Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We need to reform Christian culture

Why has the West fallen so far? The major culprit is the state ideology, namely secular liberalism. But I think it has to be recognised as well that the current Christian culture also feeds into this liberalism and so reinforces the problem.

In short, we are going to have to challenge the current Christian culture with a more traditionalist one.

So what is the problem with Christianity today? One problem has to do with a preeminent Christian virtue, that of caritas. In the Bible we read quotes like the following:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
And this:

as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner

Such quotes have led to a belief amongst many Christians that the highest virtue, and the path to salvation, is a selfless love of the other that transcends any particular distinctions. This can then lead to the idea that the best Christian is the one who goes furthest in sacrificing himself for the "other".

You can see how this fits in with liberalism. The liberal script is similar: the liberal elite considers itself morally superior insofar as it practises non-discrimination toward the other, unlike the non-liberal mainstream.

The current, popular understanding of caritas within Christian culture has major problems. It dissolves the particular loves and loyalties on which communities are founded in favour of a "perfected love" which is proved by "selflessly" transcending the particular. The Christian subject effectively becomes an abstracted individual, just as the liberal subject is abstracted.

Once again, we traditionalists are up against what has become established as an orthodoxy. So how do we challenge this orthodoxy?

Not by rejecting caritas as a virtue. If we love God, and if we hold that men are made in the image of God, then our loving concern for other men does not stop at those to whom we are more particularly related.

However, that doesn't mean that our particular loves and duties are rendered null and void. The Catholic Church has recognised this by formulating an "ordo caritas":

The exercise of charity would soon become injudicious and inoperative unless there be in this, as in all the moral virtues, a well-defined order...

The precedence is plain enough...Regarding the persons alone, the order is somewhat as follows: self, wife, children, parents, brothers and sisters, friends, domestics, neighbours, fellow-countrymen, and all others.

It's important, too, that Christians don't talk themselves into an abstracted sense of self that isn't enjoined on them by the Bible. As I pointed out in a previous discussion of this issue:

If I love my neighbour as I love myself I will wish for him the objective goods in life. That will include that he enjoy membership in a traditional community of his own. I will want his life to be rightly ordered.

But remember - I am loving him as I love myself - so to the extent that I wish upon him this objective good so too would I wish it upon myself and to those closest to me.

And my first responsibility in working for the achievement of these goods is to myself and those closest to me extending out in a circle to my family and friends, my neighbours, my countrymen and then all others.

Nor is caritas to be understood as a forced emotionalism. The Catholic doctrine is that the seat of caritas is to be found in the will rather than the emotions:

Its seat, in the human will. Although charity is at times intensely emotional, and frequently reacts on our sensory faculties, still it properly resides in the rational will a fact not to be forgotten by those who would make it an impossible virtue.

Finally, it's also important to remember the context in which Jesus was teaching. Judaism at the time of Jesus was divided into a number of currents: the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Zealots. Jesus appears to criticise the leading faults of each of these currents. The Zealots, for instance, were focused on violence; the Sadducees were elitist; and the Pharisees were concerned with the letter of the law:

An important binary in the New Testament is the opposition between law and love. Accordingly, the New Testament, presents the Pharisees as obsessed with man-made rules (especially concerning purity) whereas Jesus is more concerned with God’s love; the Pharisees scorn sinners whereas Jesus seeks them out. Because of the New Testament's frequent depictions of Pharisees as self-righteous rule-followers, the word "pharisee" has come into semi-common usage in English to describe a hypocritical and arrogant person who places the letter of the law above its spirit.

The story of the Good Samaritan can be read in the light of this. An "expert in the law stood up to test Jesus" and asked Jesus who exactly was his neighbour that he should love as himself. Jesus then told the story of the man who was robbed and who wasn't helped by passers-by until a stranger, a Samaritan, came by.

A reader, Gerry T. Neal, commented on this in a previous discussion as follows:

Jesus was not interested in answering the man's question but in addressing the spirit that lay behind it. By asking "who is my neighbor", the lawyer was hoping to get a definition of "neighbor" that would enable him to say "okay, these are the people I have to love, I don't have to love these other people". This reflects the legalistic attitude of "I will do what is required of me - but only the very minimum".

The parable Jesus tells, in which a robbed person, left to die on a highway, is ignored by the people who should be most concerned with helping him, and is helped by a member of a despised rival ethnic group, speaks to that attitude. The people who walked by the man in need found reasons to justify their not stopping to help. That is the kind of justification the lawyer was looking for. Jesus was not willing to give it.

This parable then, does not mean that our specific duties to love specific people, have been abrogated by Jesus and replaced with a universal command to love everybody equally. It means that our requirement to love our family and kin, our friends and neighbors, and our countryman, does not translate into an excuse for a lack of compassion and charity towards others to whom we do not have those specific bonds of attachment.

We are not to have a "closed off" attitude of doing the minimum required by the letter of the law. That's not supposed to be the motivating spirit. Jesus emphasised this because his interrogator was a Pharisee. If we were walking along and saw someone of another ethnic group in trouble would we help out? Or would we turn our backs because we thought, in a legalistic sense, we weren't obliged to assist?

Surely it is possible to think that we would stop and help a fellow human being, as an act of loving concern (caritas), without then dissolving all particular human relationships into an abstracted "serve the other". The former is clearly enjoined on us by the Bible. The latter is not.

41 comments:

  1. The Catholic Church has recognised this by formulating an "ordo caritas":


    The exercise of charity would soon become injudicious and inoperative unless there be in this, as in all the moral virtues, a well-defined order...

    The precedence is plain enough...Regarding the persons alone, the order is somewhat as follows: self, wife, children, parents, brothers and sisters, friends, domestics, neighbours, fellow-countrymen, and all others


    if jesus had wanted "ordo caritas" he'd have said it

    instead the catholic church in the glory of its inviolate wisdom "formulates" what it is not commanded, and gets it exactly wrong... as usual

    charity does not begin with self and family (this leads to the peculiar family-worship so rife in western churches)

    with his birth-mother nearby christ named his family "those who do my father's will" and not necessarily blood-kin

    jesus said start with "all others" -- in judea he told a rich kid to give everything to the poor (i.e. strangers, all others) and follow him

    it was like scorched earth -- a widening void of humanity opening up around him, and spreading outward as people GOT AWAY from THAT noise! :O)

    still yr point about 'abstract' secular humanism/liberalism is well taken -- it only became a real problem, tho, with advent of "liberation theology" (aka satanic theology) in churches pandering to worldly ideopolitics

    therefore

    we are going to have to challenge the current Christian culture with a more traditionalist one.

    is right, to say the least

    ReplyDelete
  2. if jesus had wanted "ordo caritas" he'd have said it

    Did Jesus say everything?

    charity does not begin with self and family (this leads to the peculiar family-worship so rife in western churches)

    So if I give my wages to Oxfam and tell my wife there's nothng left to put food on the table with in my own home, that's OK?

    I'd rather try to be a good father in my own home and encourage other men elsewhere to be the same.

    with his birth-mother nearby christ named his family "those who do my father's will" and not necessarily blood-kin

    Isn't Christ a bit exceptional here?

    ReplyDelete
  3. that the current Christian culture also feeds into this liberalism

    And worst of all, the mainstream churches are embracing the ideology of the Left out of a sense of weakness. They honesty believe they can draw people back to their churches by removing Christianity from Christianity and replacing it with secular humanism. It's sad, deluded and tragic.

    It's another example of the biggest problem of all. The Left keeps advancing, while conservatives just keep on retreating.

    ReplyDelete
  4. the mainstream churches are embracing the ideology of the Left out of a sense of weakness.

    Which is true and problematic, but what has really shocked me of late is not so much the liberalisation of the churches but the way that Christian culture itself has evolved.

    In other words, it's not just the Episcopalian leadership adopting trendy liberal positions that's the issue. It's the shedding within Christian culture of any concern for the created being of men and women.

    It is leading Christians, even those on the right, to become unmoored - to lose the necessary reference points that might allow them to defend not only the traditional institutions of society, but even the basic moral standards that Christianity once supported.

    It is a form of Christianity that is going to crash hard.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mark Richardson wrote...

    It's the shedding within Christian culture of any concern for the created being of men and women.

    Most churches today are just social clubs.

    to lose the necessary reference points that might allow them to defend not only the traditional institutions of society, but even the basic moral standards that Christianity once supported.

    The roots of this failure go back decades unfortunately. That's why it's difficult to imagine that anything can save churches like the Anglican Church. They've made too many fatal compromises. Even the Catholic Church seems to have lost sight of the fact that once you start to compromise you're lost.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mark Richardson wrote...

    It is a form of Christianity that is going to crash hard.

    It's the reason for an otherwise inexplicable fact - the embrace of Islam by so many westerners. Islam at least appears to stand for something. Muslim clerics actually believe in God, and they actually believe that moral rules mean something. So the sorts of people who might have formed the backbone of the Christian churches are the ones most likely to convert to Islam.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Stepping quickly past what Jesus would have wanted, about which I know nothing, I have an issue with this list: "self, wife, children, parents, brothers and sisters, friends, domestics, neighbours, fellow-countrymen, and all others." Or rather Andrew Fraser exposes a problem with it, here.

    The problem of the WASPs is that they have committed and entrusted themselves to the state, and the state has betrayed them. They have no ethnic defense, and are fatally vulnerable to those who form and compete through cohesive collective entities that thrive below the state level and also transcend the state.

    In the list you gave, there is nothing above the state, which is not how non-Whites play the game.

    And there is very little below the state, till we get to neighbors (to whom our duties are miniscule, even if we know who they are, and even if they happen to speak the same language as us, which may not be the case) and then there is family.

    And family in time must crumble, when everything else has gone multicultural.

    In a sense, family collapses immediately, because it loses a vital part of what was always the business of family, that is planning a future for a genetically related group that extends beyond any foreseeable end. When it is resonably predictable that in a few generations everything will be washed away (whether through negative fertility, panmixia, loss of control of culture and resources or some combination of the above) the pleasures of family are no longer of a radically different kind than the pleasures of a good DVD collection.

    ReplyDelete
  8. In a sense, family collapses immediately, because it loses a vital part of what was always the business of family, that is planning a future for a genetically related group that extends beyond any foreseeable end.

    Well put. And it's important that this be recognised by the churches. The spirited man is going to want to preserve not only the family but the larger conditions of family life. It will be dispiriting (demoralising) if these are lost. A church should be committed to maintaining those conditions.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The spirited man is going to want to preserve not only the family but the larger conditions of family life. It will be dispiriting (demoralising) if these are lost. A church should be committed to maintaining those conditions.

    Well put.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Luke 9:

    As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

    58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

    59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

    But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

    60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

    61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

    62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

    Its pretty conclusive that the duty to God, according to Jesus, ranks higher than our ties to family or culture. Now that is Jesus, and he sets a pretty high bar. Is he "exceptional"? You bet.

    Christianity requires us to promote morality in the conduct of our lives. This morality exists today but God has been removed. The left promote morality but they are statist secularists, and so morality gets pushed through that lense. Liberal individualists promote morality but their morality turns on the rights of the individual, again God is removed.

    It is not Christianity that is the problem with modern society but the substantial absence of it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It is not Christianity that is the problem with modern society but the substantial absence of it.

    No, I think there are two problems. First, the logical unfolding of liberalism. Second, a boiled down version of Christianity that crudely underrepresents issues of ontology (being), epistemology (knowledge) and telos (aims/goals).

    If we were to successfully rid ourselves of liberalism and hand society over to the current crop of Christians, Western society would be gone within a couple of decades. The current culture of Christianity just isn't a fit alternative - it has to be challenged.

    Jesse, you wrote:

    It's pretty conclusive that the duty to God, according to Jesus, ranks higher than our ties to family or culture.

    To me that's an artificial way of looking at it. Formally it's true. To use a rough example: if our father orders us to murder someone, but we hold that God forbids it, then our higher duty is to God. No arguments there.

    But the more significant point is that our belonging to families and peoples should not be set against our spiritual lives and duties but intertwined.

    It is sometimes said that there is a tripartite order of being: the natural, the social and the divine.

    But this doesn't mean that we must put each human institution or relationship in one category or the other.

    Instead, there is a natural, a social and a divine dimension to each.

    Take marriage. That is based partly in nature, partly in the social and partly in the divine. We could defend marriage using arguments drawing on each aspect of the order of being.

    Could you really say that marriage is wholly social in nature? Or wholly natural? Or wholly divine? I don't think so. The three dimensions intertwine.

    So it's not helpful to say that we have to rise above marriage to the divine - as that is there within marriage itself - our loyalty to God is demonstrated through our commitments to a sacralised form of marriage.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mark wrote,

    "So it's not helpful to say that we have to rise above marriage to the divine - as that is there within marriage itself - our loyalty to God is demonstrated through our commitments to a sacralised form of marriage."

    Yes, and too many highly influential Christians in America, at least, do not understand this. I agree that if such highly influential Christians led our country, we'd be in trouble.

    By way of example, Beth Moore has been popular with Christian women for the last decade. In her devotional book "Breaking Free", she writes of women who are unwillingly single. She says that, far from being deprived, these women have been blessed. Why? Jesus is "saving them all for himself".

    You see the problem. She writes as if union with the opposite sex came at the expense of perfect union with God. Thus, it logically follows, that people who do not marry are somehow eligible for an extra-special union with God.

    She isn't the only evangelical that peddles this idea (and some combat it. John Eldredge, for example, writes forcefully against it), and I don't think it's an idea that evangelicals came up with all on their own.

    It's true that the Catholics believe in the ordo caritas, and we Protestants could learn a thing or two from them about order. However, it's also true that Catholics believe in priestly celibacy and for reasons uncomfortably close to the popular evangelical position espoused by Beth Moore. After all, priests do not marry because they are "married to Christ", etc.

    Christians, Protestant and Catholic, have got to take a hard look at how they treat not only the Other, but how they treat themselves. Just as we would not treat other people as rootless abstractions, neither should we treat ourselves that way.

    I sometimes wonder if Jesus walked with us today what sort of parables he would tell. Does anyone really think he'd bother telling the story of the Good Samaritan? Or might he tell the story of the Good Brother/Father/Countryman?

    ReplyDelete
  13. That should read,

    "priests do not marry because they are 'married to the Church'"

    ReplyDelete
  14. In part this is a problem of a particular way of viewing universalism, really.

    In the Orthodox East, this problem in itself is less manifest. The conception is of the full church "in a particular place" (epi tou auto), rather than one localization of a universalist Church. The difference is a subtle yet important one. In the universalist conception (which is closer to the Western Catholic one, but which the Catholics themselves have been trying to tamp down somewhat), the Church has a visible and universal center, which "trumps" the local manifestations of it. In this way, one can speak of American Catholics or Brazilian Catholics or what have you, and they have national episcopal synods and so on, but the real conception is that the Church exists outside this ethno-national mix and is "above" it, being universal, global and "headquartered" somewhere else.

    In the East, the conception is that the local churches are all mirrors of each other, and that they are not existing outside the ethno-national context in which they exist. This is often confusing in the West, I think. For example, the Russian Orthodox Church sees the Orthodox Church or Greece, or the Church of Serbia, for example, as local manifestations of the one "Orthodox Church" -- there is no hierarchy among them, or something that stands "above" the ethno-national identification of these churches with their respective ethnos. However, the church in "one particular place" is primarily concerned with the issues faced by the Christians and the culture in that particular place, and, in the Orthodox world, has become pretty entrenched in the culture (one manifestation of this is how amazingly quickly the Russian Orthodox Church resurrected itself after 70 years of state persecution in Russia).

    The problem, however, is that the Orthodox approach doesn't mesh very well with a pluralistic culture like we have in most Western countries. So, unfortunately, many Orthodox living in the West have seemed to be content with their own ethnos-based churches, because the mindset is hard to integrate with the universalist self-conception of Western cultures. In the US, we have some Orthodox here noodling about what it would mean to create an "inculturated American Orthodoxy" (i.e., making it an American ethnos Church -- the Church in a particular place, again), yet this is hard to imagine in practice, and there is also much fear of corruption from the ambient liberal Western values.

    Over and against this, we have the Protestant idea of the church being so particularized and personalized, that representing/reacpitulating the collective faith of either something as broad as an ethnos, or something universalist, is hard to square. American protestant Christianity, in particular, with its strong emphasis on "personal relationship with Jesus" and "personally being saved" and "personally accepting Jesus as my savior" and so on is, in its essence, a quitessentially American religious expression, building as it does on the foundation of individualism that runs like a streak through American culture.

    In any case, I do think you're correct that something lurking underneath these issues relates to how Christians in the West view the relationship between Christianity and their own ethnos, but I'm not sure how easy this is to solve, because my own thought is that these ideas have rather deep foundations in Western Christianity -- deeper than the cultural machinations caused by the 20th Century, really.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Elizabeth,

    "Sexperiment: you need to learn to have sex up here (pointing to his head) before you can learn to have it down here (pointing to his groin)."

    lol, no you don't. Hasn't this guy ever been to the ghetto? Thanks for the link Elizabeth.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Christians, Protestant and Catholic, have got to take a hard look at how they treat not only the Other, but how they treat themselves. Just as we would not treat other people as rootless abstractions, neither should we treat ourselves that way.

    I sometimes wonder if Jesus walked with us today what sort of parables he would tell. Does anyone really think he'd bother telling the story of the Good Samaritan? Or might he tell the story of the Good Brother/Father/Countryman?


    Bartholomew, that is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be boldly said. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. if jesus had wanted "ordo caritas" he'd have said it

    Did Jesus say everything?

    he said everything he wanted to (at the time) on the subject of love, and he did not mention ordo caritas nor anything even vaguely equivalent

    rather he commanded the opposite, as i noted in the judean/jordan epistle to the rich boy, also in luke 9 as cited by jesse7 -- i'd also toss lot's wife in that mix

    she turned back from both obedience (to god's servant) and from the future (christ's kingdom) b/c she clung to her extended family and neighbors left behind, and also to her material possessions

    so she became eternally what she could not abandon in obedience (pass the Mrs Lot please!)

    if the ground was shaking and churches were falling around my ears, i'd be less inclined to creating new scripture/clever opinions and more to obedience

    I'd rather try to be a good father in my own home and encourage other men elsewhere to be the same.


    ok well i'm looking for the bible passage directing us to heed What Mark Rathers....

    :O)


    with his birth-mother nearby christ named his family "those who do my father's will" and not necessarily blood-kin

    Isn't Christ a bit exceptional here?

    no -- it's just plain truth

    the lesson of the rich boy, however, WAS an example of exceptionalism -- a path offered for the elect or exceptional (tho closed to none)

    his equivalence of kinship with "those who do my father's will" is a "common" declaration and command, and he made it in proximity of his blood-kin precisely to underline his message, however unpopular: that authentic service to god establishes the true and eternal family, a message of such import and necessity that he intentionally left his "personal family" OUTSIDE the door while presenting the lesson

    that lesson is for everybody, and yr resistance to it is mirrored, as i mentioned previously, in the worldly family-worship that church has become

    you are not commanded to serve your family, but to serve god, b/c it is god who takes care of your family, not you


    So if I give my wages to Oxfam and tell my wife there's nothng left to put food on the table with in my own home, that's OK?

    where does the food and wage come from, mark? from you or from god?

    whose table is it?

    ps homeless guys in the street probly a better choice than oxfam :O)

    i'm glad to hear your promotion of fatherhood, and i'll bet you're a good one

    but the catholic church is in apostasy about ordo caritas as much as its devotion and prayers to mary as "co-redemptrix" with jesus

    these are dogmas that the sheep very much wish to hear, but they are not of christ, to say the least

    ReplyDelete
  18. you are not commanded to serve your family, but to serve god, b/c it is god who takes care of your family, not you

    Right, I'll be off to the pub then.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Mark said,

    "If we were to successfully rid ourselves of liberalism and hand society over to the current crop of Christians, Western society would be gone within a couple of decades. The current culture of Christianity just isn't a fit alternative - it has to be challenged."

    If you were to hand it over to the anemic and socialist Christians of the UK and Aus as exemplified by say the Archbishop of Canterbury then you're absolutely right. If you were to ask such people if they believed in God you'd get a temporising answer. They're no longer Christians because such people don't believe in the central place of God, in an afterlife, in the resurrection etc. They may have the trappings but not the faith and what they do believe in is socialism.

    You can't exactly say that of America though where there are still many firebreathing and devout Christians, no matter the number of new age backsliders, and this partly reflects their nation's vigor. I agree that the modern "personal relation with Jesus" view is very weak.

    Christianity doesn't have to be set against culture but it does have to be set higher than it, because that's what the Bible requires, please no more reinterpretations of what Jesus said. If for instance you could be a good Christian merely by being nice to your wife there would be no need for priests, monks or nuns. These people's elevated examples set them above others in their commitment and belief, and this is set out in the Bible. That does not mean that everyone should follow their example, which is also set out, or that other activities are not of value but it does however mean there is a clear hierarchy of commitment.

    Christianity strengthens us in the preservation of our culture because we have work on earth to do and so should not be seen as the enemy. Christian culture will be reformed when people look to Christianity as the highest and most central part of their lives and stop trying to fit a watered down version of it into what they wanted to do anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  20. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2079391/Mother-Veronica-Buttigie-donates-kidney-dying-stranger-Manoly-Viravong.html

    Check this out.

    Just because you meet the 'other' at a party doesn't mean you have to hand them a kidney.

    I mean this is getting ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Sorry Jesse, I'd like to agree but I can't.

    I don't think the problem is just with the secularised and liberalised forms of Christianity.

    There are serious, well-intentioned Christians attempting to be orthodox who are also part of the problem.

    You wrote:

    Christianity doesn't have to be set against culture but it does have to be set higher than it, because that's what the Bible requires, please no more reinterpretations of what Jesus said.

    So there is to be no sacred order. There is to be a dualism in which an abstracted religion is external to our created natures and to our social being, so that the most religiously committed man will be the one who transcends these things.

    That means that the most committed Christians will be the ones who press most toward the dissolution of the communities they live in.

    I just don't believe that such a dualism is the truth. The man who is most genuinely in relationship with God will also be the man who is most strongly centred in his created nature. He will seek to defend the Good that exists in the world he inhabits - he will be something like a Christian knight and not something like a 60s flower child.

    Yes, a serious Christianity must discern clearly the message of the Bible. But even so you cannot ground a religion by grabbing sound bites from the Bible. This is something alluded to in the Bible itself. For instance, we have this:

    The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

    The words point to something and it's difficult to know what they point to if you are unspiritual and cannot discern the spiritual reality the words attempt to describe.

    So a Christian should try to be a spiritual man rather than just a reader of the Bible. But what brings us to a spiritual condition? Certainly not the soul destroying conditions of life that occur when a society is dissolved.

    There is a beautiful line in the Bible in which Paul says:

    Those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God.

    Does not the Spirit lead us to love our children and our wives? Does not the Spirit give us a sense of the transcendent value of the traditions we belong to? Does not the Spirit tell us that loyalty to these traditions is a virtue?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Jesse, I don't see where anyone has reinterpreted what Jesus said. There is a difference between interpretation and inference, right?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Jesse wrote,

    Christianity doesn't have to be set against culture but it does have to be set higher than it, because that's what the Bible requires, please no more reinterpretations of what Jesus said.

    Maybe you mean to say that Christianity purifies the culture to which its joined? I think you'd be on more solid ground biblically. After all, how would you describe what happens to a person who becomes a Christian? Would you say that Christ has taken him over, our would you say that Christ has sanctified him? When we think of possession and spirituality don't we usually mean what demons do? Christ doesn't possess and control us. Likewise when Christ comes into larger organic units like the family, nation and race. He doesn't take them over; he purifies them and makes them, as themselves, indeed even more themselves than they've ever been, right before God.

    C.S. Lewis made this point in the Screwtape Letters.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm not merely "quoting" the Bible when I refer to some of its core precepts which are repeated again and again and again. You're also on tricky ground when you argue "it feels right therefore that's the spirit talking to me". That argument can just as easily be used by gays and polygamists for marriage. Yes support for our traditions is obvious in the Bible, but that’s not the only thing there though.

    Is the most Christian man the one most committed to the destruction of his community? I don't accept that. We clearly have Government and nations, and cultures on earth, and this is supported by the Bible. Indeed we were divided into nations after Babel. The undermining of our nations and culture and hearth and home destroy that. Nowhere are we told to passively lay down and be conquered, nor is the Church called upon to take up the role of Government on earth. Jesus said to go out and convert all the nations on earth, he didn't say that they should all become one.

    Jesus purifies us yes but it is also a two way street and we must come under his authority. I also agree this discussion has the potential to be tedious as we're all interested here in the preservation of our culture. As for the good Samaritan he couldn’t have helped anyone nor given anything if he had nothing to give.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Right, I'll be off to the pub then


    flippancy is not an adult answer, nor a biblical defense of your prior statements (which have no biblical defense)

    ReplyDelete
  26. you are not commanded to serve your family, but to serve god, b/c it is god who takes care of your family, not you

    Ray, I think you exaggerate the temptation to idolatry. You seem to believe that by committing themselves to family, that people will worship the family rather than God.

    I agree that we are commanded to serve God. But how do we do this? I suspect that many serious Christians boil things down too much: they take a few quotes from the Bible and attempt to apply these and end up dissolving themselves and society in the process.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Likewise when Christ comes into larger organic units like the family, nation and race. He doesn't take them over; he purifies them and makes them, as themselves, indeed even more themselves than they've ever been, right before God.

    Bartholomew, that's very well explained.

    I don't know if you're still reading this thread, but if you are I'd encourage you to write down your ideas on these issues. The more systematically they can be expressed the better.

    I say that because there is a traditionalist wing of Christianity in the process of forming and it is going to need to be able to express its belief distinctly from the modern culture of Christianity.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Ray,

    We are told that a man who does not take care of his family is worse than an infidel. (1Tim5:8). To say that Mark has the order wrong in supporting his family is unbiblical.

    Luzu

    ReplyDelete
  29. Jesus said love your neighbor, but he never said that we must love all neighbors equally.

    Equality is not a Christian principle. It derives immediately from Marxism and ultimately the sin of envy.

    Churches, just like most institutions today, view reality through the lens of equality. That perspective is very warped.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Jesus said love your neighbor, but he never said that we must love all neighbors equally.

    A good point.

    I don't think I've got a good enough grasp on this yet. But at the moment I would argue along the lines that the commandment to love does not erase the love we feel for particulars: for our spouse and children, for our wider family, for the created nature around us, for place, for our countrymen, for our communal tradition, for a settled way of life amongst a particular people, for the generations past and future.

    What Christianity ought to do is to divinise this love - and to explain why we are brought toward a sense of the sacred when we experience it - why we feel a larger sense of connectedness which settles us and brings us to a sense of our true purposes and authentic life.

    And that it is right for traditionalists to seek to uphold these forms of connectedness as significant expressions of the Good.

    However, it must be said that the emphasis in the New Testament is not on such particular objects - it is on extending the idea of love to all men and to those who are undeserving or even to those who are our enemies.

    Traditionalists most certainly do not oppose this in principle. Our "settled will to do good" (benevolent love or agape love) does not stop at those we are closely connected to. We should will the good for all men.

    And at the time of the New Testament the particular loves were not in doubt - they did not need to be defended. There was some admonishment for people to show filial piety and to support their own families, but in general it would not have been a striking message to admonish people to feel a loving-connectedness to people or place. What became striking about Christianity was the message that there was no end-point to which the "settled will to do good" (benevolent love) applied.

    And the problem for traditionalists is that this leaves some Christians with a tendency to read the message of the New Testament as a dissolving one - a love that dissolves all distinctions and in which we are called to service in the most abstract and self-sacrificing way for the other (and there are a couple of passages which can be drawn on to support this reading).

    And another problem. The emphasis in the New Testament is on love and faith - which again is not contrary in itself to traditionalism.

    But what isn't drawn out are particular forms of being - which again would not have been in question in Biblical times.

    A harmonised spiritual life draws together our particular loves and the commitments we draw from them, as well as an imperative common to all created beings to fulfil and to express our particular natures - to realise ourselves to the highest level - to develop our best qualities of body, mind and spirit as men and women.

    ReplyDelete
  31. (continued)

    And this can indeed be harmonised. Our masculine drive to protect our families and communities is recognised as a nobler development of our manhood as well as expressing a commitment to our particular loves.

    (And here we come to a sense of Virtue and of virtues.)

    And, finally, it is difficult to deny that we are oriented, in the better, spiritual part of our nature, to the good, the beautiful and the true. These are often silently contemplated - we don't need to show benevolence toward a flower or a woman's face. And it is obvious that all men - including strangers and our enemies - can similarly experience the world.

    But a traditionalist will recognise aspects of the good, the beautiful and the true within his own tradition and people and feel a particular duty and motivation to uphold these things - perhaps he might see a particular beauty within the women of his community, or the created landscape, or within an artistic tradition and wish to preserve the aspects of the good, the beautiful and the true to which he is most closely related and has a clearest duty toward.

    The New Testament does talk about the spiritual man and holding fast to the good - but it doesn't particularise greatly - perhaps again because that was assumed - so unless a traditionalist movement is there to move from the general to the particular a Christian culture is likely to once again be abstracted.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I sometimes wonder if Jesus walked with us today what sort of parables he would tell. Does anyone really think he'd bother telling the story of the Good Samaritan?

    That's a crucial point. We have to accept that Palestine 2,000 years ago is a different situation compared to the one we face today. Faced with a hostile civilisation backed by the overwhelming military might of Rome there was little else to do other than to counsel turning the other cheek.

    Unfortunately brotherly love and turning the other cheek didn't achieve very much against the onslaught of Marxism in the 20th century. It won't achieve very much when you're faced with Islamic jihadists today. Or when you're faced with aggressive enemies of civilisation like Obama or Bob Brown who are determined to destroy western Christian civilisation utterly.

    2,000 years ago Christians were the ones undermining an established civilisation. Christians then were in the same position as the cultural Marxists of the 20th and 21st centuries, slowly destroying pagan civilisation from within. Today we're in the position that Christian Roman civilisation was in four or five centuries later faced with external barbarians and internal collapse. Brotherly love isn't going to save our civilisation.

    ReplyDelete
  33. dfordoom,

    I too used to have strong feelings about the early Christian fathers who seemed more interested in arguing points of doctrine and making Emperors pass under the yoke then defending the Empire from foreign conquest. Nonetheless by that time the Roman Empire had clearly been struggling for a long time. A society without a strong moral and spiritual foundation cannot stand long, no matter what its physical defences are. However, while God is with us, anything is possible.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Ask and ye shall receive.

    Trevor Sullivan is a Qld minister who appears to be at least against Muslim immigration.

    ReplyDelete
  35. LOL
    let me just say mark that i find your blog to be comical because of the hypocrite that you are. you 're all about conservatism and yet here you are on the internet voicing out your extremist opinions. isnt voicing your opinions liberalistic, was it not the liberalists who fought for freedom of speech? let me just put it forward that i am neither liberal or conservative simply because people who perscribe to such inferior philosophies betray their own lack of intellect. i am christian and i am disgusted at how so many conservatives such as yourself would dare to call themselves christian when most of you dont know the meaning of the word. people who can only see black and white and only two different sides explain exactly why the world is so wrong. if you are so christian then let me give you some bible verses for you to learn some wisdom from.ecclesiastes 7: 16. "Do not be overly RIGHTEOUS, nor be overly wise: why should you destroy yourself? do not be overly wicked nor be foolish, why should you die before your time?"Joshua 1:7. " only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which moses my servant commanded you, do not turn from it to the RIGHT HAND or to the LEFT, that you may prosper wherever you go." these two verses clearly state that christians must have a balanced view of everything. one cannot be too moralistic and conservative because such people end up being hypocrites and one cannot be too liberal, living without any boundaries. jesus addressed both the sadduccees (the liberals) and the pharisees (the conservatives).i am disgusted at how you have taken the greatest commandments in the bible, and twisted them according to your own ends. When Jesus said that we should love others as we do ourselves, that was a direct command which needs no interpretation. because if you try to find loopholes in this then God will throw you into hell for you conservative hypocrisy. perhaps you should read the parable of the unmerciful servant as well to understand what i am saying. if you are a real christian, then you would have prayed the prayer of repentance for the remission of your sins through the blood of jesus. by doing so you are asking God to pardon your OWN impefections! how dare you then think you have a right to judge somebody else when God has already pardoned you!!! and in the parable of the unmerciful servant it clearly states that the servant in question was thrown into hell by the "master" (God).
    you've also said, and i quote, " If I love my neighbour as I love myself I will wish for him the objective goods in life. That will include that he enjoy membership in a traditional community of his own. I will want his life to be rightly ordered."
    your interpretation is flawed and satanic, if God wanted you to be happy with you own kind then why does the holy spirit send missionaries out to foreign peoples?

    ReplyDelete
  36. and you also say," In short, we are going to have to challenge the current Christian culture with a more traditionalist one."
    where did God say in the bible that christianity has to be traditionally western? this in itself implies that you think that white people are superior to everyone else? what are liberals then supposed to say? it is you, not liberals who provide ammunition of resentment towards people like you. from my own divine experience i have seen the spirit of Jesus working in ALL OF TYPES OF PEOPLE. not just white people just because you think that God is partial towards whites. you complain that liberal accuse conservatives of outdated perceptions, and yet you say that the western world has declined because of the lack of traditional christianity? what you have failed to understand because you are a fake, unspiritually filled christian, is that God is reaching to all nations to spread His love, because this was the great commission that jesus himself gave in the book of matthew 28:19 " go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit." and jesus said something else, "John 15:13 - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
    the friends that jesus is talking about here, does not just include your family and friends of your own culture or beliefs it includes ANYBODY who belongs to the family of christ regardless of culture and language. what is going to happen oneday when you find people of other cultures and races in heaven? are you going to ask jesus that you live separately from other people who are not like you? if Jesus died on the cross for EVERYBODY and if he loves everybody EQUALLY then this should be the example that we must follow. Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." to be a sinner is to be a stranger to God in a spiritual sense because in God there is no sin and God does not practise sin. and yet Jesus sacrificed his life for all of us when we were strangers and brutes in front of God. the fact that you twist the scriptures and preach otherwise proves that you are not a genuine christian. by saying that you should not love everybody equally and that you should only love those who are like you, you are basically saying that jesus only died for a certain group of people and not for anyone else! john 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

    jesus himself will turn to you and say, : get away from you me you evil doer for i do not know you. you have taken the name of our Good Lord and soiled it for your own evil.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Anon,

    I would have taken your comment more seriously if you had represented my views more accurately.

    I don't claim to be an expert on Christian theology, so I am open-minded when it comes to these kinds of discussions.

    But I can tell you from my experiences with suburban Catholicism that my own church is lacking in real inspiration and is culturally moribund.

    That won't be solved by denying the problem or by extracting Bible verses to throw at those trying to address the issue.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.