Friday, 9 November 2012

Re-Setting the Chess Board

Truth Will Out, For Good or Ill

The times they are a changin'.  Or, to quote Cornelius Van Til,  both Belief and Unbelief, Christians and their opponents move inevitably over time to greater and greater epistemological self-consciousness.  The core conflict between Belief and Unbelief bubbles to the surface, as each becomes more true to itself and its fundamental axioms and beliefs.  The internal logic of a belief position works itself out.  Inconsistencies, throwbacks, restraints get removed.  Faiths become more faithful; their inevitable consequences increasingly reified and manifest. 

When socialism first became endorsed, then advocated by the Establishment, particularly in the United Kingdom, it had trappings of the Christian faith festooned on its battlements.
  Socialism was nothing other than a planned, serious commitment to the poor and downtrodden.  Socialism represented a Christianisation of the nation by other means.  It was the Christian ethic in practice.  Consequently, Christian socialists were two a penny.  It has oft been noted that the founder of the British Labour Party was a Christian, Keir Hardy.  Conformist and non-conformist denominations in the UK rapidly came under the thrall of socialist ideology.  The Salvation Army from its inception was broadly committed to socialist ideals--at least that's how modern Sallies regard their past. 

Today presents a very different picture.  The old historical denominations still cling to their socialist ideologies--in modern parlance, to their progressive left wing sympathies--but their congregations are shrinking.  True believers have found the faith of the mainstream denominations to be at odds with the Scripture; they have departed to more consistent and faithful ecclesiastical manifestations of the Christian faith.  The only vibrant components of the dying denominational hulks are evangelical churches and sub-groups within the historical churches.

Meanwhile in the broader community, socialist ideology has become more and more secular, more transparently God-hating.  It is becoming more epistemologically self-conscious.  We have seen the same patterns develop in New Zealand.  While older denominations such as the Presbyterian Church Aotearoa, and the Methodist Church, together with a good deal of Anglicanism, and a great deal of Roman Catholicism still cling to an unholy alliance between the Christian Gospel and socialism, the socialists have increasingly spurned, ridiculed, and rejected Christianity.  The most recent socialist government in New Zealand--Helen Clark's Labour coalition--was sneeringly anti-Christian and rabidly secularist.  The churches and Christians were nothing more than useful idiots, occasionally coming forth endorsing socialist causes or enunciating welfarist slogans, but still just a relic of a more primitive age. 

In the United States the Democratic party is the traditional home of socialist ideology.  It, too, is moving very quickly into much more consistently secularist positions.  At its recent convention, mention of God provoked booing from the floor.  Much more consistent positions were taken on abortion (more of it by all means), and homosexuality (a good thing and a high-value human right), along with the more traditional socialist concerns of welfarism, egalitarianism, and redistribution of property.  Roman Catholics, long traditional supporters of the Democratic party, are actively campaigning against it in the current presidential election.  Black Christian leaders, long stalwarts of the Democratic party, are now calling for a mass exodus of black Christians from the party.  The Christians and the socialists are parting ways: both are becoming more epistemologically self-conscious.  This is a work of God's Spirit.

Peter Hitchens talks about this phenomenon when he observes that the leftists have reached the point where they regard Christians and Jesus Christ as their prime enemies.
God is the leftists' chief rival.  Christian belief, by subjecting men to divine authority and by asserting in the words, "My kingdom is not of this world" that the ideal society does not exist in this life, is the most coherent and potent obstacle to secular utopianism.  Christ's reproof of Judas--"the poor always ye have with you"--when Judas complains that precious ointment could have been sold to feed the poor rather than applied to Jesus' feet (see John 12:1--8 KJV) is also a stumbling block and an annoyance to world reformers.

By putting such socialistic thoughts in the mouth of the despised traitor-to-be Judas, and by stating so baldly the truth known to all conservatives that poverty cannot be eradicated, the Bible angers and frustrates those who believe that the pursuit of a perfect society justifies the quest for absolute power.

The concepts of sin, of conscience, of eternal life, and of divine justice under an unalterable law are the ultimate defense against the utopian's belief that the ends justify means and that morality is relative.  These concepts are safeguards against the worship of human power.  [Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), p. 134f.]
In the US also, the Republican Party remains deeply divided.  The "establishment" of the party believes in a divine right to rule and is sympathetic to fast following every radical impulse of the Democratic party.  Socialised medicine, for example, is horrific if the Democrats do it, but we Republicans will do it bigger, brighter, smarter and better.  Meanwhile, the Tea Party is far more committed to the Christian faith, and is actively seeking more and more consistent outworkings of the Christian faith in every area of life. 

Truth will out, for good or ill--but epistemological self-consciousness is always a good and necessary thing.  When evil shows its true colours, it may not be pleasant, it will undoubtedly cause much suffering, but it is a necessary aspect to the coming of the Kingdom of God upon the earth. 

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