Back to Part 1: Fundamentalism
The Issues of the Right in General
What is destroying America?
Is Society Good or Bad?
Capitalism: God's System or Worship of money?
•(Where the cycle begins)
Our flawed assessment of our system versus socialism
Unrest: The Price of Prosperity
Many Christian Leaders just as Materialistic as Everyone Else
The Generation Gap
Kingdom Dominion theology
God's Kingdom or Our Control?
Civil Religion is just a justification of the State, not the Truth of the Gospel
(From part 3) Selfism, the Ultimate Issue
These are issues where the right in general are in agreement. Christians address these issues in
their judgments of society, but as they are not particularly church issues, all Conservatives share
the convictions. In some of them, the secular conservatives are more outspoken. Since many
Christians do agree, these issues are treated here. Keep in mind, that much of the rhetoric has
calmed down a bit, due to the reasons cited in the beginning. Yet, many people still hold the
same views, assumptions and attitudes as before, even though they may not be as vociferous as
before. Yet, it does still come out in literature and preaching. For instance, Most Christians who
felt that the Country was godly in the past and that the Left is what destroyed it, still feel that
way. It got to the point that this "fact" is so "established" and "obvious", but what else can we do
about it, that there is no point beating our heads against the wall screaming about it. So new
methods of making political commentaries have emerged; the most popular now being end-time
novels, where Antichrist arises out of leftist politics, and once the good Christians are
"raptured", all hell breaks loose. Also there are some Conservative Christian issues that are not
particularly "old-line fundamentalist", but are basically agreed on by both branches of the
What is destroying America?
Time and time again, I read about the "myths that could destroy America" as the title of one book put it, and they always included the same things: "Life evolved by chance", "Workers should control the means of production", "We can ignore the 'ghost' of Karl Marx.", "Family roles should be reversed", and then, sexual morality, the ban on prayer, and many other issues all related to the above. All of these things are in some way related to Darwin, Marx and Freud, plus feminism. These same scapegoats, every single time! These three men have been set up as the ultimate trinity of evil, and along with feminism, are made out to be the sole cause of all the problems in the Christian world. But nothing is ever said about some other myths, unless they were being affirmed:
It's these myths that have been behind all the environmental, racial and economic tensions that have been "destroying America" these past several decades. It's the militias and others, holding these myths; defending them, that have already done more violence to the nation and threaten more. But conservatives and old-time Christian leaders just won't deal with this. These are CONSERVATIVE myths, and conservatives would much rather focus on the liberal doctrines, which is what they have been condemning.
And if that weren't enough, because the media has exposed many of the corruptions of American
businesses, churches, the police, our history, etc., some get ANGRY because it destroys the
whole image of purity they are trying to present to the world. They go into complete denial, and
blast "liberal media bias" against conservatives, Republicans, and corporations/private enterprise (capitalism), and
for "rewriting" history. The absurdity of this should be obvious, because the media is a private enterprise, consisting of
American corporations, and they expose anybody they can get dirt on. Just look at all of
President Clinton's follies, from his time as governor of Arkansas, to the impeachment issues.
Wouldn't they go easy on him if it was only Republicans they were after? And there is a large
Conservative segment of the media. Rush Limbaugh, Bob Grant and various others are more
prominent than any liberal counterparts they may have, and Grant has gotten away with a lot of
bad race rhetoric, being bumped by one station, only to be picked up by another. Black Muslim leaders
would never have it that easy, even though people like Reed Irvine and his Accuracy In Media
claimed that the media is so biased against whites in favor of blacks and the "socialist" programs
that benefit them. But using all of this conspiratorial language, they palm themselves off as the
innocent victims who have been deprived of their rights, stripped of their power, while ghetto
savages are taking over. Sine's Cease Fire deals with this conspiratorial mind-set well.
Is Society Good or Bad?
And it's amazing how conservatives like this can't really seem to decide whether this country is
really good or bad or not. They blast the moral slide and adoption of left wing politics, but then
when the lack of some other morals are pointed out; which knocks them off the pious pedestal
they set themselves up on, then society is wonderful again. It's all the "Negative one-sided
deceptive reporting" of the "biased, slanted liberal media", and therefore, the conservatives are
once again the good, innocent victims of the liberals and their dastardly slanderous plots. Talk
about "negativity", just look at the irony of Reagan's statement in the 1992 campaign: "From
listening to the democrats talk, you wouldn't know that our standard of living is the highest in the
world"; yet at the same exact time this same rhetoric machine coddled the "angry middle class"
who complained about taxes and affirmative action even though those things had not even
prevented them from enjoying that 'standard of living' their hero bragged about. So in reality, it was
from listening to the Republicans, you wouldn't have known that America's standard of living
was the highest. You would think the entire nation of working people was poor from taxation, and that ghetto
single parent families had the highest standard of living.
Capitalism: God's System or Worship of money?
And this whole worship of money is just another factor in the lack of morality in the culture. Christian leaders may blame all of this on the "loss of values", which they think is purely the fault of non-Christians and their philosophies, but it goes back much further than that. Man, in his fallen state is a needy creature. He needs things, and therefore wants things. And even when he gets, he still wants more.
Yet Christians kept blaming it all on the 'atheistic influenced materialism' of the wayward, rebellious younger generations. They have laid all blame on Darwin and Marx because their beliefs denied the existence of anything beyond the material realm (hence, materialism), (even though Marx was against the abuses of money by the rich, and even the state government was against his wishes!). But the Church, which goes much further back than the modern atheistic movement, and not too long ago, dominated the Western world, certainly wasn't all that pure either in this area. From the onset, as soon as Constantine made it the official religion of the empire, the church rapidly grew in power and pomp. They began building huge cathedrals, and the leaders lived like kings (while often, the public was in squalor). The church had all the power and influence to instill non-materialistic, Biblical values to the entire 'civilized' world, but instead, they glamorized wealth, often claiming the actual Kingdom of Heaven was on earth then, and so, the entire western world followed suit in valuing kingly, material wealth as the highest goal in life; —i.e. it did nothing to challenge the innate fallen desire to have as much as one can. So this civilization, backed by the church, began to TAKE whatever it wanted— the exploitation of colonization of weaker peoples for their own gain; so THEY could have as much land, gold, diamonds, free manpower, and control as they could get. They stole both people and resources from Africa, stole the entire Western hemisphere, built this country up, using all of that, into what Reagan said in the 1992 Republican Convention, the "model of prosperity"; yet, the descendants of those people act now like all this crime, sin and 'materialism' that is 'destroying the country' is some new creation of recent non-Christian influences.
A country that was founded on all of this as the means of building itself up and becoming powerful and prosperous was DESTINED to become a haven of this "get by any means necessary" philosophy, because the ATTITUDES behind both the colonial sins and the modern are the same: that material prosperity, power and leisure are the highest goals in life, and the determination to acquire them by any means necessary— from workaholism to outright robbery or deception. (We pride ourselves on our "diligence", or "productivity"; a response to Ron Sider's Rich Christians in an age of Hunger was Reconstructionist David Chilton's Productive Christians in an age of Guilt Manipulators, which argues that poor countries were being punished for being ungodly and "unproductive"). But much of this "work ethic" is not ethical at all, but is the "duty to self" ethic, being materialistic, and other neurotic reasons, such as a person being bored with himself. Work, like anything else we do is supposed to glorify God. If it is just for us, then we are no more moral than the supposed lazy "moochers"!) Indeed, many black criminals have justified crimes with "the white man does it"— the colonizers, slave-owners, and even modern businessmen, politicians, and even police and ministers —the very "law and order"/moral system! What examples! So how can they blame everyone else for this lack of values in the society?
The excesses of capitalism are defended as "the rightful earnings of 'diligence' and 'hard work'".
But this assumes that everything in this system is completely fair and perfect. If you want more,
just work harder. But many top level positions make ridiculously high money, while the business
or govt. agency cuts back on services, quality, or the jobs and wages of its workers. That right
there, the last point being included in the complaints of the conservative middle class (but
always blamed on blacks (until recently, at least) and the govt. somehow), ought to show them that this "everyone gets
what they earned" idea is ridiculous. Plus, what about the idle rich (inheritors, investors, etc),
and outright white collar crooks? I look at all the cheap quality food and products put out by big
business, all to cut costs (and especially those aimed at minorities), while the executives of all
those businesses prosper, and I say "and this is 'earning' it? This is' productive'?"
Way back in the 70's, I began noticing the high prices of small snacks at enclosed transportation terminals and other facilities (such as airports, theaters, etc). I saw it as pretty dirty that people would take any opportunity such as this to charge ridiculous prices, but conservatives, including Christians, seemed to think this was so moral and fair. There are many products I could think of that are just thrown together and sold cheaply, while ones that are of good quality are more expensive, and I wonder how much more it really costs to make some of these things better. We've all heard the expression "they don't make _______ like they used to". Has anyone thought why? I watched in the 70's, as common items and toys just plummeted into total cheesiness, as the prices continued to rise at the same time (as well as the lifestyles of the CEO's which began to be widely publicized in the "greed is good" 80's). It is frequently said that cars used to be built to last decades, now they're not. And it seems to be somewhat noticed how many products break down right after the warranty expires (of course, a more expensive longer warranty is offered). Meanwhile, many of these products would have outrageous advertising claims, that often defied natural laws, but then the product couldn't even perform the natural task it was supposed to, let alone the incredible feats claimed. Like the glue that claimed to be able to hold an airplane together, or hold a man's entire weight dangling from a construction helmet glued to a beam; yet, it couldn't hold up the little glass mirror panels we used it on, or eyeglass frames or anything else like that! Almost all "as seen on TV" items are like this. For items (usually bagged or boxed food) that the price doesn't rise on, the quantity would decrease, ever subtly. Then, eventually, the original size would reappear at a higher price. Yet with all this scheming and manipulating, people think these companies "deserve" every penny!
As time goes on, even more sneaky tricks are devised; especially for example, with tech gadgets and software, which break down easily, clash with others, etc. (so much stuff the developers "missed") and are too complex for most users to figure out. Then, all of a sudden, technical support, which had always been a free call, now gets price tags of $50-100, and you're then advised to gain the information for free online, but it's not available or complete. At every turn, companies have just invented new ways to sap every penny they can from consumers, yet I continue to debate with people who think they "earned" all their riches!
But the logic behind it is "you get what you pay for". "If you just 'work hard enough', you would make more money and afford better things". Then, they'll remind us that it's only because of "competition" that prices stay low (a supposed good point of capitalism), but as this shows, any chance they get, the sky's the limit. This is why "supply side [trickle down theory] economics" is flawed. It takes a good idealistic theory (just as Marx did), but ignores that people will follow it to a certain point, but there is nothing stopping them from finding loopholes to get around it. But Conservatives and Christian leaders can easily shell out whatever money is charged, so it is no big deal to them. The system is still good to them. Likewise with education; people will get mad when black kids cop out and try to live off of welfare or crime, instead of "pulling up their bootstraps" through education. But to people like me and my wife, who are doing it the "bootstraps" way, tuition and school books can wipe out a decent paycheck. Even loans have ridiculously high interest that quickly adds up. Where are all the cries from the angry middle class about this? They either have the money or some were helped alot by their parents, or still, they may struggle, but never think to question this like they do with taxes that are supposedly wasted on programs for the "lazy". Once again, private business can do no wrong; it's only the government that is bad.
They then will even go as far as to project themselves into the rich executives' shoes by saying they wouldn't want to work if their money is taken away, in opposing the taxing of the rich; thus, like blind sheep, making the argument for them. Yet they don't stop to think that they are working, and money is being taken from them; not just by taxes, but by higher prices, lower quality, and they are given more work as the companies downsize. Hence; it's already being "redistributed"! Yet their logic would actually imply that they aren't working hard enough. Or as some will argue, they know that the rich "took risks" they they didn't want to take. So on one hand, they accept their lot, when comparing themselves to the rich; but then they are still complaining about the way things are; just blaming taxes, and defending the rich as being in the same camp as they are in that respect. Who said that taking a risk entitles one to have recreations that are more then most people's annual income (such as $89,000 pheasant hunts mentioned during the bank bailout!), even if the economy collapses? Then, you have "Joe the Plumber", representing the quintessential "average American" in the 2008 election. While becoming increasingly critical of McCain, he still said he did not "scare" him as much as Obama, whose "wealth redistribution" (as McCain put it) was close to "socialism". Obama had made it clear that Joe's income bracket would get a tax decrease rather than increase. But because he was willing to tax anyone, then it would still somehow come to affect him eventually. So without any evidence in support of this, he began speculating that maybe the $250,000 (as "rich") limit would not be enough, and it would be lowered to $100,000; thus affecting him. Of course, a Republican can do the same thing, promising "no new taxes" at all; yet nevertleless raise them after elected, as we saw with Bush Sr. But it seems that in this "Average Joe American" unthinking mindset, "you tax the rich, you tax me"; yet we have had nearly three decades of "the rich take all, and let it trickle down to everyone else" philosophy, and look where it has brought us. Let Obama scrap all the taxes for the rich, and see if it will give Joe more, now!
It's like a "big fish eats medium fish eats little fish" food chain. The middle fish don't like being eaten by the big fish, but in this case, the spokesmen of the big fish have actually convinced the middle fish that it's the little fish's fault they're in the plight they're in. So the medium fish will tell the little fish "life is not fair" when they get eaten, while defending the entire heirarchy (as if it were "fair"!), even though the outcome is not good for them either. Then, they'll shout "not fair" when someone else threatens either them or even the big fish who they look up to, not realizing they're the ones eating them! The irony here is astounding! They're telling others not to expect life to be fair, while at the same time expecting it to be fair for themselves. They criticize others for "whining" right in the process of whining themselves! The whole idea at the bottom of all this is the diligent nature of those who have made it in society as opposed to the apparent "laziness" of those who haven't. Hence, concepts like "fairness" shift depending on who is demanding it.
What was most ironic was how most Christians, led by their right wing leaders, took communism's atheistic philosophy to label them "materialistic", but then praised capitalism as "God's system" —based on "biblical values". The very definition of capital is basically "wealth"; and also "any source of profit, advantage and power" (Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 1988). So here is an "ism" (just like communism, atheism, etc) based on wealth, profit, advantage and power. And that's just what everyone in this system strives for, and it has developed into a dog-eat-dog system of anything-goes competition and stepping on others, especially the weak and poor, to get to the top. And the common people are even manipulated into supporting this by appealing to their needs or interests. Law is the perfect example of this, where people are encouraged to sue for anything. Working for years in the courts, it amazed me seeing the thousands upon thousands of case files per year. Why can one get sued for using a trademark or slogan, even positively? It's for all purposes, free advertising! Could it be that the lawyers are instigating all of this based on peoples desire to make more money? Years ago, there appeared subway car ads for a firm showing a person having his arm crushed by huge sprocketry, another on an operating table all opened up, and the surgeons are gasping from having done something wrong, another breaking his back digging, another showing one driver smashing into another driver's car, and get this one— a mother's baby poisoned by lead paint. She and the others all have big grins and thumbs up at their calamity! It is actually good to have these horrible things happen to you and your child, because you're gonna become rich from it! It seems free money is now worth more than health! (But of course, it's the "welfare" people who are condemned for not "earning" their money!)
Meanwhile, corporations have little money for the services they are supposed to provide. They constantly cut back and raise prices. Then, they fold, even while the executives' incomes rise. All of this transcends Right and Left, businesses and governments. That's why all this fingerpointing is so hypocritical. It was these conditions that led people to start socialism in the first place. The greed of the rich at the expense of the poor (Even though that system ultimately led to the same thing). For all these years, we've condemned Communism as "the evil empire"— some inexcusable wicked Satanic conspiracy against 'human freedom' and God, and praised a system based on the 'love of money' above human life. I often wonder if there really are any "services" in capitalism. The whole goal is making money, so the product is just a means to an end. If you can find another means, you abandon the service (lower quality, bankruptcy, liquidation, closings/relocation for cheap labor). I saw all of this growing up in the 70's and 80's and then heard Religious Right leaders (who themselves seemed to be apart of this money-oriented system) say that this was God's system, and that it was the OTHER system that was "materialistic"! It was mind-blowing! Karl Hess in Dear America also mentioned the irony of Americans in the 50's, whose entire lives were then becoming increasingly wrapped up in materialism calling the Communists "dialectical materialists".
Michael Horton's Beyond Culture Wars excellently treated this issue. While making sure to point out his belief that this system is better in practical matters, he puts both in perspective:
Both Marxism and capitalism are cut from he same cloth of Enlightenment modernity...neither seeks the spiritual good of society. Both systems have much in common philosophically; they both believe that human beings are basically good, and that if things go terribly wrong, it is because of the social structures that have failed to adequately "nurture" them or unleash their possibilities. Both are offspring of the secular experiment, and by confusing capitalism with with Christianity, we are not only historically naive (ignoring its roots in the Renaissance and Enlightenment), but are incapable then of really assessing the spiritual damage either secular experiment has caused to the human spirit. Furthermore, both are idolatrous: Capitalism replaces God and His prominence with the "Invisible Hand of the Market" whereas Marxism makes an idol of the state. One looks to the state as the liberator, the other to the market, but both are essentially materialistic and hostile to spiritual realities. That is why a Solzhenitsyn can come to America and find the same disillusionment, despair, and nihilism he knew so well under a Marxist state.
When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn came to America for refuge, evangelicals found immense pleasure in his attacks on Marxism and his calls for moral repentance and spiritual awakening. And yet, many seemed to miss his attacks on the West— not only for its sexual immorality (which seems to be about the only form of immorality some conservatives worry about), but for its greed and exploitation. What Solzhenitsyn favored was not an American-style democracy over a Soviet-style dictatorship, but rather the end of ideological regimes altogether. In other words, the "ideological war" itself was the problem, regardless of the particular side one took. Both presuppose rationalism, human goodness, and autonomy, and at the same time reduce man to a merely economic animal whose whole existence is nothing more than factors of production and consumption. It's just that one explicitly rejects heaven and the other simply elects to ignore it. (P.55-57)
Of course, one big difference is the fact that western capitalism allowed organized religion to thrive, so was therefore seen as being "friendly" to God, while the other system was atheist. But still, Horton notes:
While attacking Marxism as godless statism, evangelicals have failed to realize that Marxism and free market capitalism are twin sisters of modernity, and...godless capitalism is just as great a threat to the soul, if not the pocket book. By reducing human beings to consumers, making nearly all social relationship depend on competition, and shrinking human life down to purely economic determinism, modern capitalism is just as dangerous to the soul— in part because of its marriage to religion, where apathy reigns in the face of every enemy except the threat to the "American Way of Life". (p.74)
Note the statement in the first quote that both believe man is good and only affected by bad environments. This is a frequent charge leveled at the Left, but the Right is equally guilty. If Marxist theory is wrong to say that capitalism causes man to be greedy (and therefore, the government must control), thus ignoring the Biblical doctrine of sin, then what was the Right's (backed by the Christians) alternative? Since the problem is sin, greed is inevitable. So let not the government regulate, but encourage "freedom" to gain as much as one can. (This becomes the power of the market). After all, they "earned" it, and that is godly. (Citing 2 Thess.3:10) We'll just preach morality at them to try and control them that way. (After all, in the ideal Christian society, "liberty" means "freedom to do right, not freedom to sin", as the Christians remind us in the First Amendment debates). But since that didn't work, and greed, decadence, and all other sins did run rampant, we just claim it's all the fault of "materialistic, godless Marxism"! This is what has been going on, with leaders such as D. James Kennedy going as far as preaching that "all our problems come from socialism"! All of this is based on the notions of people being "better" and that they will always do right, (even if a little moral push is needed) and thus need no government. But here is where we've deceived ourselves. People will take advantage and corrupt that system too. We have been encouraging all of the natural selfish social tendencies of people in this hedonistic society, and then decrying it's moral manifestations (and blaming them on someone else!) If this system is the way it is because of our sin nature, then what business have we calling it God's system. Also, if we favor this system (or the Right in general) because it's the "lesser of two evils", then we are being tricked into supporting evil, under the guise of it not being as bad as someone else ("them", the "other side"). This is how this two-horned "false prophet" will deceive all sides, including conservatives.
It's so ironic to see conservatives condemn and want to regulate people's own personal lives under the pretext of "morality", but then advocate "total freedom" for powerful business leaders whose decisions affect everyone. They feel that they can just regulate away the "morality" problem, and everything would be alright. Many even make a distinction between what they call "personal" ethics (sex, abortion, etc), and a broader category which would include business policy, social concerns, etc. They say "well, you can't do anything about social ethics, so all we can do is try to get 'personal' ethics in line". But what are a person's business or social decisions but personal choices? So those are apart of personal ethics. So all of this shows the lopsided nature of people's concepts of "morality", totally preoccupied with sex.
I just can't stop wondering why the conservative Christians insisted on supporting rich business. What does fighting for tax reductions for six-figure income families, and against "regulations" and "price limits" (as some ministries have undertaken) have to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? (We're just giving them more mammon to further distract them away from God). James tells Christians about this favoritism of the rich and says "But you have dishonored the poor. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into courts, and blaspheme that holy name by which you are called?" (James 2:6, 7) We really need to think about this. Don't we always complain about 'persecution' from the powerful— such as "anti-God bias" in the media, education and government, plus ungodly entertainment, etc.? Well, these are apart of the same rich class they support, only they always separate between the big bad government, education institutions and media, and poor innocent [other] corporations. They fear so much a [leftist] "one world government", or "new world order" that persecutes business, but fail to see how business is also going global, especially with the end of the Cold War. This all came out a few years ago, when there was a controversy over Christians asking businesses to impose sanctions against countries that persecute Christians, only to get snubbed. These businesses are not about to let something like that stop them, and once again the Christians cried "materialism!", not realizing that this is simply the NATURE of this system. They had been feeding the mouth that bites them!
So for all those years, we had the nerve to call another political system "materialistic" and greedy, and talked about their "godlessness", yet WE acted like there was no God— except for money and power, the very things we condemned Russia for. This is OUR system; not Marx's fault.
To get an idea of the utter practical worship of this system by people, including Christians, we can just look at some things told to me in an online Christian debate:
Workers DO have the same rights as 'big busness' does, but they dont have the same rights as the owners and other decision makers in the business..."
[So these PEOPLE have the same rights as an abstract entity called "big business", but they do not have the same rights as other PEOPLE who have simply managed to gain some status!]
"You're thinking like an employee, and not like an owner"
[Like they are two different species, or adult vs. child or something!]
"30,000 deadwood workers...a bunch of chattel..."
"...Only for people who are worth fifty cents an hour, with no healthcare and unhealthy working conditions, if that's what the market dictates"
"Some people are better than others in life's horse race..."
"Sounds vicious? Well maybe it is, but owner's game, owner's rules"
"...like the rest of our loutish, low level workforce"
"...Only for people who are worth fifty cents an hour, with no healthcare and unhealthy working conditions, if that's what the market dictates"
"Some people are better than others in life's horse race..."
"Sounds vicious? Well maybe it is, but owner's game, owner's rules"
"...like the rest of our loutish, low level workforce"
A lot of the rhetoric here is outright DANGEROUS! This is why this ideology often gets called Nazi or Fascist. Think of the worst nightmare in Right Wing Conservativism: totalitarian Communism or socialism. But here, way on the other side of the spectrum, we see people reduced to worthless good for nothing things, just because they are not running the company. This is the same type of thing dictatorships like Communism were about; only in that system, it is a "government" ruling, dictating and profiting rather than private enterprises or a nebulous deity called "the market". But the two systems can easily become the other, and as will be discussed shortly, people have noted that the political spectrum is actually a circle rather than a two-ended line.
(And on that point, if it is all about market and private ownership, then why in govt. agencies do you also see executives making way much more than everyone else? Also, I think that sports and entertainment "workers" make way too much money as well, but nobody questions that because the almighty market says they are "worth" it, and they would rather focus on lazy workers (the ones who aren't 'entertaining' us) or welfare bums and other 'liberal govt. programs' when an entire week's paycheck is blown on a sports game or other entertainment venue like Disneyworld, movies, etc.)
And yes, the owners may have a tremendous amount of responsibility, but to make them "worth" more as people ignores how the amount they are making is rising much higher over the years, when the job is the same, yet the cost of living also rises making it harder for everyone else.
It's highly ironic, because conservatives who say this stuff will scream "socialist" when anyone mentions "class struggle", but that is clearly what you are describing with this whole division between people based on "worth"!
Both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and others began realizing that this class issue is what was really succeeding racism. (And that was when the both of them became politically "dangerous" enough to finally be eliminated after all those years of leading civil rights).
It's all based on this scale of "worth", with some be "better" than others. First, it was a combination of skin color, plus "industriousness" versus supposed "laziness". Then you had the Nazi system, where it was race only; and despite the Jews' well known "industriousness" which was then actually blamed for the problem and used as another indicator of their worthlessness, rather than "laziness". Then after the skin color became politically incorrect in recent times, it was only "industriousness" people were judged on. But it was all based on this same method of "worth", and it ignores that everyone who is not a corporate owner, executive or investor is not a lazy "lout". Everyone can't be an executive. So then, it becomes a Darwinian "survival of the fittest" struggle, and that may be "the way it is", but then if you use that as an excuse to look down on "little people" as "worth less", then we are just setting up another ideological dictatorship that reduces humanity down to just animals in a jungle. That can only lead to chaos, whether it is done under the banner of an eagle or a bear. (Or an elephant or donkey to get it started).
These debates always come down to "my side is all good, and [I can only see] the other side doing all the wrong". But PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE, and they will ALL tend to try to get over on the system, and be greedy, while some on both sides will be honest. This back-and-forth left wing—right wing rhetoric can only keep everyone blind, pointing the finger at the other side, and on the premise of being the persecuted victim, set up some radical system where they become the persecutors themselves. It doesn't matter which "wing" it will be done through. But it's the "us versus them" mentality of separating people based on class or anything else as if they were fundamentally different in nature; "bad" or "better" creatures that must be curbed, if anything is ever to get better.
The more I think about those comments above; it's downright scary: "the market" determines your whole "worth" based on production, and if you don't have a lot of this worth, then when the market determines that prices should be higher, your money is not your money! This sounds like the worst dictatorship you could think of. Yet it is disguised behind a premise of "freedom" and giving people material trinkets and amusements; get them hooked, and then they will pay just about any price for it (And this justifies the rises) and if you are in debt from it, oh, just blame taxes.
Conservatives like this deny class struggle, but if your concept of "worth"/"value" is correct, then what is it but a struggle of "class" with the strongest winning? "Might makes right".
This, "market", based on public demand, is the same exact force that determines that decadent entertainers are so rewarded as well; and that every move of the latest blonde bimbo is chronicled daily in the papers and TV. It also determines that homosexuality, abortion and all other sexual sins are in, and God and morality are out. However, many of the same conservatives who pitch for the market so much want to get government to regulate that stuff, though, (i.e. "neoconservativism") and of course direct the blame for it at the left, instead of it being part of the nature of the free market. Stuff like prices that affect everyone directly should be totally free, but we have always thought that what people do with their own bodies, or which God they pray or not pray to should be controlled.
The "worth" concept cuts to the heart of the whole issue. And the fact that it is "worth" contradicts the conservatives' claim that it is "hard work". They emphasize work when blaming Welfare for everything and criticizing the liberals, but if people were to be entertained by a person sitting and twiddling their thumbs, and were willing to pay to see it, the person would apparently be "worth" it, but they are not doing "hard work".
Just like the discussion of the minimum wage. The reason why it is said not to work all boils down to the companies finding ways to recover the costs, by cutting services, jobs or prices. This is being treated as some universal law like gravity, but no one forces them to do those things; it really men being greedy to protect their own fat paychecks: if I can't have all that I think I deserve, then no one gets. Sure, there is no easy solution to this. I agree that govt. is no help, because to curb those effects, they would have to do stuff like salary and price caps, but then the companies will just find some other loophole or way to recover the cost, perhaps taking their business elsewhere, and collapsing the economy altogether, if nothing else. But while this may be the way things are, these people are still not God, with absolute sovereign rights, and absolutely no accountability to anyone but "the market". So we should at least acknowledge their greed, and stop blaming everything only on liberals and lazy bums, as if the corporate world cannot help it; it's the liberals who make them do what they do, or "the market" that makes them do it. (But I see that excuses for one's behavior and having others blamed is another "right" that comes with the turf of power and status in this jungle). The person I debated with even pointed to Christ's parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt.20:1-16), to prove that God favors "the owner's rights". But the point that is being missed is that the owner of the vineyard represented GOD, and neither human owners of companies, nor the abstract entity called "the market" are to be exalted to His level of authority; however, all too often, it seems that this is just what is in practice done. This surely is making an idol of "the invisible hand of the market" as Horton said!
The blindness as to the real issue was showcased in a NY Daily News article arguing that "100G ain't so rich". (Mike Barnicle, 1-12-03) The family used as an example makes $125,000 between both working partners, and the article shows how this is quickly eaten up by taxes, payments on their house and two cars, daycare, car and heating fuel, clothes, a Disney World vacation, a computer and savings for college for the kids, and the rest of the costs of living, leaving them in debt. Not to be outdone, the New York Post then ran an article showing how even 200G is just "scraping by", in Brooklyn (Andrea Peyser, 5-7-03). This family's expenses include mortgage on a one bedroom loft in a fancy brownstone neighborhood (Barnicle's 100G family lived in the suburbs), and $20,000 for a private school for one of the children (since public middle schools are so bad), and $260 for a parking spot, as well as, of course, the "bloodsucking taxes" also blamed in part on the rising maintenance costs. Of course, the point of all of this is "don't be so quick to tax 'six-figure income families', or don't oppose them getting tax cuts". A side note, this ignores all of the people who make less and do without many of those items, and often struggle just to maintain the necessities. (Such as living in run down buildings or neighborhoods, or even mediocre ones, and not having a car or nice vacations, and still "scrape by", as is my story). So to many, that is still "rich", but people generally become used to their standard of living and see themselves as average, if not struggling. It's true that "if we only had more", we'd only spend more, leaving us in the same situation. While this is often reminded to the people with less by Christian financial experts and others who then tell them to "manage their money better", make cuts if necessary, or to "be thankful for what they have"; this 'upper middle class' low-end of the six figure bracket is usually coddled by the same people, with taxes being blamed for their plight, and much shouting at the government to fix this "injustice".
Yes, it is ridiculously hard to survive in the New York area, even with that money, but still, it seems the only expense here ever being questioned is taxes. Isn't it ridiculous that houses, cars, education and even a vacation in a well-propped plastic theme park drain so much money? And what about the upper end of the six-figure scale, plus the millionaires and billionaires controlling all of this? (Who are also often defended by the same people and also given tax cuts!) With all the talk about "lazy non-workers", what about the "idle rich" (investors, heirs, etc)?
While everybody wants their income to rise to meet the costs of living, including the top executives, sports and entertainers, etc., the difference with them is that they are in more of a position where they can keep raising theirs to meet higher and higher standards, while the rest of us can't, and must accept what is left over. (How many of us can get a raise just about any time we ask for it, or even every time there is a rise in profits?) But does anyone think where all that money they keep flowing to themselves and increasing is coming from? Maybe it's the costs themselves, as well as even taxes spent on other causes and govt. waste, rather than only "government programs" eating up the money. If the average person is losing money, then it must be going somewhere; and if the executives, (as well as pop culture, etc) are gaining money; then it must be coming from somewhere. Now put two and two together! Aliens have not come and taken money and resources off of the earth. It's all still here; only being concentrated in certain places! (And it's not the poor getting all of it, either, as has virtually been claimed for decades until recently!)
But nobody questions this. People seem to think "you can't change that; it's too entrenched", or "that's just the market", but then it seemed that the high taxes and liberal programs like welfare and affirmative action were also entrenched back in more liberal days, but with enough outcry, they began to be overturned. But why only those things and not high prices and executive largess? Some liberals tossed around ideas such as salary or price caps, evoking cries of socialism and denial of freedom from conservatives. As it is, rent control is even criticized by some, (because after all, the poor landlords are facing rising costs as well), and as policies like this are overturned, the middle class is being swept out of the city!
|Everyone who offers products or services points to "rising costs" as to why they must also raise costs. For one thing, why isn't there a move to try to assess where this cycle is starting from? Everyone just points elsewhere, "the market" if nothing else; and then they all ultimately come together to blame taxes. Plus, are they really raising prices enough to meet the rising costs, or are they tacking on nice raises for themselves at the same time, making it look like the increase is for "just meeting costs", but are really pocketing much of it? When everyone does this, passing it all down to the consumer, no wonder costs for everything are so high! And this system is justified; much like childrens' misbehavior, on what "everyone else does". "We have to pay the CEO so much because everyone else is, and he will look elsewhere". Only it is a nebulous organizational system rather than a single person. Yet how did this "competitive" amount get so high in the first place? Are they working hundreds of times more than everyone else, or their forbears did in the past, now? The same thing if the government "penalizes them for success" (as conservatives all put it) and raises their taxes. Then, they'll just flee elsewhere; other countries, if necessary. So we have to either allow them to milk us dry, or they will leave and we'll still suffer. So it looks like the CEO's have us all by the throat, doesn't it? But do we really want to settle for something like this? Is this really the "freedom" we as Americans value so much? It's almost a kind of tyranny! The "corporatocracy" has been called the new "emperor" of what is becoming essentially a new kind of "slavery" system through a "scarcity-based economy" that entraps people through loans and interest. The system bears much of the same untouchable power as the old monarchs of premodern civilization.
So no wonder some even advocate caps. But this isn't even necessary. Make this as publically unfashionable as welfare and affirmative action have become, and then things may change. Put leaders on the spot for thinking they are "entitled" to a certain percentage raise every year no matter what the economy or financial situation of the company is, just like they themselves tell workers. Don't sit back and passively allow your money to pad the rich for life, while telling the poor and unemployed "nobody owes you a living".
Through decades of inflation, recession and deficit, seven, eight, nine and ten-figured executives (both business as well as government) and also sports and entertainment figures are totally sheltered from all of this, living as if money is falling from the sky. (Even if a business fails, the executive still gets nice six figure severance packages and can start over elsewhere). At the same time, they cut back, since there is "no money".
Americans are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for sports and entertainment, thousands for theme parks and other vacations, more thousands for materialistic consumption, as well as accepting an overpriced basic cost of living; yet when they see that their pocketbook is empty, the only thing many complained about was social programs and foreign aid.
While US auto company execs showing up at their bailout hearings in private jets did draw some outrage, at least on the media, it seems a large majority of people do not think anything of these sorts of things. At the same time, you had NY Gov. Patterson grilled on if he would cut his own salary along with all the massive cuts he proposed in the state budget. After a few minutes of pausing and trying to deflect it, finally saying that that wouldn't make a difference. But when every high-paid executive in business and government exempts themselves like that, we see what we see today, where the entire economy will collapse, and this elite class remain totally unaffected.
*The "Zeitgeist" internet film series had some great points on all of this. Too bad they trash religion along with it, but then we Christians and others did most of that to ourselves by supporting the corrupt system and using God to control others into following it. The films also employ an "inside conspiracy" view of 9-11, and end up offering a utopian vision of the future that seems a bit unrealistic; both of which along with some erroneous claims about the origins of Christianity damage its credibility, but otherwise, its observations on economics nailed this whole current system.
Our flawed assessment of our system versus socialism
40 years of Cold War rhetoric pictured capitalism as God's system, despite the evils of its racism and class oppression (the former ignored, the latter dismissed as Marxist rhetoric), the entire philosophy being "whoever dies with the most toys wins", which is the driving force behind the 'make money by any means necessary, no matter who you step on' motives. Yet it was the Communists who were regarded as so "materialistic", and when the materialism in this society was recognized, that too was linked, somehow, to Communist "influence"—especially on the young rebelling crowd. Now that the Cold War is over, and even as we gloat about having been finally proven the better system, the cold war rhetoric has become culture war rhetoric against our own domestic branch of the Left, known as liberalism, which is seen as promoting the same 'discredited' socialist values. Even though the conservatives complain about "materialism" in this modern society, it's still not the ruthless make money by any means philosophy they are against (No, they even help fight for deregulation of big business), but rather their loss of control over the issues that are important to them—sexuality and the roles of minorities and the poor, and family (women, youth)
Even now that the communists have admitted defeat, and opened up to our ways, what happens but all of our problems going over there as well. Like organized crime, pornography, prostitution, black market. As we complained of these things in our "free" society, the communists were able to keep it under control. When the Berlin Wall came down the differences between the east side and the west side with all its porno shops, was striking. Yet, we called the East the godless amoral system, and praised the capitalism of the West, the system in which porno shops, but also organized religion, from under which the Christian defenders of Capitalism all live and operate, flourished as "God's system". Now, we blame all the new problems in Russia on the pre-existing conditions under the atheist communist system —the "vacuum" it left in people. And of course, our own problems had been blamed on communism and its "influences" (liberals), all along.
Interestingly, when a group of Christian leaders went over there a few years ago to meet with Russian leaders, one Academy of Social Sciences historian noted that leaders of both societies talked about justice and equality and equal rights, but only America "conveys courtesy and civility"; its minorities only protesting, but not seceding or starting civil wars. (See Yancey, Praying with the KGB Portland, OR, Multnomah, 1992) But is all of this really true? On the surface, the problems over here look small. But even the very Christian leaders themselves complain about the loss of civility in this society. All we've done is spread more of it over there. Minorities in this country had been stripped of the power to secede or start a war. We were purposely kept dumb so that we would be little more than helpless servants. It had half backfired, leading to all the racial tension, but largely succeeded in keeping us at the bottom. Now people (on the conservative side, mainly!) are even looking at that as proof that we are inferior, not even deserving of any programs to help us (which the conservatives link to "socialist redistribution of wealth", and "punishing the hard working white man").
So as the Christian west took all that praise and glory from the Russian leaders for truly being
the "better system", the real reason this society outlived communism is because it was more
shrewdly put together. That's all. It was not more moral, not more godly, only used His name,
and hid behind a thin mask of "morality" and endless rhetoric to sway people. What is this
system really better at? Keeping itself going. In fairness, keeping the "fittest" high up in power
and then giving people lower down material things to keep them "happy" to a shallow extent,
thus maintaining "order" (class order, that is). That may be laudable in the secular context where
"survival of the fittest" is the main creed, but why do Christians think this proves it's more
godly? Some say it is the more "wiser" political system. It may be so, but that would be the "earthly" wisdom the Bible warns against (James 3:15ff). But it too is going to fall. Just not as fast as communism.
Even now, with this latest economic crisis, the Islamic world (with its glistening state of Dubai that propers as the rest of the world is caught up in the crisis), is now saying the exact same thing we said about the Soviet empire when it fell. That we're falling, and they're suriving because of their "spiritual" beliefs.
Arno Froese in How Democracy Will Elect the Antichrist (Columbia SC; Olive Press Publishers, 1997, p.204-6) points out:
"Why then", we may ask, "did communism fail?" There were many reasons, but one specific point I would like to mention here is the fact that communism failed to take into consideration that man is basically evil, selfish, and loves money." Capitalism, on the other hand, thrives on "love of money". During the Reagan years, a book was published using the title Greed Is Good.
The system of capital democracy will usher in the Antichrist, therefore, I propose we watch it more carefully in our day. The communist system was based on productivity of the worker. Karl Marx, a German Jew, stated in 1848: "If the workers in the world unite, they will be able to bring forth a paradise on earth." But Communism failed because it was not centered around the love of money. But one of the most important ingredients of a workable economy is competition. However, communism rejected it. "All people are equal". they said.
A degree of greediness is essential to make a capitalistic economy work properly. People who are seeking personal wealth generally work a lot more than the average citizen. Many successful businessmen work 12, 14, or even 16 hours a day. Some work 6 to 7 days a week. They are thinking of profit and individual wealth all the time. They are dedicated to success, and yes, they do love money.
Then Froese goes on to remind us believers that we should learn a lesson from this; that we are to work for eternal values, not corruptible silver and gold that will perish, and that money should only serve to sustain our living. But too often, Christians just proclaimed this system as God's, forgetting just as much as the Marxists that man is greedy and would corrupt the system. Some would go as far as to just blame this on communism!
And where editors of the Pravda and others confessed that they just couldn't motivate people to do good under an atheistic philosophy, and the Christian inference was obvious: "Because you're doing it without God!"; many Christians over here are trying to do the same exact thing— control by law alone, even though they stick God's name in it as their authority. And in order to try to get their control back, they use rhetoric. It was pointed out how rude a Marxist philosopher was in defending his ideology, compared to how "nice" the Christians were (one even moving over there to help people) but the Christians must remember they were going over there as the victors, with all the honor it carried. They should think how 'nice' they would have been if it was the Communists who had won, and the Christian leaders had lost everything— their "freedom", their positions, influence, message, their money and prestige. In fact, even while they enjoyed these things but the communists were "threatening", they weren't so nice. Even now, many aren't so nice in the "culture war" in this country that has succeeded the cold war. In fact; we witness today a phenomenon known as the "sore winner"; The conservatives have won the Cold War, and even gone as far as to have gotten all of their politicians in the highest offices in this country the last two decades, and have even gained some ground on issues like Welfare and Affirmative action. Yet they still complain of the ungodly leftist forces controlling the culture, as well as government spending, and among some, even that the Republicans are no better than the liberal Democrats! Of course, on issues like homosexuality, and the immorality of pop culture, they are losing, as morality continues to sink to the gutter. Basically; it's only fiscally that conservative values are really having affect. The ol' god of mammon is what is the bottom line and the top priority; not the things of God. But this should show that even the winning of their branch of politics in this country and worldwide will not create a perfect civilization!
The big error of Marxism was supposed to be its idea of man establishing a utopian society (when that is really impossible given man's fallen nature), but when we proclaimed our system as God's system what we were actually saying was that it was possible for fallen man to establish the Kingdom of God, and it was our system that was that kingdom. The same thing with the culture/generational war; when they say the early half of this century and before was so perfect and ideal, they are claiming that man once did have a perfect kingdom of God. But what they need to think— how could they lose it in the first place if it was so perfect?
Many Christians in their rhetoric would criticize Marxism for it's "warped dream of absolute equality". Of course, it's obvious given man's fallen state, that it would never be possible for him to create a perfect society, but the Christians sometimes sounded too content with things the way they were in the west. —with THEM on the top of things. In other words, they were happy with the inequality, but just as long as it's in their favor. "That's life; just as long as I got mine". Any attempt of a government to try to make things fair then is condemned as some evil "failed socialist scheme".
And as they criticized the "warped dream of absolute equality", they continued to push a warped dream of perfect morality.
But ironcally, it seems as much as we condemned Communism, we were actually quite impressed with some of their ideology! As one former Bob Jones University student observed on an Internet bulletin board:
Unfaithful alumni I may be, I've been close enough to North Korea to say that I'd rather be at BJU (at least you can get a decent meal there), but that doesn't change the fact that there are authoritarian tendencies at the University. Yes, the University is at the opposite end of the political spectrum, but as somebody once said, that spectrum is more a circle than a straight line: the far right and the far left are more similar than either would like to believe.
Someone who has maintained closer contact with the University than I have, correct me if I get the details wrong. I believe there's a program at the school called Timothy Student Program, whereby third-world students were brought to the school to receive an education and then expected to use that in their home countries upon graduation. Every time this program was mentioned, the speaker invariably implied that the program was modeled after what the Soviets used to do in an effort to aid the spread of communist ideology in the third world.* And I don't know how many times during my childhood and at BJU that I heard sermons challenging us to learn from the zeal of communist insurgents and ideologues: "If they have such zeal for a false ideology, you should have even more in service of the truth."
Which is all well and good: I'm all for being zealous for the sake of a good cause. However, what fundamentalist preachers tend to forget is that "totalitarian" is not a uniquely communist trait; it describes what happens when, within a group, one set of ideas assumes totality and when every member of that group is expected to toe the party line and all dissent is quashed, extinguished, or "shipped."[BJU slang for expulsion] In other words, it's first a psychological, not political, term.
In other words, what (in my view) BJ and the preachers of my youth were holding up as the communists' greatest virtue was actually their greatest vice. Their devotion to their ideology to the exclusion of all else was what made their system so monstrous: it allowed them to see certain human beings as unfaithful that had to be purged to maintain the purity of the revolution; it closed their eyes to the simple pleasures and joys that give meaning to their lives; and it forced them to exclude from their worldview anything that did not accord with the totality they had constructed.
Without that zeal, they may actually have been able to do some good in the world. After all, many of socialism's goals have been plagiarized from the tradition of great Christian social thinkers: the entire community of early Christians, Sts. Chrysostom and Thomas Aquinas, the early Anabaptists and Mennonites, and many, many others. The fact that fundamentalists envied the zeal of the communists while rejecting the entirety of their politics is, I think, very revealing, and rather troubling.
I have also been to grad school in a secular setting and I will be the first to acknowledge that academia on the left can be as potentially totalitarian as on the right. (And sometimes late on Thursday nights when I fought for sleep against the seniors carousing in their dorm across the green, I wished campus security would have been a bit more totalitarian.) But when an institution starts amassing weaponry in defense of its ideology, I can understand where the analogy with North Korea might arise. [this was during the Civil Rights and Cold War days]
(Interesting, isn't it? The early Christians practiced an economy of communism for the first two or three centuries of the Church, while cheerfuly suffering martyrdom when it was called for (and sometimes even when it was not). Late twentieth-century Fundamentalists condemn communism of all sorts, and arm themselves against martyrdom.)
In a later post, he continues:
Another important question concerning the specific instance of the University's acquisition of arms: What were the 'actual' dangers faced by the school at that time? This question is easy to ask in hindsight, but I think it's still worth asking. Who, exactly, were they afraid of? The nation was heaving with unrest at the time, yes, but it seems to me that the vast majority of the "martyrs" were produced by the left: student protesters and civil rights workers/marchers. It was these individuals that bore the full brunt of the government's wrath. Those on the right—the defenders of the status quo (BJ included, I would think)—largely approved of these crackdowns, and suffered little in terms of direct violence from the government. I assume, therefore, that BJ wasn't worried about the government. Perhaps it was these very student demonstrators and hippies that the school feared; however, everybody knew the efficiency with which the government could disperse such groups. Did BJ seriously think that they posed a threat, and that if they did, the (conservative) government of South Carolina would not come to their aid?
Which brings us full circle, I suppose: the totalitarian mind demonizes its (ideological) opponents and imagines that they will do anything to work its destruction. I remember hearing about conspiracies and intrigues against the University while I was there; I've heard my left-wing friends spout forth conspiracy theories about the right that are eerily similar to what I heard at BJ. What it seems to boil down to is an inability to admit the possibility, no, the likelihood, that your opponent is an individual of good faith who may differ strongly with you and try to persuade you or even defeat you in the political arena, but is most likely not out to "get" you.
I have never read any early Christian documents that singled out particular contemporary Roman leaders (or the Roman government in general) for contempt and derision, despite the fact that the entire empire was bent on their destruction. Instead, the accounts I have read and heard are of non-believers impressed by their joy, their concern for the poor and sick and old, all in the midst of great persecution. Any persecution that Christians have borne in 20th century pales by comparison, yet to listen to the derision heaped on our government and its leaders by fundamentalist leaders, you would think we were undergoing persecutions unheard of in the history of the Church.
The acquisition of weapons by the University probably symbolizes for many people this level of hyperbole and exaggeration, and understandably, it bothers them.
What was always ironic to me, was how it was Stalin who really made Russia as totalitarian as it was. (Marx, for instance, was actually against state control, secret police, and other things the KGB had become!)Yet you never heard Stalin condemned on the ideological/philosophical level as much as you did Marx! It seemed Stalin's tyranny was not what bothered them so much, as is evidenced in the above. It was Marx's criticism of the capitalistic values they prospered under and call to the workers that they were against.
Another point of note is in the beginning: "the spectrum is more a circle than a straight line: the far right and the far left are more similar...". Failure to understand this will be the snare of all rightists (including Christians, of both the politically active and separatist stripes) who think that error is only on the "Left"; that the further right you go, the further from error you are. Christians have tried to associate Hitler with the far Left, but if you really look at his teachings, including the moral agenda they included, he and his Nazi movement are really on the "Right" side (and in fact are the inevitable extension of the agenda of many rightists.) The fact that his agenda so resembles that of far left dictators (Stalin, etc.) is the very proof of this point, as is the fact that "socialist" was included in his party's name. Also, frequently used terms such as "Feminazis" and "P.C. Gestapo" are conservative attempts to link these left wing movements with the Nazis, but the Nazis all would have (and the neo-Nazis still do) taken the conservative positions against feminism and the various issues of political correctness, so just like Nazis themselves try to blame the supposed One World conspiracies on Jews, so the rest of the Right tries to blame the Left for its sins. Once again, this ideological system seems to be the second "beast" with "two horns like a lamb, but [speaks] like a dragon", that deceives the entire world into worshipping the first "beast" (Antichrist's system). (Rev. 13:11) More on this in Revelation
I would say the real difference between capitalism and communism, is that in this system, it is a bit easier to rise up. But it usually involves knowing the right people, or having some sort of pop-appeal; hence the entertainment figures today who get so much money and attention, but many of them do not even have any real talent. (Like one who became popular just from a sex video). Once again, this is one reason this system lasts so much better. Feed the people what they want; and they will keep coming back and throwing money at you; even if there is no money anywhere else from deficit, and even while complaining they have no money because of overtaxing! But from a spiritual point of view; you really wonder if that is so much better after all. Remember; "a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses" (Luke 12:15). Ironic, how often in criticizing the communists for "materialism" we judge from a materialistic perspective!
*BTW, Jack Chick also copied his comic style tract format from a Communist method of distributing propaganda
Unrest: The Price of Prosperity
The end result of this system is the fear of being robbed or cheated, which takes away from the
enjoyment of all this stuff we hoard. From stores to federal office buildings, security is pretty
tight these days (even well before the 9-11 attacks). Having all this material wealth makes us such big targets. Jesus had said "Store
not up treasures on earth, where...thieves break in to steal" (Matt.6:19). But the Western
"Judeo-Christian" system exempted itself from that command (No, God's people are supposed to
be materially 'blessed'). So then they forfeited the peace God was offering through obedience to
His Word, and now we have a system of godless materialism, crime, sin and unrest. Just
compare the penny-pinching protectiveness of capitalism to the principle God tried to teach His
people in Deuteronomy 24:19-21. Any harvested produce dropped or forgotten in the field was
to be left for the stranger, fatherless or widow, and THIS would make God "bless you in all the
work of your hands". This biblical command completely blows away this system. I mean, it is
the diametric OPPOSITE of this profit oriented "mine, mine, mine, gotta keep it all" attitude of
Western business, which would place armed guards in that field so that not one grain would be
taken and become "lost revenue"; that is, unless they could get some tax credit (instant material
reward) out of it as "incentive".
Many Christian Leaders just as Materialistic as Everyone Else
And in all this, the Christians who have cried out the loudest about "morality" and "materialism" have set the worse example of all, for they live little differently than any other well-off leader, and their material prosperity is justified as being the 'reward' for all their "hard work for God", and being such "servants" of His. Church leadership, of almost every denomination, sect and cult has lived it up materially, (while condemning what they call "materialism" in society), rationalizing that in their case it's different: they "earned" it; for their service and obedience, God "blessed" them (and "blessing", as in the rest of this society, always means money, and the fine houses, clothes and cars that comes with it, and the church is no different). Every one of these organizations is organized as a tax-exempt corporation (with all the burdensome regulations that go with that) to support this, with these 'executives' and professional 'clergy' maintaining much of this living off the 'collections' from the 'laity' (even though in the New Testament, money was collected for traveling leaders, as the apostles were, and for struggling churches. Not stationary "ministers", but now this is where most of a church's budget goes). All that all of this does is support the natural but sinful notion that "godliness is a means of gain" (1 Tim.6:5) and that "one's life...consists of the abundance of things he possesses" (Luke 12:15), which the Bible, as well as these leaders themselves repeatedly condemn. This is actually the very basis of the increasingly popular "prosperity gospel" that is now finally being condemned by evangelicals, after years of ignoring it. But the prosperity preachers are actually being more consistent in applying the prosperity concept to the laity as well as the leaders. The leaders who claim to reject the prosperity gospel, but still justify well-off living as their "reward" for their work or obedience, are practicing the same exact thing, but only limiting it to themselves, the leaders! Meanwhile, to the general people they told correctly from the scriptures not to desire material things, and to be "content" with what they had, then, would "blessings" mean spiritual things. They would also quote Matt.6:33: "but if you 'seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness' [like I have], then 'these things' MAY 'be added to you'". "But if they aren't, then 'be content', your reward is really in Heaven". If you question their lifestyles: "Me? Yes, I have these things, but I don't get my joy from them, or put my trust in them. I delighted myself in God first, then [when I proved myself in delighting in Him], I was ready to 'receive His blessings'". This is pure prosperity Gospel! —You "serve" God through "faith" and "obedience", and He "rewards" you materially.
Yet, you see very few of these leaders do without any of it. When they felt threatened by the Communists, or even liberals in this country, who they felt would take their power from them (or when coddling the "angry middle class"), or even better yet, when they felt people weren't giving enough to the church, they weren't about to let go, and "trust God", and "be content" with less, also as God's people up to the early Christians have had to. No, they defended it at any cost, even supporting wars in the past, or pushing for politicians whose policies hurt these people with their pro-rich policies because it's "the lesser of two evils". And one sure sign of what I am saying is just looking at where so many of the top ministries are headquartered. The have picked some of the coziest, far removed areas in the country. To top it off, they even warn suffering people about "demanding", saying that since we're 'indebted' to God, we have no "rights"; if God gave us what we "deserved", we'd be in Hell. This is all true, but still, in this entire culture war they waged, you heard so much about their "rights".
So this has helped give rise to a generation of disillusioned Christians, who become sure targets for all of the bitterness, envy, lack of faith, backsliding, or the appeal of the faith/prosperity movement we see in many of today's Christians. But conservatives who do all that complaining about this "secular influence in the modern church" do not set any kind of example, except maintaining their 'rights' to prosperity, and thus ending up being apart of the very system they complain about, themselves being deeply influenced by the same prosperity-oriented materialism of the Western culture and not being aware of it; and supporting and praising a money worshiping system because of its support for their lifestyle.
Even in their polemics on the downfall of America, our material wealth is what they hold up as
"God's blessing" for our fathers' faith and work, (which we are going to lose because of our
"sins" now, of course). But if anything, this was a curse, brought about by the ungodly means
they were acquired. The fruits of it is the very "materialism" and "hedonism" we see today. But
people just want to enjoy the legacy of their forefathers (and regain as much of it what they felt they've
lost), and not own up to its negative effects, but blame them all on others, angry because they are
not being allowed to enjoy it all in peace. (John Dawson, in Healing America's Wounds shows
how the past, unconfessed and unforgiven, is having a negative spiritual effect today.) All of this
is a VALUE. We have made ourselves the world judges of 'values', but these things we value are
the same as theirs —materials, as well as power, which enables us to acquire more material. This
we hide behind "rights" and "earning", but it is still materialistic. The conservative politicians
and preachers, in holding up material prosperity of individuals and capitalism as a whole as
proof of our country's inherent godliness, and fighting so much for the "hard earned rights" of the
filthy rich, are actually supporting the very materialism they condemn.
The Generation Gap
This labeling of others as "materialistic" extends into the generation gap as well. Billy Graham, in Shadow of the End, observes that earlier generations "lived a simpler life", until, of course, the mid 50's when the focus became "everything from the fins of their cars to the latest swimsuits..." This, of course, is what the older generations judge the younger as 'more selfish' by.
But just what do you mean 'simpler'? By whose standard? The Indians who their forefathers took this land from were all crowded on reservations. The Africans who were brought over here as slaves had much less decades ago, and many still do. Then look at places like Asia and other parts of the Third World, which Graham later describes in the book as "unhappy" (which he then connects with the "grumbling" of "unthankfulness"). The fact is that even the so-called "simple" lifestyle of the America of the first half of this century and before, was among the richest lifestyles on earth at the time. They may have had only things considered "needs", but consider that most people in the earth didn't even have that, or the comforts Americans still enjoyed back then. ESPECIALLY when we had gotten those comforts largely by robbing and raping much of the world. It was all acquired by greed, and since greed was the basic factor, society, while being content for awhile, eventually got BORED, and as the greedy always do, they soon wanted MORE. THIS explains the explosion of materialism in the middle of this century. A whole bunch of factors (including the Depression, wars, etc.) working at the same time led to the sudden societal changes and cultural revolutions that were all concentrated at that one period of time.
Much rhetoric abounds about the supposed "dumbing down" of education and society for today's "narcissistic", "cynical" or "nihilistic" generation, but this, as Mike Regele points out, is simply because the over-idealistic "baby boomers" "look down our long, lofty noses at a generation that has in a real sense, followed our lead." 10-20% of boomers had to take SAT tests to get into college, while now the level is closer to 70%. "And the curriculum? How can a generation that got credit in college for basket weaving be critical of a generation that takes trigonometry before leaving high-school?" (Death of the Church, p.135,6). And where the boomers were taken care of in the environment they grew up in (smothered a bit too much, perhaps), when they had their children, they were so busy "pursuing their self, living in communes [and then eventually] setting and pursuing super careers, and so on. Their minds were not on the more mundane activities of life, such as nurturing children. The result: the latchkey generation". So now this created "a streetwise pragmatism that teaches that if they [the children] are to survive, they must make it on their own" (ibid), and this is where our "cynicism" comes from. Of course, the boomers as well— the beat generation that led the massive rebellion in the middle of this century has come under much criticism from the generations before them also. One boomer responded to a letter in the New York Post (5-29-97) saying that "the Baby Boomer generation seems destined never to grow up, never to take responsibility for itself" since nearly half of Baby Boomers have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement. But this ignored the fact that a lot of the Boomers' income was paying the WWII generations's social security (which money may run out and the age of eligibility be raised by the time boomers are eligible—after the WWII generation is finished, and all of this at the hands of the earlier generation lawmakers), as well as paying the much higher mortgage interest on $100,000 houses that the older generations had gotten for $20,000 in the 50's. Plus, corporate downsizing, also controlled by the older people in power.
Another area, speaking of WWII, is that people who came home victorious from that war would
later chastize the boomers once again for their reaction against Vietnam. "We were so proud, but
you spoiled rebels were crying". But the morale of the two wars was very different. Not only was
WWII a more just cause, but we were reluctant to get involved until we saw our security at risk.
Yet people took all the credit for fighting that war so valiantly. Korea and Vietnam on the other
hand, we eagerly jumped into since our interests were at stake from the beginning, since the
enemy by then had become the Communists. The Boomer kids were already beginning to rebel against the
hypocrisy of society, so in this war, they completely revolted. Plus, they were now fighting in a third world country, whose native people weren't as strong as the Nazis of western Europe, and many inhuman acts were committed against helpless civilians, causing further reaction. So we see here the utter selfishness in viewing younger generations as— selfish, based on ignored aspects of the actual history. This is yet another issue where views of life are construed to justify the group that one belongs to.
Even though the Christians have not been the main anti-gun control activists, still they side with a right wing movement that sees this as just another plot of the leftist government to take away their freedom. Or at least they defend guns as unfairly blamed for the violence that is striking schools and other places. ("You liberal educators blame guns, but it's really your fault for taking God out of the schools."*) So the same movement that uses as the ultimate example of society's decay the fact that "today kids in schools get in trouble for having guns, while in the 50's they only got in trouble for chewing gum"; fails to see how unrestricted gun laws are what helps makes these guns so accessible to kids, as well as to street criminals. But once again, how much easier to blame the removal of prayer from the schools. It's like, well, the problem is not guns, it's the immorality caused by the very godless education the gun-controlling left advocates. So is the answer then, since guns are not the problem ("guns don't kill people, [immoral] people do"); to just let anyone who wants guns have them? Then, the immoral people will get them too! This is them dealing with life the way it "should be" (if society wasn't so immoral we wouldn't have this problem), rather than the way it is: there is immorality, including robbing and killing with guns, and the conservative "solutions" or alternatives to gun control (moral reeducation) take time, but this needs to be controlled NOW. But this is another prime example of the middle-class "duty to self" ethic. Gun advocates know they're less likely to be shot with one of these guns, yet they have theirs to feel safe!
Some Christians however are bigger on the anti-gun control issue, and this became all the more clear in the aftermath of some gun incidents calling for tougher gun control; where I saw a number of alarming statements in internet discussions. First, the mayor of New York City and some other big cities began decrying all the guns that were coming from the South where they could be purchased right over the counter, and were sold to criminals and used for murders, including NYC cops. Then, a shooting spree occurred right down in the state where many of the guns come from; at Virginia Tech. In the "Christian" debates that erupted after this incident, people BRAGGED about the idea of killing some criminal! One person's avatar said "Trespassers will be shot, survivors will be shot again". There were also several puns, like "Yeah, I believe in 'gun control'! I pull the trigger, aim and fire!" or "Yeah, I'll change my position: I'll position my feet right, take aim, pull the trigger". Is this issue funny, or is it a SERIOUS matter?
They blame blame gun control legislation, when that is not even an attempt to take all guns away from all law abiding citizens, as Gun control opponents often scream. A background check, waiting period, the types of assault weapons they're particularly trying to keep off the streets, and stuff like that? If you really are a law abiding citizen, then you should have nothing to hide. If you're not planning to rob a bank tonight, you can wait for your gun. It's the criminals that is aimed at, but conservative style conspiratorialism always has to make it a plot against themselves. Getting a house or car is made much harder (credit reports for payments, etc) and everyone seems to accept that.
It seemed in this debate like some people want thugs to be able to buy guns easily, and then go into the cities and shoot each other up, which is what usually happened, which is what NYC's mayor and others were complaining. Only this time, it wasn't some far away urban slum.
They're saying now that this kid had been acting strange, two years ago, was suicidal, stalking people, alarming professors with his paper assignment writings, and was even sent to a mental facility. That is what "control" such as background checks are designed to look for. Why does a person like that have to be allowed to buy a gun without any sort of regulation?
Because we figure, (if the gunman does happen to come our way), I got mine, and I'll "position my feet right, take aim, pull the trigger" and blow him away myself! First of all, who says you'd even win? Who says you will even have time to "position your feet right and aim" and all that stuff? A person like this who just started opening up shooting, you might not even have a chance to reach for or go get your gun (while meanwhile, your children could be finding it, and shooting themselves, as often happens). Even COPS who are the Law, and armed, and trained to use guns are are getting killed with these guns (And this is what sparked the last round of this debate when the NYC cops were killed, and the VA gun dealers thought it was some sort of joke or something they mocked at).
Some will point out that they did have the basic controls such as background checks and waiting periods, and that they are not opposing these things. But aren't even those modest measures opposed by many gun advocates in the name of "freedom"? After all, that is still a form of "gun control", and it often sounds like people are against ANY type of "control" at all, while greater controls like this are all many "control" advocates (such as NYC's mayor) are asking for. (But defensive gun advocates react like everyones trying to take their guns from them.)
So we patch up the negative result of so many guns easily availble with more guns more easily available. People actually claim "Well, if other students had been armed, they could have stopped him". So it's that easy! We'll all be John Wayne in the great big showdown at the OK Corral, blow the smoke off the tip of the barrel, and ride off into the sunset, right? I think many people are living in this "'American Wild West' shootemup movie" fantasy where only the bad guy gets killed in the end because the posse was properly armed. But what we're forgetting is if you have everyone armed and shooting, those bullets fly, and many will miss their target, and innocent people will still be slaughtered en-masse (which again, happens in urban high crime areas all the time). Just look at the Mideast, and other such places like that. Is that what you want here?
Also, a big point was being made of England's crime rate going up as gun control goes up. But are you sure of which is causing which. In statistics, anytime youi see a positive correlation, you can't just assume one factor is causing the other. There may be OTHER factors involved in this, (like in America's big cities) rather than proving gun laws CAUSE our crimes. Perhaps the rise in crime already began occurring, (for other reasons), and THIS is what alarmed officials into controlling guns.
Then, there was also debate about the types of guns concerned, and what is "automatic" or "semiautomatic"; but a line has to be drawn somewhere. With many of these weapons passing around, even the police have been outgunned. People seem to want ANY type of gun, UZI's and other machine guns and advance assult weapons to be allowed! Somebody on one board was even talking about some rifle that could penetrate steel like butter!
As for the Constitution debate, One person I spoke to pointed out "If people want to bear arms and they claim a constitutional right, then they should only be allowed to have guns that were around when the Constitution was signed"!
Again, nobody's trying to take guns from any law abiding citizens. Some may argue, ideally, that nobody should have guns, but that is not what most people are calling for. And I don't see how a Church that almost universally tells suffering or fearful people "trust God" or "be anxious for nothing" can side with the gun lobby, as if guns are what are trusted as the salvation of mankind. (And this right after decrying tragedies like Columbine, and trying to blame the removal of prayer or the 10 Commandments and other societal changes for kids having guns).
I myself do not believe it is wrong to have a gun, and would never deny anyone the right to protect themselves with it. What I am getting at here is the ATTITUDE I am seeing on the issue.
All of this is ALARMING coming from Christians! Not even the discussion I had on a secular hobby board's Off Topic section was that charged. A generation ago, we were criticized by the world for abusing "turn the other cheek" (or at least teaching certain groups of people to, as any Nation of Islam convert would frequently complain!) Now, it is a total about face! What happened? All our leading books/sermons/teachers on the Christian life STILL cite verses about "being anxious for nothing", "this world is passing away; Heaven is more important", "take no thought for your life", "just trust God for everything", "put Him first, and He shall protect you like He protected Daniel's friends" etc. at those suffering any "trial" (including poverty, mistreatment, etc). (As I discuss on the Abundant Life Gospel page.)
And it doesn't even seem to be just a matter of "self-defense", where the purpose of a counterattack is defensive (to stop the criminal from harming us or our family; where him dying is an unfortunate risk) but instead, we seem to want to be the executioners, on the offensive, and kill regardless, apparently, even if he does not happen to be armed. Then what next? Someone approaches you on the street looking threatening, and you just start shooting, and he turns out to be unarmed. (Or maybe not even really threatening in the first place).
We are completely OBSESSED. That's what my concern is, as was Michael Moore's whole point. Then, one of the defenses was all the "Narcissism" in this society, and the fallenness of the world. As I have been pointing out all along, it is the conservative who actually underestimates the fall, when they think that their idealized schemes, or the past society, are/were so good, and it's everyone else who has messed it up, and are now out to get us. I do not see how we can talk so boldly about "narcissism", when WE are the loudest voice out here screaming for SELF-protection and "rights", and thinking we are the center of the world with everyone else trying to take ours, and us never admitting any wrong. Again, the "duty to self". Imagine that; we have to look out for 'number one', because everyone else is "narcissistic"!
*even in the aftermath of such tragedies as the Columbine massacre and other school violence, many simply take that as an opportunity to tell the educators "see, we told you! You blame guns, but it's your fault for taking God out of the schools!"
What's the inference? "Society was good when we had the control, but now look what you people have done. That is why
we should get the society back." But there were just as many horrors back then, and don't forget, there was no mass media
to instantly broadcast everything into the public consciousness. And do we think that if we post the 10 Commandments up
in the classrooms and make the children pray they will all instantly stop what they are doing and be good? Will we then be
able to allow guns to proliferate, because the problem will be completely solved? We truly do not understand the nature of
the fallen world!.
Christians dismiss environmentalists, because it is supposedly led by a bunch of new age nature
worshipers. Then it's regarded as just another end-times occult deception. But that is only
because, as in so many other issues, the Christians stepped back and let the liberal new-age
people lead the movements of compassion. "Human interests" such as "competitiveness",
"efficiency", "growth", "Making America #1" etc. are always considered more important, and
therefore, once again, the opposition is a plot to destroy America and its businesses. They claim
the depletion of the ozone, or resources, are all lies, to end all "freedom" in the "new world
order". So people really believe that you can pump all kinds of toxic pollutants into the air and
cut down all the forests without any kind of negative effects at all! Just so we can be "free" to do
as we please —to make money!
Kingdom Dominion theology
All of this leads into the "Kingdom dominion theology" heralded by some leading religious right leaders. Beginning with Nimrod, man has always distorted God's command to "dominate" the earth. This led to his kingdom of Babylon, and the other "beast" kingdoms that followed, including Rome, which then led the church, symbolized as a "woman" (Rev.17) to commit "fornication" (illicit sharing of political power: the church was engaged to Christ, the true King). Now the church would force its ways, whether truly biblical or not, onto the world. It was just a continuation of the same old heathen world domination scheme from Babel, which was later taken over by the Europeans. This continued into Protestantism and American fundamentalism, which has now repackaged this same agenda into a philosophy called "dominion theology"
The way it goes is that God told man to "subdue", or "have dominion" upon the earth (Gen.1:28); the Hebrew word kabash.(Strong #3533) actually meaning "tread down", "disregard", "conquer", and even "violate", and even being translated as "[bring into] bondage", and "force" in Nehemiah 5:5 and Esther 7:8 (NKJV" "slavery", "assault")! Then, after the Fall, the only people worthy to carry this divine responsibility were those known as "God's people"— the Jews and Christians. But this doctrine justifies everything! Slavery? Colonialism? Exploitation of third world resources? Wars against the "godless", crusades, inquisitions? The destruction of the earth? World conquest? These may have been "unfortunate circumstances" for some people, but it was all necessary to fulfill God's command to 'subdue' the earth. And the Hebrew word does imply an "any means necessary"—no matter how ruthless, approach. And only the "chosen" are qualified to run the kingdom!
But the fact that is briefly acknowledged, but then is quickly ignored, is that man did fall, and this CHANGED God's original plans for mankind in Eden. It's true that God did sometimes command His people to conquer some lands and kill the people, but this was not a world-domination scheme. It was to clear the land of pagan demonic practices (child sacrifice, homosexuality, bestiality, etc), or punish the people for their treatments of Israel, who was then to fulfill God's real mission of being a light shining God's truth, and love to the world. But even that didn't work; they repeatedly allowed themselves to be influenced by the idolatrous heathen practices at first; then by the time we get up to Jesus' day, having learned that they cannot get God's blessing by breaking His Law, they go to the opposite extreme of rigid legalism, thinking that adding more laws or stricter observance would win God's favor, even though the problem of the sinful nature was still not taken care of . They never fulfilled the mission they were "chosen" for. So God did away with the "God's nation" and "human rulership" methods, and instead introduced the reverse concept of servanthood. He Himself descended into human form in the Person of His Son, and ordinary type of person who would serve and even give His life for all, even though He was Lord of all. This would be the great example for all those who would follow Him (The diametric opposite of this "I'm the boss; I 'worked hard' and 'earned' the right to subject everybody else to my interests" system). They were to be disciples, with their lives yielded to Him, carrying on the mission "God's nation" had failed. There would be leadership positions, but even these would be basically for service to others, not "lordship" (Matt.20:25-28, 1 Peter 5:3) This however did start to become a problem (Acts 20:30, 3 John 9, 10), and eventually, church leaders became powerful political leaders who tried themselves to rule the world, and even persecuting and killing people who did not yield to their rule. Then came "wars" against "godless" nations, and the colonization and slavery of others. And the church thought it was perfectly right because they held "the truth" and were God's "chosen".
This emphasis on dominion denies that we are all fallen, including Christians still. (1 John 1:18). It's almost as if conversion completely reverses the effects of the fall. God never made man's mission to "make himself [or his empirical self— his country, race, party, etc] #1", and at any cost. (Sine emphasizes this excellently.) This self-exalting, self-glorifying scheme could have only come from Satan, who was the original tempter of man with ideas of how great he should be, and himself the first to try to make himself #1, resulting in his fall. He has taken a biblical truth about man and twisted it into his primal lie. It's just the modern counterpart of Babel. Horton shows that this ideology as promoted by Pat Robertson and others exalts man just as much as the secularism they decry in the broader society. Robertson has even described the moral agenda as "reciprocal self-interest" (i.e. following Christian principles is what will make the earth better). But this in this scheme, "man is still the measure, still the center of the universe. One cannot attack secular humanism (with man at the center) by reinforcing its central dogma." (Beyond Culture Wars, p.63)
As to what God actually did command us to do, what the Christian world could have done to
"spread the Gospel and "civilize" the New and Third world peoples (the main excuse for all the
conquests and coercion) was to TEACH the native people both the Gospel and cultural
development, and then let them grow as nations on their own (instead of having regarded them
as "savages" and using that as an excuse to conquer them). Then, the west would consist of
independent people getting along, rather than a world under Caucasian control, but with internal
strife, with them having to be defensive about their dominance. To what profit would this have
been? To help fulfill the Great Commission! Just think of what a light this would have been to
the rest of the world. Instead, we look like just another religio-political system competing with
the others. And of course, we did not have our own house in order enough to be able to carry out
God's Kingdom or Our Control?
Some people insist we must wage this war against secularism, else we are just "letting everyone do as they please", which they claim would only drop the values further. But where did we get the idea that we are to be in control of everyone's actions? Yes, God commands us to "warn the wicked" (Ezekiel 3:18-20, 21) But we do more than that. We push. God never commanded us to do that, and remember, this is not the nation of Israel. He said if we told them and they still didn't listen, they we did our job, and we might as well leave them alone (v.19, Matt.10;14, 15) to eventually face His judgment. But we are impatient, and still want the "kingdom" now. The apostles were also like this earlier on, and Jesus rebuked them. A few centuries later, the church finally did get the chance to force its ideals on the world, and we see where that went. Bible prophecy even predicts that the great endtime rebellion is going to include a great religious hierarchy that will force its way on the world. But it won't be God's system, but rather that of the Beast and his image. And in all of that, they will think that they do GOD service (John 16:2). This could very well be the system 'Reconstructionists' would create if they got their way. Their entire message to the Church is "those non-Christians and their philosophies are your ENEMY! You must control or destroy them before they control or destroy you." And the only thing the church is doing wrong to them is "sleeping", and not fighting, (as much as the church is fighting this war!)
"Take back OUR country" attitude flatly denies that the world is not our home, and that we're
ambassadors from another kingdom. It's as if Christ were never coming back, and our eternal
hope for the kingdom of God lies in our own efforts. This is the same exact error they criticize
Marxist and other non-Christian idealism for. And we're not even reflecting this kingdom in our
lives and politics. The "Our Christian culture" statements reflect a self-centeredness.
Civil Religion is just a justification of the State, not the Truth of the Gospel
Conservatives try to "prove" Christianity as being the "moral glue" of the superior advanced Western civilization, but this actually discredits it as just another cultural religion. Many blame the cultural shifts of this civilization, beginning with "The Enlightenment" for this, but as Horton points out:
As Many thinkers are pointing out, it was often pietists and revivalists who kept the Enlightenment myths going. When the French revolution devolved into the "reign of Terror", religious revivals sweeping France restored some of the balance and, of course, gave the impression that the experiment wasn't finished after all. The secularists of modernity realized they needed religion— not for salvation, but for spiritual ballast. Religion was to provide spiritual incentive for an essentially antispiritual program of rebuilding the Tower of Babel, and often even evangelical religion offered a hand by supporting belief in human goodness, God's existing for our happiness, with generous doses of nationalism. It was not enough to say "This experiment will work!" What the ambitious project needed was "God is on our side!" (p.54)
Now Christians are reacting to society relegating them to just another religion of just another culture, but they are giving credence to this secular belief, as much as they complain about it, by identifying the Gospel with Western culture, and then on top of it, supporting its exclusive claims to truth on the supposed superiority of that civilization. So many blacks are now saying "that's not for us; we need something that builds us up, like their religion builds them up, and not something that puts us down like theirs does". This was the thinking that popularized the Black Muslims and watered-down black social-gospel church back when white Christianity had more power, and at the same time was abusing it with racism. At the same time, white kids also saw all the hypocrisy and rebelled against the church and then got into relativism, with its delving into other religions, sex, and drugs. Horton points out (p.50): "By equating Christianity and western culture, 'Christian America' evangelicals not only have a problem with history, but with the essence of faith in the modern world", and shows that this is just another form of allegiance to "modernity". He also points out "Nationalism is a form of collective narcissism, as the psychologist Karl Menninger seems to indicate: 'The sin of pride appears most conspicuously in group pride—tribalism, nationalism, jingoism, racism'. While this tendency toward self-infatuation has been apart of human nature ever since the Fall, we see it expressed very blatantly in our own day" (p.134)
So the church is at a point where it has to decide whether or not Christianity is really the truth of
God, that originates from outside of us, or if it's just our own religion competing with the other
societies', and it looks like we're winning, but we just have to get rid of all of these liberal "deconstructionists" who are giving away our birthright by making the game even. In that case, we can have our little religion, but we have no right telling anyone else they're going to Hell for not believing the "truth". We've just validated the relativists: there is no objective "truth". It's whoever wins the race to be number one in the world that sets the definition of "truth". And then
everybody else is just running their part of the race, and we can not say they are sinning and need
a savior. We can't have it both ways. Either God is God over all of the world, or He isn't God at
Horton, p. 244:
Secularization is the process of either downplaying the significance or even existence of God and His reign in this world right now through Jesus Christ, or of affirming that reign as embodied in a particular set of secular goals, values, and ideals. In other words, not only does the so-called "secular humanist" secularize society when trying to remove any mention of God or religion from public institutions; the evangelical Christian also secularizes society when God becomes Uncle Sam to the tenth power and Christianity merely serves to lend credibility to an already approved set of political, economic, and social policies that have absolutely no clear sanction in Scripture itself.
To Part 3: Persistance of the Race Issue