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Dismantling Babel…

September 5, 2018 — 2 Comments

…in light of the Bible.

Barth Credo God makes his way to us

 


References:

Image: RL2013; tagged “Stormy Sunset”

Quote: Cited by Sawyer, M. James (Kindle Ed. 2012). Neoorthodoxy: an Introductory Survey

Originally published 14th Nov. 2013

In a recent article titled ‘Abortion in/as a Consumer Structure’ for Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics, Dr. Matthew Tan, a Lecturer in Theology and Philosophy at Campion College Australia, suggested that the Church needs to assert itself as an ‘alternative public’ in the marketplace.

Matthias Grunewald, ‘The Last Supper’. c.1500 A.D

According to Tan the real battleground where issues like abortion are to be engaged in is the ‘community called “the market”[i],

‘In consumer culture everything is reduced to a commodity and the market is the community’[ii]. He explains that ‘bodies become units of exchange. Greater value is attributed to those with the greater buying power’[iii]

Enter a ‘politics of visibility’ where bodies are:

‘reduced to a blank slate whose sole worth lies in its ability to exalt the logos that hang off it[iv]… Mere existence then becomes ‘dependent on performance and audience. Self itself becomes dependant on visibility’[v]

In response to this the Church needs to engage by seeing through the ‘lens of economic efficiency’. It needs to engage as a ‘public in its own right to challenge to the public circumscribed by state and society’.

This is as opposed to allowing itself to be simply relegated by society and politics to function in a private ancillary role e.g.: ‘chaplaincy’.

How can the Church apply its resources in presenting itself as an alternative?

Tan suggests that the language of the Sacraments meet the language of commerce, ‘in particular the Eucharist’.

Here the Church can assert itself as a direct:

‘counter-structure’ to the consumerist ‘logic of efficiency’ because the Eucharist (communion) ‘undoes the logic of efficiency by challenging the logic of resource scarcity that mandates the need to ensure efficient management. The Eucharist challenges this by positing counter-logic of plenitude where people ‘receive without charge [and] give without charge’
‘The Eucharist can challenge the very foundations on which contemporary socio-political arrangements are grounded. Because of this, the Church’s task of producing its own fields via sacramental practice will ultimately call into question the Church’s own political positioning’
‘This alternative public…contains an alternative structure and is one in which the imperative to consume others is seen as an aberration rather than the norm. If the structure of consumer practice is implicated in the normalisation of abortion, the Church can only comprehensively undercut that normalisation by supplementing its discourse asserting the personhood of the foetus with its own counter-structure.
In so doing the church will need to go beyond making claims that are allegedly recognisable to all endowed with reason. Through its own sacramental economy, it would need to be engaged in the production of practices that declare an allegiance that is contrary to the state/society/market complex’

Even though, they are in fact very political, I am not sure the sacraments (primarily Baptism and Communion – for those us reading Tan who are Protestants) should be employed as a purely political and financial tool. This is because the purposes of the sacraments are firstly about recollection. Secondly, relationship and then, only in a final sense, does it become about transformation.

I wonder though if Tan is in fact talking about marketing the church and its practices better. For example: Does this counter logic advocate that the Church view itself as a corporation and set itself apart from other corporations such as McDonalds, Apple or Microsoft?

If so, are we talking about taking up the very thing only God can do and does? Does this make or lead us to falsely make the sacraments purely transactional, bypassing Jesus Christ, to the point where something akin to the indulgences of the Middle Ages, salvation is taxed by the institution?

For the church the marketing of the message seems to be the evangelical outer workings of the people working with God, whereas the latter marketing of the church appears, at least in an exegetical understanding of scripture, to require and consist of the present participation of the Holy Spirit, in both external and internal evangelical work of God for the children of God.

Would this human effort to commercialise the sacraments then further diminish the transcendent point of reference which appears to be abandoned by modernity’s extreme focus on ‘surface over substance’; i.e.: material gain measuring a persons net worth?

I only ask this because it is my only hesitation in completely agreeing with his point of view. This doesn’t negate the strategic importance of Tan’s thinking here. There is potentially a lot good that can grow from what he is suggesting.

To witness the Church having its task of proclamation really heard and appreciated, on any level in real time, is energising. To engage as a serious alternative to the alternatives, is a privilege of freedom, that none of us in the church ought to remain complacent about or take for granted.


References:

[i] Tan, M. 2014 Abortion in/as a Consumer Structure, Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics: Vol 4: Iss.1, Article 7,p.7

[ii] Ibid, p.11

[iii] Ibid, p.8

[iv] Ibid, p.7

[v] Ibid, p.9

Article originally published April 27, 2014

for-sale_rl2016According to the Oxford Dictionary, a Social Justice Warrior is ‘a person who expresses or promotes socially progressive views.’

The online Urban dictionary offers a more substantial explanation:

“A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation. A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.” [i]

In case you’re doubting the credibility of the Urban Dictionary, take as further evidence, examples highlighted by The Observer in an article called, The Totalitarian Doctrine of Social Justice Warriors’.

Their standout point:

“Since new “marginalised” identities can always emerge, no one can tell what currently acceptable words or ideas may be excommunicated tomorrow.”

I’m not in full support of every claim made by The Observer in that article, but the majority of it makes sense. It’s a poignant observation and it draws a line in the sand between S.J.W’s, their bulldozers, and those they’re told it’s trendy to hate.

The Observer points out the monstrous maelstroms of confusion that S.J.W’s create.

Such as:

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We get that S.J.W’s like to protest. Their right to protest is respected, but what it is that their protests are trying to achieve? What is the end goal? Who benefits? If asked the majority probably couldn’t give an adequate answer.

Take the S.J.W’s support for a war on the rich; their counter-productive boycott of business. Movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the anti-Israel, Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS).

Poverty is to be challenged and real injustices responsibly corrected, but how does boycotting businesses, just because they don’t line up in total ideological conformity with something like same-sex “marriage” fight poverty?  Putting people out of work because they hold an opposing view on these issues seems to only create poverty, not remedy it.

There seems to be confusion in what and how S.J.W’s protest. For example, they’re either against poverty or for same-sex “marriage”. In the end one will trump the other. As we’ve seen in well documented court cases, where Christian businesses have been sued for making a conscientious objection to same-sex “marriage”. It’s logical to conclude that putting people out of a legitimate business, in order to support same-sex “marriage”, means supporting poverty.

Take, for instance, the costly interference in the long standing business relationship between Coopers Beer, and The Australian Bible Society.  S.J.W’s protested that relationship, simply because of the position the Bible Society took on same-sex “marriage”. The precedent that event set is this: businesses can only be friends with those whom S.J.W’s approve of.

The manufactured industrial process of “boycott, hashtag, hashtag… people lose their jobs. Company shuts down. Capitalism is blamed [24hrs passes]. Next victim”. Is a radical cycle that only pads ego, wallet and blog stats. It’s not only narcissistic, it’s exactly what fascists do.

What real purpose does this manufactured “outrage” serve, other than to boost approval ratings, celebrity funding drives or ignite social media with a feel-good fifteen minute hashtag movement, that may live longer if (and that’s a big if) it s attractive enough to go viral?

Is the real concern of S.J.W’s, the marginalised, the minority and the poverty-stricken, or is it their own personal level of “social media influence”?

The militancy of all progressive ideologies are not about “…and justice-for-all.” They stand above, over and against us. They raise themselves to a sinless plain of existence. Sinners are those who’ve been accused of opposing, are being a threat to the prevailing ideology.

Militancy like this rejects original sin. There is no recollection of the equality spoken about by the Apostle Paul when he said, ”for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24).

S.J.W’s forget that there is only one who is sinless, and His name is Jesus Christ. They raise themselves to godlikeness, and operate from within a sphere of sinlessness, and by doing so they place Jesus under humanity, and raise themselves up as saviours of it.

From within this sphere the S.J.W can feel justified in calling for the punishment of those they deem sinful. Failing to comply is an act of treason or blasphemy. Such is the pressure applied to State, Church, business or community groups, who are forced to sign onto the S.J.W agenda without question.

S.J.W militants hand justice over to pseudo-politicians who judge from people’s courts, controlling popular opinion with image, idea, internet, and an index-finger pointed in judgement against blasphemers who speak out against idiotic statements, double standards and the toxic ‘isms which encourage them.

The S.J.W therefore tends not to ask ‘…what can they do for their country?” (John F. Kennedy). Instead they demand that their country do for them what their free country tries to empower them to do for themselves. The power of state and church is wielded in whatever direction the S.J.W commands it to go.

It’s reminiscent of the Soviet leadership who, in the early 1980’s, sort to remind Poland’s Communist leaders that any hint of counter-revolutionary blasphemy among Poland’s largely Christian population, should be suppressed:

“…You should say openly that the law forbids any statements against socialism”
 (“Theses For Conversation With Representatives of the Polish Leadership“, 1980. Vladimir Bukovsky, 1995)

This was not affirmative action. It was bullying through fear, suspicion and threat. The type that coerced people to support the Nazis. It incites the same self-serving action as ‘Judas Iscariot, who went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver Jesus over to you?” Who in return paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment sought an opportunity to betray him.’ (Matthew 26:14-15/ Mark 14:10-11/ Luke 22:3-6) [ii]

The same ‘Judas who protested, after seeing Mary take a pound  of expensive ointment , anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair:

“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the money-bag he used to help himself to what was put into it.’ (John 3:6)

The same Judas who, as the anti-Nazi theologian, Karl Barth wrote:

‘Perverted his office [of Apostle] into the exact opposite; placing Jesus under humanity, instead of humanity under Jesus – to deliver Jesus to sinners, not sinners to Jesus…Judas prepared for Jesus the fate of John the Baptist.’ [iii]

Because Iscariot thought that:

“Jesus was for sale.
He reserved to himself the right to decide for himself, in the face of Jesus, what the way of apostolic discipleship really involves.
It is an indication that his nature and function are those of the apostle who ultimately regrets his own devotion and the devotion of others to Jesus, who would prefer ultimately to use the power of this devotion for something which his own judgement considers to be better […]”
(Barth, [iv])

These statements form Barth’s critique of a people who, in their rejection of Christ, reject themselves; suffering a similar fate of self-destruction that consumed Judas:

‘The one who kills Jesus also kills themselves […]’ [v]

S.J.W’s, by placing Jesus under humanity, make Jesus a slave of ideology. There is no acknowledgement of His Kingship as LORD over all lords, the one who is and was, and is to come! In this way, the power of state and church is wielded in whatever direction the S.J.W commands it to go.

‘Neither man’s headship or humanity’s dominion (lordship) over the earth equals ownership of woman or creation. Humanity’s rule exists, as a gift. It exists in the light of God’s rule and therefore cannot be absolute.’ (Barth. [vi])

The Social Justice Warrior is in many ways the soldier for hire of the progressive ‘liberalist religion’, identified by Eric Voeglin in his 1968 work, Science, Politics & Religion. The Leftist ‘liberalist religion‘ preaches a gospel of ”self-salvation” through works-righteousness and blind allegiance to it’s sinless spheres.

The bloodshed of the 20th century shows that what lies behind this is pride. This coincides with the will-to-dominate, which is, today, masked by the veneer of social justice. This veneer hides the nature of its true intent.

Those who give in to pride, are determined to devour those who stand opposed to it. In this context, pride serves no one, and is guided by nothing, but its own lust for power. Its only interest in mercy, justice and love, is that which advances its own cause.

So goes the Social Justice Warrior and their banner: “peace, love and bureaucracy” [vii]. Preaching a confusing message between #loveislove and the more accurate, God is love.  Then moulding God’s throne of mercy and justice in their own image.

The late, political scientist, Jean Bethke Elshtain was on point when she stated that viewing Christianity As An Ethic Of Universal Niceness Misses The Point:

‘Misunderstandings of Christian teachings are rife. Christianity is not an exalted or mystical form of utilitarianism. Jesus preached no doctrine of universal benevolence. He showed anger and issued condemnations.
These dimensions of Christ’s life and words tend to be overlooked nowadays as Christians concentrate on God’s love rather than God’s justice. That love is sometimes reduced to a diffuse benignity that is then enjoined on believers.This kind of faith descends into sentimentalism fast.’ [vii]

As Paul the Apostle encouraged a young Timothy. Take heed, stand ready to answer with a loving “no”, those who would preach a different doctrine; a different Jesus Christ than the one the early Jewish Christians walked with, witnessed and spoke of:

‘If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.
He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.’
(1 Tm.6:3-5 & 20-21)

Jesus isn’t a Marxist rebel clad in olive drab. He isn’t a golden-haired, blue-eye, bearded, robe wearing guru, sitting on a cloud with rainbows coming out of His ears; sprinkling love dust, answering the lamp rubbing wishes of a group of “super-nice” people, who claim for themselves the moral high-ground [xx]*.

Any person who hands Jesus over to a corrupted, enslaving ideology; any person who chooses to measure Christian discipleship by allegiance to Leftism’s ‘liberalist religion’ , or any equivalent on the Right, are the brethren of Iscariot, not Christ.


References:

[i] Social Justice Warrior, sourced 29th August 2016 from urbandictionary.com

[ii] English Standard Bible, Crossway Publishers

[iii] Barth, K. 1942 The Doctrine of God: The Determination of the Rejected, Church Dogmatics, Hendrickson Publishers  (p.481)

[iv] ibid, 1942 (pp.462 & 463)

[v] ibid, 1942 (p.471)

[vi] Barth, K. 1958 Creation & Covenant: Creation as the External Basis of the Covenant, CD.3:1 Hendrickson Publishers (p.205, paraphrased)

[vii] O’Sullivan, J. 2006. The President, The Pope & The Prime Minister: Three Who Changed The World Regnery Publishing (p.4)

[viii] Elshtain, J. 2008, Just War Against Terror: The Burden Of American Power In A Violent World Basic Books Kindle Ed. (p. 100-101).

[xix] Voegelin, E. 1968 Science, Politics & Religion Regnery Publishing, Inc.

[xx] J. Gresham Machen: ‘The prophets said, “Thus saith the Lord,” but Jesus said, “I say.” We have no mere prophet here, no mere humble exponent of the will of God[…]Jesus here represents Himself as seated on the judgement-seat of all the earth[…] Could anything be further removed than such a Jesus from the humble teacher of righteousness appealed to by [the cult of] modern liberalism?’ (Christianity & Liberalism)

*Charles Spurgeon: ‘some two faced men are hypocrites by nature; slippery as eels, and piebald like Squire Smoothey’s mate. Like a drunken man, they could not walk straight if they were to try…They are born of the breed of St. Judas. The double shuffle is their favourite game, and honesty their greatest hatred. Honey is on their tongues, but gall in their hearts.’ (The Complete John Ploughman, p.115) [added, 23rd November 2017]

(Slightly edited 2nd Edition, updated 2nd November 2018)

©Rod Lampard, 2018

Trending Exploitations

March 2, 2016 — 2 Comments

20151024_111239 bricks

There’s inelegance to this new ignorance,

                             The pompous promotion

                             of itself as intelligence;

         “Fall into line with self-interest”

                              Pride paraded as humanitarian deliverance.

The ones who dare to disagree,

           speak from worn, but true hearts

The ones that don’t,

            “Sigh”, make noises, raise fists and tweet        d[f]arts.

From pampered platforms these boasters repress.

Roasting their enemies over the dark,

                                     widening pit of “progress

Science manipulated, is fact concocted;

             the false substantiality

                                  of a contortion of reality.

Allegiances, that political commodity,

               is

brought and sold for approval and vain popularity.

Like sex, it sells and makes

                 “all experts [have-to] agree.”

Such is the trending exploitation

                                    of tolerance by a minority,

When finding outrage is all the rage,

                                                   Pride legislated spite

                                                   hijacks true civil rights .

                  Feelings over thought;

                  Appearances vs. deeds

Society remolded by neo-Stalinist greed.

         “Convert, pay lip service or pay the ultimate price.”

These new cultural laws;

                 create justified outlaws.

Responsible freedom and fair speech,

          locked up behind gates,

are sent to camps

                 both labelled bigoted and hate.

Yet, these bold political prisoners of war

continue to solemnly state,

                    nowhere in, tolerate,

                    is there the command, to celebrate.


(RL2016)

Jesus among other gods_Ravi Zacharias_Blogpost 15th Nov 2015 PicI’ve just completed Indian-born Canadian, Ravi Zacharias’ 2002, book, ‘Jesus Among Other Gods’.

It wasn’t what I was expecting. Initially, I anticipated there being more of an in-depth academic analysis of the history and differences between Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Western Ideological Progressivism and Christianity. Although an analysis exists, it’s often short. Because of this, at times, it seemed as though Zacharias was too brief and ended his discussions far too quickly.

This doesn’t hinder the potency of the text as a useful resource for deep thinkers. It’s full of take away points worthy of further consideration. His focus is squarely on presenting the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, and how that fact is a relevant challenge to the dominant philosophical and religious apparatus’ that permeate both East and West. Zacharias is aware of his audience and subject; presenting blunt, to-the-point facts and conclusions, drawn from experience and research.

For example:  ‘post-modernism best represents a mood (a potentially dangerous state-of-mind) where reason can be crushed under the weight of feeling.’[i]  It’s a good summary, buttressed by Zacharias’ own admission that

‘the difficulty [in writing the book] was not in knowing what to say, but in knowing what not to say. We are living in a time when sensitivities are at the surface, often vented with cutting words…Philosophically and morally, you can believe anything so long as you do not claim it to be true or a “better” way. Religiously you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it.’[ii]

Consider the well orchestrated neo-tolerant slogan, “religion of peace” vs. the popular rejection of those who authentically (read:humbly) follow the Prince of Peace (Isaiah’s prophetic reference for Jesus Christ – Is.9:6).We live in a fractured and noisy world, Zacharias, in his approach, seeks to move through it.

‘The denial of Christ has less to do with facts and more to do with the bent of what a person is prejudiced to conclude. After years of wrestling with such issues in academia, I have seen this proven time and again.’[iii]

The strength of ‘Jesus Among Other Gods’ is that it is succinct, well indexed and in parts, personal. Zacharias is thorough. Yet, his approach is simple. Jargon is clarified and not carried too far. What exists is an easy discussion on complex topics, close to the heart of someone who has a long history of experience sharing Christian faith and thought, in a mixture of sometimes hostile, cultural and ideological settings.

‘I  [at the age of 17, encountered Jesus Christ] amid the thunderous cries of a culture that has three hundred and thirty million deities.’[iv]

Zacharias makes well-informed assertions only someone raised in an Eastern culture can [v].  With that a unique challenge is placed before Western readers.

‘the concept of “many ways [to God]” was absorbed subliminally in my life as a youngster. I was conditioned into that way of thinking before I found out its smuggled prejudices. It took years to find out that the cry for openness is never what it purports to be. What the person means by saying, “You must be open to everything” is really, “You must be open to everything that I am open to, and anything that I disagree with, you must disagree with too.” Indian culture has that veneer of openness, but it is highly critical of anything that hints at a challenge to it. It is no accident that within that so-called tolerant culture was birthed the caste system. All-inclusive philosophies can only come at the cost of truth.’[vi]

If you’re looking for a strict fact-comparison dictionary of religions and Christianity, this isn’t it. If, on the other hand you’re looking for a good introduction, or to expand on the stark contrast between Jesus Christ and world religions, ‘Jesus Among Other Gods’ is a great place to start.


Notes:

Zacharias, R. 2000 Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of The Christian Message,  Thomas Nelson

[i] Located in the introduction

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] p.50

[iv] p.6

[v] See page 27: ‘I made the assertion earlier that in the East, the home is the defining cultural indicator. Everything that determines who you are and what your future bodes is tied into your heritage and your social standing. Absolutely everything.’

[vi] p.7