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Adam Piggot in a recent article on Christian men and feminism raised some talking points about the current state of the Church. Adam discusses how Christians have backed down in the face of feminism. His major point is that ‘the modern Christian fears’ taking a stand against feminism.

As a result men, women and children have now become its puppets. Men in the Church have a particular responsibility for this. They’ve allowed the feminist conquest of the Church by feminist ideologues, who seem hell bent on either running churches and dominating their agenda, or destroying them outright.

The Church universal has struggled to avoid being strangulated by a flood of competing alternatives. Alternatives that more often than not, raise themselves up by putting the Church down. These alternatives need the Church’s sins in order to justify their existence. For example, without the villain of patriarchy, its difficult for feminism to maintain support for the claim that they are its victim.

Though I consider some of Adam’s points valid, his generalisations ignore the portion of Christian men who don’t easily fit into his assessment on feminism and the church. Not every Christian male has surrendered his faith to this new lord and master.

It’s important to recognise, that as long as the Left continue to rampage and manipulate the political agenda to suit their ideological goals, or seek to engineer an unhealthy Christian or conservative response to it, Christians and conservatives have to work harder on how they communicate their responses.

The imperative for this is handed down to Christians and conservatives by William F. Buckley Jnr. In one of his final debates with progressive homosexual and Democrat, Gore Vidal. Buckley was baited into attacking Vidal. After a pre-scripted diatribe about Vietnam, the well prepared Vidal persistently accused Buckley of being nothing but a crypto-Nazi. Having had enough of the manipulative attacks, Buckley, adamantly rejected the accusation, rose out of his chair and threatened to physically attack Vidal. Buckley lost the debate and is said to have lived with the regret of his misstep for the rest of his life.

Christians and conservatives alike, have to recognise the manipulative tactics of the Left. Otherwise in any attempt to respond, Christians and conservatives could end up shooting themselves in the foot with the gun the Left hands them. Like Vidal did to Buckley, their smug opponents will look on, smile and state with pride, “see everybody, they are what we told you they were…”

In light of Buckley’s experience Christian men have to be cautious in how they answer feminism.We also understand that any misstep in this process can have catastrophic outcomes for the Gospel and our freedom to faithfully proclaim it. Being careful doesn’t mean fearful. Being careful puts into action Matthew 10:16 and Proverbs 4:23:

‘Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.’ & ‘Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.’

Most Christians; and I speak from a theologian’s corner, try to understand the complaint of feminism and respond to it. We can acknowledge the complaints of feminism without surrendering to it. Listening for how it can inform us about sin and its corruption of the human heart, in the light of Jesus Christ.

While there is value in listening to the critique of feminism, we don’t have to subscribe to its extreme blueprints for society.

This involves acknowledging and criticising feminism. Noting where feminism does and does not provide a corrective that can enhance man and woman’s love for God and each other. Exposing the compromise of Christian theology as it’s bent and twisted into the service of false prophets, their ideology, their rejection and attempted dethroning of the God who speaks to us through covenant and in Jesus Christ.

When allowed to speak freely Christian theology becomes a necessary critique of feminism.

The clash between biblical Christianity and feminism takes place when one sinner is elevated over and above the other. Feminism teaches that man is forever the oppressor, woman forever the one man oppresses. In contrast, biblical Christianity teaches us that sin is pervasive in all of humanity. In other words it affects both man and woman equally.

Sin is the denial of relationship; the rejection of God’s grace. The rejection of relationship and the quest to replace God with humanity,  or make gods in their image. Humans become the sole source of morality, ethics; the determiners of what is good and what is evil. Within this is the will to dominate. The lust for power pervades the human condition, steals from relationships and diminishes fullness of life.

Sin leads us to devour each other. It’s a puppeteer that manipulates humanity. Sin enslaves us all to the servitude of its faux lordship, in it we are lost in the abyss of its nothingness. Sin fills the place where God should be. The One, who in Jesus Christ answers our sin, with both His own sacrifice, suffering, mercy and judgement.

Freedom for relationship exists in God’s liberating humanity from sin. 

 ‘man is set free to be free for woman, woman is set free to be free for man, and both are set free to be free for God.’ (Karl Barth, 1951 Church Dogmatics III.IV)

John Machen, in his 1923 book ‘Christianity Vs. Liberalism’ made an attempt to protest the shift towards modern liberalism by the Church. The extremes of modern liberalism are upheld by tea-straining theology through the lens of social justice; of feel-good activism and an ideologically mandated politics, which is quick to damn anyone they’ve collectively deemed as having fallen short of their faux word of god. It’s a revisionism that tries to fit the Bible and Christianity into a neat political box.

These are built on the imperatives of the “social gospel”, which has, in some Churches, slowly replaced Jesus Christ as the Gospel. The social gospel ultimately bends Christian loyalty towards a political ideology, a faux Christ, faux gospel and therefore a faux god.

In its final form this monster, this faux god, emerges, and assumes control over both spheres. Still distinct in identity, both Left and Right worship, and conduct themselves under one faux religion. The difference is that one side, through compromise, jettisons the true God, for the power it thinks it will gain for having done so; whereas the other side, provoked into pushing back, finds itself slowly becoming exactly what they’ve been accused of being.

The danger of the social gospel was noted by anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who stated that

‘A lack of obedience to Scripture is characteristic for the teaching of the social gospel.’
(Bonhoeffer, DBW 12, Memorandum, p.242)

The conservative Christian is dragged into this downgrade of the Gospel. Reacting against the temerity of modern liberalism, conservative Christians build their own ideological fortifications in order to protect classical liberal principles and the foundation those are built upon, such as the Judeo-Christian faith. In direct conflict with the faux gospel taught and fought for by modern liberalism, conservatives stand in a state of constant conflict with those on the Left.

I’m cautious of Adam’s conclusions. It’s too easy to say that all christian men fear feminism, and as a consequence christian men are soley to blame for the current state of the church. The issue is complex and as I’ve stated above, has multiple factors that need to be acknowledged.

If, however, we exclude those who haven’t surrendered their all to the ideology of the day, Adam’s critique of those who over accomodate feminism through fear of it, is spot on.

Feminism as it currently exists is a perpetually angry, false religion; married to the cult of modern liberalism, at the beck and call of all that it demands.

Feminism has become a religion without the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. It’s absent of God revealing Himself to humanity; absent of the knowledge about who and what God is, because it lives and asserts itself outside the God has made Himself known. The God who reveals Himself in man, through woman is denied his masculinity and chained to the watered down feminist ideal. Misandry has turned Jesus Christ into an effeminate passive servant, far removed from the carpenter, stares down the devil in the wilderness and takes a whip to hypocrites in the temple.

Feminism has become something that seeks to identify women as innocent goddesses and men as vile demons. Evidence for this can be found in the uncontrolled emotional outbursts and reactions to the 2016 election in the United States. The sinless goddess, Hilary Clinton lost the election to the demon, Donald Trump; or so the tale of woe goes…

‘The warfare of the world has entered even into the house of God, and sad indeed is the heart of the man who has come seeking peace.’ (Machen, 1923)

References:

Barth, K. 1951 Church Dogmatics III.IV

Bonhoeffer, D. Memorandum, Soziale Evangelium, Berlin: 1932–1933, DBW 12

Machen. J.G. 1923 Christianity & Liberalism

Artwork: John Martin, 1849. The Last Man, Oil on canvas

On the day the same-sex marriage plebiscite results were released I was contacted by a friend from the Left. He was very excited and keen to hear my post-plebiscite analysis.

What he got was my congratulations and, multitasking between my work for the day, some short replies about how the “no” vote was engineered by governments and some corporations to lose.

There is strong evidence to suggest that the “no” vote was handicapped from the start. It was engineered to fail long ago, by a better funded opponent who is skilled in the sinister art of manipulation.

For example: Sydney city was clothed in Yes flags among other things. Venues refused to host “no” campaign meetings and the MSM gave priority to “yes” campaign material and refused to run “no” campaign material – even though it was paid. Sure some went to air, but it wasn’t anywhere near a “fair go.”

That doesn’t take into account the large number of yes voter bigotry. Churches being vandalised, people assaulted, the implied “anyone who votes no will face instant dismissal from their job” – or even an ex-PM being head-butted in the street. The MSM response pretty much gave the culprit responsible for that a free ride.

Let’s also include the one-sided [mis]use of state funds/tax payer money by adherents of the Leftist cult of modern liberalism, to dress up some suburbs in support of the LGBTQ religion, which included funding for counselling for triggered government workers, and an online unit to monitor the web for attacks and vilification against homosexuals. That’s not equality.

Even after the plebiscite result, leading conservatives were targeted and ridiculed. Reverse that and all hell would break loose.

It’s worth pointing out that 99% of “no to SSM” campaigners didn’t do what was done unto them!

In a politely critical way my friend shared that he hoped that conservative politicians would respect the outcomes of plebiscite and vote in accordance with the results from their electorates.

I responded by saying that the Left would not be as concerned or critical about their own responses, had the plebiscite delivered a clear “no” to SSM win. This wasn’t an aggressive counter-attack on my part, it was based on twelve months of non-stop Leftist media, academics and citizens, shoving their paranoia down our throats.

For instance let’s examine the double standard in the reactions and position taken by most Australian Leftists over the past twelve months:

The Australian Left, November 2016:
“democracy is dead; I’m quitting Facebook; Trump is Hitler; punch a Nazi and burn it all to the ground!”
The Australian Left, November 2017:
“democracy is alive! I hope all you conservatives; bigots, [insert expletives], & homophobes are going to respect the democratic process.”

The only things consistent here are the abuse, dehumanising and reckless labels.

Our conversation took a slightly heated turn when he tried to make out that I was too touchy, exaggerating my short responses as a temper tantrum.  I reminded him that I my reasons for being short were because I was giving priority to more important tasks.

When I’m approached by people in this manner, I’m usually suspicious of the motive.

After all, some “friendships”  these days seem to be more about me being the token Christian, theologian and, in certain minds, their very own evil conservative. Such is the way our world has evolved. One where just having a friend of a certain group, means you are more tolerant than others.  More knowledgeable; it makes you an insider.

It gives you street cred, especially when you can misquote or plaster all your news feeds with that “friends” opposition to things that you agree with. Objections that further fortify a certain narrative about the people group that “friend” is associated with. Having that “friend” serves the self-interest of others.

Before I’m accused of a tu quoque fallacy or hypocrisy. I’ll be straight up and say that my friend, who happens to currently be a Leftist, and I have been mates for twenty years. I don’t see him as a token Leftist friend. I see the man and measure him on his ideas, his merit and value as another human being made in the image of God, not on where he comes from. I will always do my best to advocate seeing the man, and his heart not the melanin or where in life he started.

I grew up in a multi-ethnic, low socio-economic neighbourhood where girls outnumbered the boys. As a white man, I’ve never been more pushed by others, to see or treat someone else different because of the colour of their skin, than I have in the past twelve months by Leftism.

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.

If the Left are sincere in their concern about homophobia and the separation of religion from the public sphere, shouldn’t they be as concerned when people attack conservatives, Christians and their allies, people who do so out of fear. Shouldn’t they be concerned when politicians provide funding in support of one side of the debate via the government apparatus?

When we’re dealing with a cult-minded community who demand tolerance, but don’t reciprocate it, we shouldn’t be surprised if the answer to this is “no”.

 ‘In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings be fruitful.’
(C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man 1944:25)

They’ve paved paradise, and put up a parking lot…


 

john-martin-the-repentance-of-nineveh-with-borderWhether you’re soaked in the dye of the Left or the Right; politically branded and proud to wear it, or disinclined to bow before either.

No one is outside the sharp insight found within these words:

‘’…He told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.’’ (Lk.18:9)

Prior to this Jesus had just finished speaking of a widow, who persistently came before a judge, pleading her case.

The judge is described as one ‘who neither feared God nor respected man.’ (Lk.18:2). We know little of the widow’s situation other than that, given her persistence, it must have been desperate.  As the parable goes, the judge, more out of irritation than compassion, grants the widow justice.

Jesus doesn’t finish there. Luke records that what followed was an imperative “…hear what the unrighteous judge says.” (Lk.18:6)

Jesus then makes it clear that God “will give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night … He will give justice to them speedily.” (Lk.18:7-8)

In a seemingly unrelated conclusion, Jesus poses a question about the future. Leaning on the distinction between the widow’s relentless faith despite her suffering, and what could be described as the judge’s militant atheism, Jesus asks: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

It’s from here that Luke cements one of the most significant parables taught by Jesus: the Pharisee and the Tax collector.

We’re told that.

‘’two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.”

The Pharisee prays,

“God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; and give tithes of all that I get.” (Lk.18:11-12)

We’re to understand that the Pharisee considers himself more righteous than the tax collector. He is ‘asserting his own righteousness’[i]

To see the relevance of this, we need to go back to Jesus’ question about the future at the end of the last parable:

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

It’s a question that begs another: Do we have more faith in ourselves, than we do in God?

In 21st century terms, the Pharisee would be living out of an attitude that leads to a prayer like this:

“God, I thank you that I am not like that racist, bigoted, homophobic, xenophobic, or intolerant person over there; I’m socially “responsible” and unlike all those haters, and “deplorables.”

There is a keenness to point out what others are, readiness to shift the focus of sin, a readiness to parade a fashionable, Machiavellian, public display of righteousness.

There is no recognition or confession of the fact that ‘’all have sinned, all have fallen short of the glory of God’’ (Rom.3:23). The sinner is whoever and whatever the 21st Century Pharisee claims not to be. You are whatever they say you are. You will do, speak and think what they tell you to or else.

Accordingly, the righteous are those who adhere to the human rules and guidelines set by the modern Pharisee. In modern society this is imposed by the predominantly political and academic elite.

On the surface the 21st century Pharisee gives lip service to God, but underneath has become as God.

As identified by John Machen, in his 1923 book ‘Christianity Vs. Liberalism’, the majority of the Left, similar to that of the far-right, follow a faux religion. It’s a revisionism that fits the Bible and Christianity into a political box. The extremes of modern liberalism are upheld by tea-straining theology through the lens of social justice; of feel-good activism and ideologically mandated politics, which is quick to damn anyone they’ve collectively deemed as having fallen short of the faux word of god.

These are built on the imperatives of the progressive, “social Gospel”, that has slowly replaced Jesus Christ as the Gospel, with loyalty to a political ideology, a faux Christ, faux gospel and therefore a faux god.

Evidence for this can be found in the uncontrolled emotional outbursts and reactions to the recent election in the United States.

The Right (extremes excluded), through its own issues with pride and fear, is dragged into this downgrade of the Gospel, (and along with it the downgrade of democracy.) Reacting against the temerity of modern liberalism, the Right builds its own ideological fortifications. Justified by the faux gospel taught by liberalism, the Right stands in a state of constant battle, brought about by constant bombardment from the Left.

In its final form, though, this monster, this faux god, emerges, having control over both spheres. Still distinct in identity, both Left and Right worship, and conduct themselves under one faux religion. The difference is that one side, through compromise, jettisoned God, for the power it thought it would gain for having done so; whereas the other side, provoked into pushing back, finds itself slowly becoming that which it once fought against.

‘The warfare of the world has entered even into the house of God, and sad indeed is the heart of the man who has come seeking peace.’ (Machen, 1923*)

We come back again to the question previously asked: Do we have more faith in ourselves, than we do in God?

In contrast to the Pharisee, we’re confronted by the awkward timidity of the tax collector. He stands far off. He doesn’t even raise his eyes to heaven (Lk.18:13). He knows the job he has to do each day and wears the cost of it. His job isn’t easy and it’s not going to get easy anytime soon.

His only hope is in God. It isn’t in what he does, his nation gives or what others say he is.

Instead of seeking to out-do the Pharisee in self-praise, the tax collector “beats his chest [a sign of humility & shame][ii], saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Jesus finishes the parable, saying,

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.”

The bible tells us that ‘none is righteous and the fool jettisons God.’ (Rom.3:10/Psalm 14/Psalm 53)

We are encouraged to be wary of wolves in sheep’s clothing, of false teachers; masked “believers”.

We’re warned that at the coming of the Son of Man, sheep will be separated from goats (Matthew 25). That the political games of deny, evade and blame that give power, will no longer serve to do so.

Both sheep and goats are strong metaphors. For justifiable reasons, whether right or left, liberal or conservative, Christians are summoned to trust and follow the Good Shepherd, not bleat expletives, or eat everything that comes our way.

As for the elect, mentioned in the first parable, we can say that they are, the broken and contrite. They are ‘those who call upon the name of the LORD…’(Rom.10:13 et.al)[iii]  They are, in the words of Karl Barth,

‘Jesus Christ and those He represents’ (CD. 2/2).

In closing, Jesus speaks:

 ‘For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.’ (Lk.18:14)

Whether tax collector, Pharisee, liberal, or conservative, no one lives outside the parameters of these words.[iv]

The praise of God outdoes and outlasts the praise of self. May we follow the heartfelt and humble zeal of the tax collector, over-against, the self-righteous fanaticism[v] of the Pharisee.


Notes:

[i] Green, J.B. 1997 NICNT: Luke Wm.B Eerdmans Publishing, [Green also notes, ‘Luke’s purpose is not to condemn a particular group but to warn against a particular way of comporting oneself in light of the present and impending reign of God.’ (NICNT: Luke, p.646)]

[ii]  (Green, p.649)

[iii]  Romans 10:13, ‘For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ See also: Joel 2:32/Acts 2:21/Psalm 145:18 & my personal favourite Psalm 51:17.

[iv] As Green writes: ‘disciples always are in danger of Pharisaic behaviour’ (NICNT: Luke p.646)

[v] Keenness to issue blame, and bestow on themselves credit.

*Machen, J.G. 1923 Christianity & Liberalism: closing remarks

Artwork credit: John Martin, ‘The Repentance of Nineveh’ (19th Century)

IMG_3628At a recent family event, the person I was talking with deliberately identified themselves as a “progressive”.

It seemed odd to me that this person felt the need to qualify their ideological position. Based on his choice of words and a few popular socio-political slogans dropped in between them, his position was clear enough.

It’s how things are. Although there was polite disagreement, I didn’t fall in line with the controlling socio-political narrative. Consequently, I was treated as dim-witted and ignorant.

I even attempted to shift topics, mentioning that my father had passed away in March, but that was only met with silence and indifference.

I wasn’t hurt or at all that surprised. In other non-face to face conversations a lack of respect and sense of superiority has always tainted his participation in our conversations. In this instance, however, he came across as arrogant. Even if he was making a strong effort to conceal contempt for my questions and tentative conclusions, it was clear that my educated theological position was considered unscientific and therefore, illegitimate; of no value.

I was curious about why he was comfortable with dismissing my theologically trained position, and yet confident about his own knowledge of theology; mostly sentimental fragments of information, drawn from his youthful association with a church .

I walked away with the strong impression that he was uninterested in my position. He appeared hypocritical and prejudiced against anything a thinking Christian might have to say or offer.

This is nothing new. It’s a bit like what G.K Chesterton experienced at the turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Experiences which lead him to write observations like this:

 ‘In the Catholic twelfth century, in the philosophic eighteenth century, the direction may have been a good or a bad one, men may have differed more or less about how far they went, and in what direction, but about the direction they did in the main agree, and consequently they had the genuine sensation of progress. But it is precisely about the direction that we disagree. Whether the future excellence lies in more law or less law, in more liberty or less liberty; whether property will be finally concentrated or finally cut up; whether sexual passion will reach its sanest in an almost virgin intellectualism or in a full animal freedom; whether we should love everybody with Tolstoy, or spare nobody with Nietzsche;— these are the things about which we are actually fighting most.’ (Heretics, 1901, pp.15-17)[i]

Chesterton falls into three categories. Insightfully relevant: elements readers cannot help but agree with. Intensely relevant: the wordy elements that unsettle even the most devoted of his fans. Irritatingly relevant: elements that make a whole lot of sense, but would be cast aside because they speak too loudly against certain predominant socio-political agendas.

Reading Chesterton is a lot like reading Jean Bethke Elshtain, Albert Camus, Hannah Arendt, or the anti-Nazi theologians Karl Barth or Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Their works are better savoured, than rapidly devoured.

They’re part of a movement and a counter-movement. Each unsettling us as we are directed in heart, thought and attitude towards something not of this world – pointing us to the God who, in the world through covenant and Jesus Christ, speaks to humanity from outside humanity. Humanity can never speak this Word to itself or by itself. It can only speak God’s Word in reference to where, when, how, who and what, God has first chosen to speak it. God’s Word; His grace and law comes to us – encounters us. It’s possible to say that genuine progress is framed and protected by law, but brought to life by grace.

Like conservatives, progressives don’t own the concepts of progress, tolerance, emancipation, compassion, enlightenment, grace or even charity. No creature, without the Creator, can truly claim them, or truly offer them, without eventually perverting progress, turning it into a lordless and tyrannical task-master instead of a servant.

As Chesterton said,

 ‘Progress, properly understood, has, indeed, a most dignified and legitimate meaning. But as used in opposition to precise moral ideals, it is ludicrous. So far from it being the truth that the ideal of progress is to be set against that of ethical or religious finality, the reverse is the truth. Nobody has any business to use the word “progress” unless he has a definite creed and a cast-iron code of morals. Nobody can be progressive without being doctrinal. For progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are in the least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress. Never perhaps since the beginning of the world has there been an age that had less right to use the word “progress” than we […] It is not merely true that the age which has settled least what is progress is this “progressive” age. It is, moreover, true that the people who have settled least what progress is, are the most “progressive” people in it. The ordinary mass, the men who have never troubled about progress, might be trusted perhaps to progress.’ (ibid)

In sum, you don’t have to be a progressive, to be for progress.


Notes:

[i] Chesterton. G.K. 1901, Heretics Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Ed. (pp, 15-17).