Monday, 7 November 2016

Changing Times, Changing Tactics

Facing the Full Court Press of Secularism

The stages of the coming Kingdom of God is a fascinating subject.  The coming of the Kingdom in a nation or continent varies at different states and times.  The seed takes time to grow and manifest its shape.  We must be aware what the the Kingdom is like when the Gospel comes for the first time to a society.  The final stage would be when Christendom in that country is near fully  manifest.  Between the first and the last stages there are several variant stages.  Our Christian duty and our tactics will vary according to the circumstances.

Consider just one example of how Christians mode of operation and interaction with society-at-large may vary.  In the days of the Apostles, as the Gospel went to the Gentiles, virtually everything in society was tainted with idolatry and superstition, whether it was meat at the butcher's shop, or the practice of justice under Pax Romana.  That meant Christians needed to think carefully about how they would buy their meat in a Christ-honouring manner.  It also meant they needed to avoid the law courts, if they possibly could.

Fast forward to times when Christendom have taken the dominant position in a society.
 The markets did not have an idol in sight.  The law courts gave no incantation to the gods, but sought to judge justly according to God's law.  And every school day began and ended with prayer.  In such days, Christians could utilise all these aspects of the coming Kingdom without any, or little, reservation.

The point is that our Christian discipleship and our tactical strategies as servants of the King vary according to the state of the Kingdom of God in our day.

Throughout the West we have been called to live in days of defalcation, of turning away from the Living God, and turning to the idols of Secularism.   The law courts are not safe for Christians anymore--whether we are seeking to use them, or being hauled before them.  Schools belong largely to the secularist apostles.  The churches are empty in many places--little more than architectural signs of a former more Christian age.

How, then, shall we live?  Ironically, we find ourselves living more and more like our brethren in the days of the Apostles.  We are finding ourselves acting as contrarians to established wisdom and social practice.  In some places fines, and even prison, beckon the Christian photographer or baker who chooses not to co-celebrate a homosexual "wedding".  This should not surprise us at all.  If a society turns away from God to idols, even as Israel and Judah did in the post-Solomonic period, everything changes.

Our first response must be to accept humbly (and thankfully) that these are the days in which God has called us to serve Him and His Son.  Secondly, we are to rejoice in the fact that God has counted us worthy to serve Him in such difficult times.  Thirdly, we need to separate as much as possible from ungodly institutions and practices.  As Kuyper once said, in the days of defalcation our isolation is our strength. If we were living in the times of Elijah and Elisha (as in many ways is increasingly the case) we would be joining up to the schools of the prophets, the widows would be baking cakes for the faithful servants of God amongst us, and so forth--even while the Baalites ruled the roost.

There are temptations which become prevalent in such days--which we must also be aware of, and avoid carefully.  Temptations towards cynicism and temptations to develop theologies of  defeat, surrender, and compromise--for example.

Our godly contrarianism must not be allowed to pervert into cynicism--for the cynic is far from the Kingdom.  Rather, we must be marked by a merry and cheerful and certain hope that one day the Kingdom will be restored to former--nay, greater than former, glory and grandeur.  We must call for repentance and know that one day such calls will be both heard and heeded.

Finally, though far from exhaustively, we must continue to love our neighbours as ourselves, endeavouring to do good to all men as we encounter them in our daily lives.  It is time for a constructive loyalty amongst Christian--doing all we can to maintain the unity of the Body in the bonds of peace.  For example, whilst we are not Roman Catholics, we hope for and long for the strength and success of every Roman Catholic school in this country as together we face the full court press of secularism.

And so it rolls.  Godly contrarians, filled with faith and hope, we must be.  It is the calling of the Age.

No comments: