The Big Issue vs. the small stuff
Martin Luther once said that one had to find the point at which the devil attacked and then go there. He noted that there were any number of side issues that a Christian could preoccupy himself with and yet maintain a serene peace with the world. There are always nice improvements in manners, morals, and doctrine which will win the Christian applause both within and even without the walls of the sanctuary. But if you try to defend the gap where the enemy is intent on marshaling his forces, then expect to be cast as a villain by both the world and its operatives inside the church.
The problem is that the battle rages from front to front, and each age has its characteristic heresy. For Martin Luther himself it was the Babylonian captivity of the universal church by a sensual and apostate hierarchy south of the Alps. In the 4th century it was the Arians and their bitheism of Father God and his deputy Jesus the creature. In the 2nd century it was the systems of Gnostic speculation, and later on it was Manicheanism. But today the battle has moved on to new territory.
The problem is that many so-called apologetics ministries are fighting on fronts from which the battle has long since moved on. Yes, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have bad doctrine, but their Arianism isn’t threatening in the way that it would have been in the 4th century when Roman Emperors avowed a doctrine. And who really cares what day the Seventh Day Adventists choose to regard as their sabbath? So-called “apologists” who make it their business to call out denominations which have fallen back into the hoary heresies of antiquity are sometimes little more than exhibitionist pseudo-ministries more cultish than the sects which they brand as “the cults.” Since they attack minority views, they are safe in so doing, and risk little. Conversely, by evading battle with Satan’s main deception in our age, they risk cowardice.
The polite name for the dominant ideology of today’s world is Progressive Humanism. A bit beneath the surface, a more historically descriptive title for the same world-view would be Cultural Marxism. Further beneath the surface, and much more difficult to connect with its cheery exterior, this is none other than the original error of Adam. To call this Satanism would be imprecise, rather it is the fleshly component of that compact with the devil which renders sinful man useful to the powers of darkness.
Inside the church, this is more than ideology, it is heresy
The problem would be bad enough if the churches were beset with affliction from the secular majority. Unfortunately the problem does not stop there. Most of the mainstream churches, in their doctrine and practice have been vitiated by Cultural Marxism, and their influence as Christian fellowships is now often more pernicious than beneficial. The cheery altruism and support for governmental and para-governmental initiatives which characterizes the mainstream churches, masks a contempt for the primitive truth of the scriptures, and shows that a new gospel has been wholeheartedly embraced, one which is both pleasing to humanity and at enmity with God.
Human beings, in their desire to please each other and the powers that be, will question why the choice between Progressive Humanism and the Primitive Gospel must be either/or…rather than both/and. Are not social altruism and Christianity cut from the same cloth? What about the Sermon on the Mount? Do we not hear echos of it in the Communist Manifesto…albeit somewhat less in Das Capital.
No. Human beings, even before they ask Lenin’s question of “what is to be done?” must first ask the anthropological question “what are we?” Surprisingly, there is a family resemblance between the Marxist and the Christian answer to the anthropological question (really not surprising if one remembers that Marxism is really just a heresy cut off from original truth). Both Christianity and Marxism (Progressive Humanism) claim that humanity, in its present form, is twisted and evil, and ripe for destruction. In the case of Christianity we can substantiate this in the righteous judgement exercised by God on humanity in Noah’s time. In the case of Marxism, there is more recent substantiation in the fate of countless kulaks, internal exiles to the Gulag, planned starvation in the Ukraine and elsewhere, Mao’s cultural revolution, Pol Pot’s “killing fields” and so on without cease, and indeed recently illustrated by the present dire state of Venezuela. Furthermore both Christianity and Marxism agree that the old humanity having been eliminated, a new era will dawn.
So much for the similarities, what about the differences? In Marxism, humanity starts as evil and ends up good. With Christianity it is a bit more complicated. Humanity starts off good, falls into evil, and then is redeemed back to good. Quite a bit is entailed in the difference between the two and the three-step doctrines. In Christianity humanity has an essence which is restored by an external agency, namely God. One may not have enough faith to believe that this has actually taken place, but at least it seems consistent with logic and common sense. After all, we all know of instances where there was some object or machine or animal which was shiny and in mint shape which somehow got ruined through malice or neglect, and which then has been made “good as new” through the exertions of an expert fixer-upper. It happens all the time, and when it does we are heartily glad.
The view of the Progressive Humanist/Marxist is much more mysterious. Humanity starts off, not just as evil, but actually as nothing, and in bad need not just of improvement but of existence. Somehow it manages to come into existence, which is an embarrassingly improbable step, but which we will pass over as a diversion from the main focus here. Many eons latter the tidal wave of natural selection is ready to turn control of evolution over to the designs of an intelligent species. Human beings will start improving themselves from now on. How?
Using education to edify the species people are gradually improved. Now that human beings actually exist (thanks to evolution) they merit the designation “evil.” Being stupid and weak, they need to be brought up to a higher standard. Herein lies the problem. If human beings are stupid and weak and in bad need of improvement, against what standard are they being judged so, and in according to what curriculum are they to be edified? The Christian (and other theist) has an external standard, but what about the atheist? If humanity starts off as evil, is it not more likely that further attempts at self-transformation will only increase the extent and power of evil?
On the surface Progressive thinkers seem to have a boundless faith in some sort of neg-entropic principle operating in the universe. However their deeper thinkers, the ones who understand the basics of Cultural Marxism, realize that no species can pull itself up “by the bootstraps” without an external agency. Even Newtonian mechanics figured that one out. Rather they resort to class theory, abandoning Humanism (except as a ruse) and viewing the process of improvement as one where useless classes are culled from the body politic. In the last resort, there are only two classes, the class of the planners, and everyone else. However everyone else consists of two subdivisions, those who are susceptible to education and those who must be eliminated as class enemies.
There are two routs to human perfection. Edification and the Crucifixion. Blood, sweat and tears, or the blood of Jesus. One is cultural creation according to an internal standard (in other words “we make it up as we go along.”) The other is human restoration according to a standard which is both external and eternal.
The churches today must see that these two routs are mutually exclusive. One cannot believe that the essential character of humanity can be changed through a process of edification while at the same time claiming the gospel of Jesus, and Him crucified. To be sure, there is change of a technological and cultural nature, and sometimes this is highly beneficial. However it is impossible, from a Christian point of view, that the moral nature of the human species can be improved, it can only be redeemed.
But this is precisely what the Cultural Marxist does believe. All the evils which the Christian ascribes to sin, the Progressive ascribes to past (evil) culture. All the goodness and hope which the Christian places in the Kingdom of God, the Marxist aspires to in future culture. Every step forward according to the Progressive agenda (as determined by the class of planners) is a transition from the world of evil to the world of goodness in the mind of the Marxist.
This is in itself sufficient explanation as to why the self-styled Progressive is in a perpetual state of moral hysteria. Any encounter with someone who doesn’t endorse the next step of social progress is an encounter with total evil, since there are no standards of either redemption or forgiveness which transcend human society. As far as the past is concerned, all the alleged gains of Progressive/Marxist social movements are frozen in time and beyond question. Looking towards the future, every day must see the bar of moral progress raised higher and higher if the blueprints of the planning class are to attain realization. This entails less tolerance for error with each passing day, and since there is no other social or supernatural agency to enforce sanctions, more state coercion as well.
This is a tough minded religion, one in which the Cultural Marxists can take justifiable pride. But it is a religion without grace. How different this religion of human improvement through self-creation/destruction is from Christ’s redemption of a sullied but loved human nature!
Churches can follow have one or the other of these gospels… but not both.