Archives For Liberalism

Guest post by Heather Mertens

Changing words and ways over to a “reinterpreted” view, especially when done to fit an agenda, has certainly made its mark in this world by this new generation of “thinkers”. But how did they become so emboldened to change words to mean what they decide they should mean? A silent generation, that’s how.

It’s been proven throughout history that mass amounts of people will believe something, even something untrue, if they are told it enough times with loud enough voices.

The 1980’s ushered in the “I’m okay, you’re okay” worldview in the western world, which was birthed out of that silent generation’s children. But nothing lasts long these days. About 15 years or so ago, that all turned into “I’m okay because I’m going to do what I want and believe what I want. What you believe is irrelevant and unconcerning”.

Worse yet is what that mentality has turned into this past 5 years or so… the generation of “If I am okay that’s all that matters, and you HAVE to believe what I believe for me to be ok”.

Now, I never speak in gross generalizations, and I loathe labeling for the sake of lumping people groups together.  So, I know not every person in each of these generations fell into those agendas. However, a movement of sorts came out of each that has shaken the modern world’s particulars to the core. At least, to a great degree of certainty and observation, we can say this all to be true about the United States, which has led the world in freedoms… some run amok.

As far removed as this newest generation would love to believe that they’ve taken themselves from the few generations that paved a way many now regret, the truth is obvious and painful. They are in complete chaos. They took the adamant desire to “not be silent” and ran so far in the other direction that they feel a misguided obligation to essentially shove their very agendas down the throats of everyone else.

From a whole generation 75 years ago that cherished and expected silence came this generation of chaos to never be silent again.

And that silent generation has birthed this chaos.

To the world and in the world they were silent…

They were silent about sex.

They were silent about sexuality.

They were silent about identity.

They were silent about politics.

They were silent about God.

They were silent about giving a reason for their faith.

They were silent on so many things. And now there is chaos.

It might not have happened overnight in the last 75 years, but it happened rather quickly. And the masses have changed drastically in the last decade. Why? Because inside chaos people don’t know what they are hearing; they can’t tell which end is up. So they look around for clues.

You have the most signs? You talk the loudest and most often? People will listen. And people will believe what you say. Why? Because nearly an entire generation has lost its ability to think for itself. And why is that? Because the generation that came years before them was silent.

Silence got us to a point that we didn’t fight for what we knew was worth fighting for in life. Like life. 

Silence got us abortion on demand … because they demand it … “you HAVE to believe what I believe for me to be ok”.

Silence got us an identity crisis to exponential levels … because they demand it …  “you HAVE to believe what I believe for me to be ok”.

Silence got us redefined concepts of family … because they demand it…  “you HAVE to believe what I believe for me to be ok”.

Silence got us politics just shy of lunatics … because they demand it …  “you HAVE to believe what I believe for me to be ok”.

And they were silent about God and His Truth in public places. They were silent about most of these things in churches, too. In this regard, silence got us redefined churches by the whole denomination and “reinterpreted” Scripture to fit this chaotic culture.

Liberal theology, which was already far enough removed from actual Biblical Truth in many areas, became dominated by progressive politics.

And they’ve changed the language and meaning of words. Love is being redefined. Faith is being redefined. Life is being redefined. God. God is being redefined.

But only to a generation unwilling to think for themselves… or worse yet, to the extent they actually believe they are thinking things through for themselves while clouded by the chaos around them.

But…

Truth is immutable. 

God is immutable. 

His Word is immutable. 

A new generation of forceful agenda driven people can’t change the immutability of God’s Truth.

Silence can’t change it.

They can talk differently. Sing differently. Congregate differently. They can change to fit the new ways…  “You HAVE to believe what I believe for me to be ok”.

But they can’t change Truth.

Who is going to stand up for Truth? We must. But are we running out of time?


Heather Mertens has studied Scripture and Theology in various ways throughout the years, sharing much of what she has learned via her studies as well as her life experience. She has a Certificate in Apologetics-Core Module from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Academy. She has also had the joy and blessing of learning Theology and Biblical Studies from her daughter, who is finishing up her 2nd Theology and Biblical Studies degree and has a Biblical Studies Certificate, all from Liberty University.

Heather shares her personal experience and writes in Apologetics-style at 40YearWanderer.wordpress.com as well as on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMertens) and on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thelifeofwhy/) where she shares Scriptural Truth for Life’s Biggest Questions in hopes that people can come together to know what the Bible actually says.

Her pure joy is raising her daughter to adulthood and now enjoys her freelance web design and marketing career of helping people find their unique web presence… and the beach!


Photo credit: Echo Grid on Unsplash

gresham-1923-rl2016


Sources:

Machen. J.G. 1923 Christianity & Liberalism

Murrell, B. 2006 The Sun Sword Trilogy: Quest for the Sun Gem,  Random House (p.207)

Sin Shake Sin , 2015 Lunatics & Slaves from the Lunatics & Slaves

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)

gresham-collegeEngland’s Gresham College has a series of excellent lectures available for free on YouTube. Two grabbed my attention. Alister McGrath’s, ‘Darwin, Evolution and God: The Present Debates   and Alec Ryrie’s, ‘What Would Jesus Do? Christian Culture Wars in the Modern West.’ 

McGrath’s lecture starts with an overview of Charles Darwin’s journey from The Beagle to the establishment of his theory, and closes with a discussion about Darwinism and religion. My only criticism was that McGrath is a little too generous towards Darwin when discussing Nazism and its social Darwinian foundations.

That was, however, offset by McGrath’s in-depth look at Darwin’s assertions in ”The Decent of Man”.

“Darwin never became an atheist. Although he wrestled with [Protestant] Christianity’s “lack” in dealing with suffering, brought on by the loss of his daughter, Darwin never used evolution as weapon against Christianity. From what we know, Darwin didn’t see a clash between evolution and creation”

In a somewhat related vein, Alec Ryrie’s lecture deals with the paralysing of freedom.

His three primary themes are morality, christian authenticity and the loss of christian identity. All of which are paralysed by politics and pluralism.

Ryrie states that for the West, ‘World War Two was the defining moral event, of the twentieth century.’ For example: the fight against the Axis powers in WW2 was portrayed as a Crusade against evil. This, according to Dwight Eisenhower, was proven true by the horrors found in Dachau and Auschwitz.

This led to a post-war rallying around Judeo-Christianity, the faith of “Christendom”, as being a bulwark against communism, because those who pray the Shema Yisrael and the Lord’s Prayer, saved the West from Nazism [the new modern face and name for evil].

From the mid 1950s up to 1968 something shifted in the West. Ryrie looks to this shift by focusing on the African-American civil rights movement. In these he sees the opportunistic birth of the radical left (Western Marxism), as it took over ownership of the Civil rights movement, and quietly suppressed the movements Christian foundations.

The consequence being a ‘reckless abandonment of institutions‘ and tradition. Adding to this the eventual gagging of the gospel (Jesus Christ) and the disintegration of an openly Christian identity.

The outcome was that ”culture determined the agenda and therefore the church had to go wherever the culture led.” Just as the Church under the thumb of National Socialist Germany had lost it’s identity, was paralysed and painfully divided by conformity, politics and pluralism, the Church in the West today has followed suit.

Christian identity ended up ‘torn’ between political correctness and Christian orthodoxy.

For example: by the late 1970s the religious left had became ‘invisible’. Ryrie presents as evidence the overthrow of the Student Christian Mission (SCM) by Marxists, who,

‘merged a Marxist revolution with the Kingdom of God; seeing Jesus as a political radical.
This was the subsuming of Christian identity into radical politics.’

A theology of Christian liberation, which centres Christ at the heart of social justice, was confused with liberation theology, which surrenders Christ into servitude to the ideology of Marx.

The lecture ends with the example of Buzz Aldrin’s decision to have communion on the moon. Ryrie highlights Aldrin’s regret, where in his 2008 memoir, Aldrin stated, if he did the moon landing all over again, he wouldn’t repeat it, because they went to the moon on behalf of humanity, which includes Jews, Muslims, Hindus and heathen, not just Christians.

Although Aldrin took communion in private, Aldrin is still led to reconsider it. The real reason? He has been taught to view the outworking of his Christian faith as intolerant and bigoted. He has been pressured to feel guilty for living out his Christian faith; coerced into feeling guilty for following Jesus Christ.

Ryrie points to Adlrin’s regret as evidence of the crisis caused by this loss of Christian identity. The  insecurity (lament/shyness/uncertainty) about holding up, with conviction, what is an essential rite of Aldrin’s faith, makes special note of the struggle Christians have in ‘maintaining a [Christian] identity in the midst of pluralism.’

Ryrie’s lecture is full of insight. He inadvertently backs up the quip that the radical Left created the modern Conservative movement.

The radical Left continues to be a divisive force, setting itself up as the Kingdom of God without God in it. Grasping for any cause that will reinvigorate this division to foster recruitment and feed an alternative sense of global community that competes with the Commonwealth of Christ, by attacking its freedom and undermining its legitimacy.

Christianity indistinguishable from the world is subsequently extinguished by the world.

Or perhaps more accurately, Christianity indistinguishable from the world allows itself to be extinguished (at least in public) from the world.

It should be no surprise to us then, that leaders will rise who don’t live up to the Judeo-Christian convictions that are said to have defeated the evils the world faced in the 1940s. It should be no surprise to us then, that once we’ve effectively evicted God from the pubic and private sphere, we end up with leaders who fail to lead outside their own self-interest.

You cannot remove Judeo-Christianity from the West, then think you are right to kick and scream when a leader/s rise who don’t live out Judeo-Christian convictions.

In the end, you’re only getting what you prayed for.


References:

[i] McGrath, A. 2016 ‘Darwin, Evolution and God: The Present Debates Gresham College – [transcript]

[ii] Ryrie, A. 2016 What Would Jesus Do? Christian Culture Wars in the Modern West Gresham College – [transcript]