault, a small contingent in the Royal Army and 500 served on board Royal Navy Ships. 14 Australians are known to have died. (source: Australian Department of Veterans Affairs)

Also published at The Caldron Pool, 18th November, 2018 under the heading, French President Emmanuel Macron wants to build a European army to oppose the United States:  How Emmanuel Macron used the Armistice Centenary to smear Trump and the memory of dead American soldiers.

Photo credit: Imke van Loon-Martens on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018

Respected theologian, Pastor and author, Will Willimon, recently wrote an article citing a bishop who  changed his mind about homosexuality.
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Here is the brief response I posted in the comments section:
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Unlike so many who will no doubt applaud this, I won’t. As was pointed out above [in another comment], a lot of the reasoning appears emotionally based. Surrendering to the man-made god of love, is not surrender to the God who is love. The LGBT church can hardly be called a Christian church, any more than the German Christians, who watered down theology and surrendered themselves and their theology to the ideological overlords of their day.
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As Karl Barth noted, we must not confuse love for God, with love for neighbour, for if we do, we end up deifying our neighbour. It neither helps them, loves them, or is an example of walking in the footsteps of Christ. I admit, this is a complex issue, but if beloved family cannot respect, tolerant and be inclusive of a loving “no”, built on convictions drawn from biblical truth, tried and true healthy tradition, and biological science. Then I would question whether appeasement of them; and a happy ignorance of the consequences such as the fatherless and motherless children who will come after them (among other things), was only self-serving, and not truly loving.
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I fear this appeasement is a surrender to Natural Theology, and as such, I am reluctant to applaud those well-respected and esteemed theologians who, not only sign onto it, but take its oath in servitude to it.

Who Are The Real Fascists?

November 13, 2018 — 1 Comment

If the facts cannot be squeezed into a meme the level of attention those facts receive is reduced. Attention to detail is overlooked for what will best attract a view, a like, a follow or a share. Information is seen purely as a commodity.

The problem is that when information is seen purely as a commodity, truth is easily compromised.

We don’t need to look any further than the internet. It’s now common place to log on and find someone accusing someone else of being a Nazi or a racist. This may have reached the status of cliché, and as such is easily dismissed. Nevertheless real concern should be given to it. Especially, when we’re bombarded with celebrity endorsed outrage, and articles written by professionals, (often falsely) equating their opponents with the National Socialists of the 1930’s, without qualification.

For example: in August 2016, a lecturer from Sydney University,  compared fair-minded conservative opposition to same-sex marriage, with the Nazi treatment of homosexuals. In addition, a student was reported to have been disallowed from presenting a case, linking examples of how anti-Israel sentiment, is linked to anti-Semitism. [source]

Historical comparisons made between present and past, should be measured for accuracy. Responsible self-criticism leads us to ask ourselves whether or not our opponent has a point. However, measuring the accuracy of our opponents claim shouldn’t stop with us. For it to be completely fair, the enquiry must also include the consideration of whether or not our opponents, are themselves guilty of doing the very things they’re accusing others of doing.

One good practice, when being likened to the Nazis, is reading material from those who’ve studied the historical context; the history of and the history associated with Nazism. Read those who’ve engaged with the primary sources, and who understand not just what the Nazis did, but how, and why, they did it.

It’s here that Thomas Doherty’s insightful and well researched 2013 book, ‘Hollywood & Hitler‘ shines:

Page 9, citing a PCA[i] report on the prohibition of the movie ‘All Quiet on The Western Front‘, Dec, 18, 1930:
“There is no doubt that this wave of intense national prejudice, which is for now going on, will continue and that any pictures, particularly foreign pictures, which offend the sensibilities of the National Socialists will be a signal for riots and demonstrations.’ [i]
Page 21: ‘Even before Goebbels laid down the law, the Nazi rhetoric on race was being implemented by pumped-up S.A. thugs and zealous party bureaucrats. From Berlin radiating outward, the iron grip tightened over all aspects of film-related culture – artists and technicians, film content and style, trade periodicals and reviewer bylines, theatre ownership and ticket buyers.’ [ii]
Page 97: ‘The Nazis, said Prince Hubertus Lowenstein [an early critic of Nazism], had annihilated all that was good in German culture.”Everything that had made for the glory of Germany has been destroyed in the past three years. The best actors and artists have been expelled. Approximately 1100 scholars and scientists have had to leave, only because they believed in freedom of art, of thought, and of religion.” Jews were forbidden to buy milk for their children, and Catholics were jailed for keeping the faith. The jackboot crushing Jews and Catholics, he predicted, was but a preview of oppressions to come. All those speaking that night urged a united front against Hitler. “We must organise to fight the Nazi invasion before Americans lose their constitutional liberties”‘[iii]

Doherty helps to shine a light on where, and if, Nazism or fascists are active today. When matched against current events descriptions such as, “intense prejudice, the iron grip, that which offends the sensibilities is a signal for riots and demonstrations; rhetoric on race by pumped-up thugs and zealous party bureaucrats”, all show that those pointing their finger and crying wolf about Nazism and fascism, reflect it the most.

The radical Left is already becomes suspect when its adherents use its political platforms to denounce all opposition as Nazism, without any real qualification. It’s already suspect when those same adherents ignore questions, make false claims and turn all fair criticism into “hate speech”. It’s already suspect when this very same ideology backs policies that undermine the humanity of the unborn, democratic debate, diversity of thought, reasoned opinion, expression and faith.

It’s already suspect when some of its most fervent adherents remain silent about the current events in Turkey, or Islamism in general, and yet continue to promote the BDS academic boycott movement against Israel. [source] The radical Left is more than worthy of our suspicions when we only hear the sound of crickets chirping to the tune of double standards, hypocrisy, selective outrage, suppression of faith and reason, political evasion, and propaganda.

As Theodore Kupfer asked, ‘Where are the Academic Boycotts of Turkey?’ It’s tragically ironic that anti-Israel protesters are loud and proud, yet they remain silent about Turkey:

“The response of Western academia has thus far been limited to expressions of grave concern for the fate of individual academics who have been subject to the purge [in Turkey].
No organised boycott effort has surfaced on any level. Mere proclamations of solidarity are supposed to suffice in the case of Turkey, while the same organisations agitate for nothing short of a blanket institutional boycott in the case of Israel.
Mind you, academic conditions in Israel are far superior to those in Turkey. Even attempts to portray Israel as hostile to academic freedom are evidence for this.” [iv]

The irony feeds suspicion of the radical Left. All that’s missing from the trajectory of this ideological radicalism is a figure-head with the power to influence enough people to fanatically fall in line behind them. With what’s happened in opposition to Donald Trump’s election in the United States, such suspicions should be weighed carefully.

Whether we like it or not, we’re being forced into categories by those who want to define us, determine what we think, and turn our freedoms into a carrot on a stick. The agenda isn’t about equality, it’s about dominance. The agenda isn’t about rights, it’s about power. The agenda isn’t about progress, it’s about pride.

It’s ironic that a people’s court stands ready to condemn those who don’t align, agree or pledge allegiance to the Left. The oppressor presents themselves as the oppressed, and no one is allowed to have an opposing view. It’s at this point that we’re not far from Gene Edward Veith, in his underrated 1993, book ‘Modern Fascism’, rightly suggested that there is a link between Heidegger’s revisionist/deconstructionism and fascism.

For example:

“What is the deconstructive basis for condemning Nazism? Would it not be in keeping with the in keeping with the logic of deconstruction, the deconstructive basis for condemning Nazism, reverses a claim like “the Nazis oppressed the Jews,” showing instead that the Jew cooked in a Nazi oven was really the Nazis’ oppressor.
The real-world endpoint of Heideggerian (and now Derridean and de Manian) deconstructionism [and its elimination of] the logocentric (Judeo-Christian) tradition is Auschwitz […]” [v]

This is why theology is important. As Timothy Gorringe states, ‘[Judeo-Christian] theology stands as a critique of ideology,’ [vi] but if it’s to remain authentic theology, it will have to navigate society’s obsession with the Left/Right metaphor. This is partly why I’m not big on the Right/Left metaphor in regards to describing factions within the State or the Church. Throughout history, the meaning has shifted. The metaphor is inadequate. We cannot rely on it entirely.

Another reason for why theology is important is because faith seeks understanding. To confess that Jesus Christ is Lord necessarily means to admit that Jesus Christ is no human pawn. Whether they be, deconstructionists, modernists, futuristic, archaic, primitive, progressive, communist, fascist, conservative, material or spiritual; Any Christian theology worthy of its name-sake, is and always will stand as a critique of all human centered strongholds that claim godlikeness; a challenge to all towers of Bable.

Genuine Christianity is, as Karl Barth duly noted, ‘the protest against all the high places which human beings build for themselves’ (Karl Barth C.D IV/II p.524).

To say that history is being repeated is not overstating the current zeitgeist. History is not, however, being repeated in the same way that the Left often sells it. Based on what is presented by Doherty, Kupfer, Vieth and Hirsch above, it’s those who recklessly cry wolf about Fascists, and subsequently point to the Right, who have more in common with the Nazis, than they do the victims of Nazism.

May we continue to be free, and well informed enough to differentiate between the real and the wrongly labelled.


References:

[i]  Doherty,T. 2013 Hollywood & Hitler: 1933-1939 Columbia University Press

[ii] ibid, 2013

[iii] ibid, 2013

[iv] Kupfer, T. 2016 Where Are the Academic Boycotts of Turkey? sourced 24th August 2016 from nationalreview.com

[v] Hirsch, D. 1991. The Deconstruction of Literature: Criticism after Auschwitz (p.87) Cited by Gene E. Veith, Modern Fascism, 1993. Concordia Publishing House.

[vi] Gorringe, T.J 1999 Karl Barth: Against Hegemony Christian theology in context Oxford University Press New York

[Updated and edited from an article posted in August, 2016, called, The Usurping of Things To Come?’ Also published at The Caldron Pool, 13th November, 2018 under the heading, ‘Who are the real fascists?’]

Photo credit:  Taton Moïse on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018.