Friday, February 15, 2019

Social Justice Index

In September 2018 John MacArthur began a series of blog posts and sermons on how the modern social justice movement is nothing but historic liberalism. See his work here, here, here, here, and here.

In response our beloved blog site With Heart And Mouth split and collapsed.

I wrote a piece offering some initial thoughts and shelved the topic for awhile. And then after some careful consideration and a large break I decided to examine more closely the claim that social justice is liberalism. I disagree with John on a number of key points, and he tends to compress issues somewhat unfairly. But he's our modern day Spurgeon, and his point deserved due regard. 

My thinking through the issue here.

A follow on post

Screwtape I
Screwtape II
Screwtape III
Screwtape IV
Screwtape V
Screwtape VI

Concluding thoughts

Social Justice & Screwtape VI


My Dear Wormwood.

Based on the information in your last report (which I cross checked thoroughly) I have put you in for a commendation with the Lowerarchs. Globhiss let your patient become a formidable Christian in one of the most noxious and fearsome Churches we know of, then foolishly allowed him to catechize his children in the true knowledge of the Enemy. Small wonder we sent Globhiss to the House of Corrections and reassigned the patient to you. 

Lesser tempters would have complained that taking over in such a situation was unfair, but through the focused, sleepless application of force and careful obedience to your betters you have brought him back to us. Your patient now constantly insinuates that the genuine Christians around him are racists. His wife is estranged from him while yet living with him, his children despise what he has become, and he sees none of it, instead believing he is suffering for the sake of the Enemy’s Kingdom. I can see his end now, standing before his judge, outraged. “Did I not do many wonderful things in your name!? Did I not write many articles? Was I not entirely devoted to your cause?” The Enemy will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you” and will hand him over to us. He will observe how his hard work won him hell, he will realize what we’ve done to him, and then we will feast on him.

There is yet much to be done, to be sure. We must get him out of that church still, for it is an ever present danger to us. But insofar as it is possible, you have immunized him to it, as we immunized the Babylonian Exiles to the preaching of Ezekiel. He believes that our social fashions are imperatives that confer moral progress. He smiles at fellow church goers in person and denounces them as villains online. He follows our fads built on anti-Christian premises zealously. He is continually goaded into saying ever increasingly foolish things by extremists, but retains enough intelligence to create ambiguity and plausible deniability by them. We very nearly annihilated his own denomination with liberalism years ago and yet he is blind to what we do to it today. Oh it is a marvelous thing you’ve done to him Wormwood, be proud of yourself.

Do not be surprised if you are reassigned shortly. A future repentance may yet mar all, but the ever growing size required of it and the unconscious bias against it he’s built up makes repentance increasingly unlikely. Your patient can be managed by another tempter now Wormwood, you are too valuable to waste on him further.

Your Affectionate and Increasingly Proud Uncle,

Screwtape

Social Justice & Screwtape V


My Dear Wormwood.

In your last letter you speak of nothing but enjoying the fruits of your work. Fool! Do not let your guard down yet! How many souls have slipped through the fingers of young tempters because they had not kept their head after an initial promising success? Have you already forgotten your training on human pleasure and pain at the college? You must see to it he experiences neither.

In the first place we don’t want the vermin to be happy, as this is what the Enemy desires. He has a bourgeois mind Wormwood, He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least—sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working, Everything has to be twisted before it's any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.

In the second place suffering has a way of bringing clarity to a human mind, which means under no circumstances are you to let your patient experience real suffering. The safest road to our father’s house is the one without milestones or markers, the gradual, broad road of assurance—and there is no greater alarm bell than suffering. If your patient believes he is struggling on behalf of those who are oppressed by society and sharing their burden, while at the same time living a life of indulgence and sloth, then he will count his false suffering as genuine and you will win your man. If at any point however he has to endure real suffering that cannot be cured with medicine he may repent and we will lose him.

Neither pain nor pleasure Wormwood. It is difficult, but thanks to decades of materialism we have taught the humans who have never suffered to fear suffering as the greatest evil, and at the same time ignore others who are very near to them and suffering deeply, so it is possible. And when combined with the fashion of intersectionality we can induce immorality unimagined 80 years ago. We make parents sacrifice to give their children luxury and privilege, then make the children viciously denounce them to the watching world since growing up without privilege gives them credibility and popularity. Thus they betray the love and devotion of their family for strangers, while still taking their parents money and affection for granted. And why does this work? Because the pleasure of having affirmation online is no real pleasure at all, and the pain of betraying parents is muted by the child not having to pay the price of alienation.

Do you see how this works? Your patients pleasure should come from performing the habits we’ve trained into him—since that gives no real pleasure at all—and his pain should come from his imagined suffering he identifies with. Every moment you keep that up is a moment he grows closer to us without realizing it.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screwtape

Next: Part VI


Social Justice & Screwtape IV


My Dear Wormwood.

So, a great number of your patient’s online friends has abandoned him because he has become intolerable to them have they? Excellent. Encourage him to believe they have left because he is righteous and they are wicked, rather than because he often behaves in a way the Enemy disapproves of—this is your chance to make him upset at the indifference and hard heartedness of his fellow Christians. But take care not to let him get angry or bitter at himself, for he must be angry against society on behalf of those who have no voice. He must conceive of himself as both a noble advocate and a selfless guardian, without which the helpless will suffer.

This calls for a deft touch Wormwood. Normally men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury, or by feeling that a legitimate claim had been denied to them. The more claims on life, therefore, they could be induced to make, the more often they would feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered. But though our efforts we have now produced a class of men who are perpetually aggravated on behalf of those who are not outraged in the least. The poorest member of your patient’s society possess comfort and wealth unimagined by earlier generations, (as does your patient) and yet he is more agitated and miserable than ever.

Because we have made anger fashionable your patient will of his own volition announce his anger to appear virtuous to his remaining friends, and I cannot overstate what a useful behavior this is for us. Fashions distract the attention of men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under. Thus we make it fashionable to expose the dangers of enthusiasm at the very moment when they are all really becoming worldly and lukewarm; a century later, when we are really making them all drunk with emotion, the fashionable outcry is directed against the dangers of the mere "understanding". Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritansm; and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make freedom the prime bogey. In your case your patient must fear the apathy of his age. He must blame poverty for its immorality and regard hard work and tenacity as its chief virtues.

Do your best to conform your patient’s thinking to the fashionable outrage of the age Wormwood. It is one of our most useful tools.

Your affectionate Uncle,

Screwtape

Next: Part V


Friday, February 8, 2019

Social Justice & Screwtape III


My Dear Wormwood.

You complained in your last letter that I have oversimplified the process by which your man can be made to create a counterfeit Jesus. Your training at the academy must have been deficient if you believe that. Lowerarchs than you and I have already laid the ground work, all we must do is finish what they have started.

Understand that the Enemy loves platitudes. Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions: “Is it righteous? Is it prudent? Is it possible?” Now if we can instead keep men asking, "Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive? Is this the way that History is going?" then they will quickly neglect the Enemy’s plan for themselves. And the questions they do ask are, of course, unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices which they now invoke. This will throw them into chaos, and while their minds are buzzing with fear we can produce behavior in our favor. In your case, stridency, anger, and snark are the best course of action while online.

Later, when his conscience awakens (and it will awaken Wormwood, the Enemy will see to it) you must work hard to soothe it. Assure your patient that he has done what is right, and that you are pleased with Him for his faithfulness. Because he does not believe in us he will instead believe that voice belongs to the Enemy, and thus the behavior will be repeated. And that’s it Wormwood, that’s all you must do to win your man. Do this and you will strengthen the cultural Jesus he already believes in, reducing the actual one to irrelevancy. The weeds have already been sown Wormwood, your job is to provide them the space for to grow by validating him.

And now I trust you see the genius in our work. In the last generation we broadly promoted the construction of a liberal and humanitarian Jesus to the exclusion of His wrath; today your man has been preconditioned to believe in a cultural Jesus who approves of strict judgment, powerful exclusivity, and pure holiness for true believers. The advantages of these constructions, which we change every thirty years or so, are manifold.
In the first place they all tend to direct men's devotion to something which does not exist, for each cultural Jesus is absurdly unhistorical. The Scriptures say what they say and cannot be added to; therefore each new cultural Jesus has to be gotten by suppressing His characteristics at one point and exaggerating at another.
In the second place, all such constructions place the importance of their cultural Jesus in some peculiar theory He is supposed to have promulgated. He has to be a "great man" in the modern sense of the word—one standing at the terminus of some centrifugal and unbalanced line of thought (such as racial reconciliation)—and without their realization he becomes a crank vending a panacea. We thus distract men's minds from Who He is, and what He did.
Our third aim is, by these constructions, to destroy the devotional life. For the real presence of the Enemy, otherwise experienced by men in prayer and sacrament, we substitute a merely probable, remote, shadowy, and uncouth figure, one who spoke a strange language and died a long time ago. Such an object cannot in fact be worshipped, and instead produces the best kind of idolatry. Instead of the Creator adored by its creature, you soon have merely a leader acclaimed by a partisan, and finally a distinguished character approved by a judicious historian.
And lastly, we make men reduce the Enemy as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything. In your case, as a means to a better society. The thing to do is to get your man at first to value Social Justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce a desirable result, never realizing the Enemy he adores is a figment of his own imagination.

Reduce the Enemy as a means to and end and you’ve earned your man, and I assure you it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. You see the little rift? "Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason." That's the game.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screwtape

Next: Part IV



Social Justice & Screwtape II


My Dear Wormwood.

Now that you’ve decided on Social Justice as the course for your man the task is straightforward. Let him begin by treating Social Justice as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the cause, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favor of the Cause. Once you have made the Cause an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what else he’s involved in. Provided that meetings, blogs, policies, movements, causes, and articles matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more "religious" (on those terms) he becomes the more secure he is. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.

Stoke the fire of this as often as you can. We want to keep all Christians in a state of mind I call Christianity And. You know—Christianity and Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Racial Reconciliation. Substitute for the faith itself some fashion with a Christian coloring. This has the happy effect of quietly corrupting your man while removing the Enemy from His own religion. You may wonder if this is possible since His very name is on the title, but it is Wormwood, it is! Once you create a Jesus who approves of your man’s Cause his fleshly desires (and not the Enemy’s instructions) those desires become supreme. Encourage him to clear away the accretions and perversions of the historic faith and draw near to the Jesus he imagines. This should not be difficult since it’s the historic faith which is racist and at fault, after all.

This new Jesus has the ill effect of feeding his vanity in every circumstance. He can be taught to enjoy praying beside the orthodox on Sunday as he remembers that the conservative could not possibly understand the urbane and mocking world which he inhabited yesterday; and contrariwise, he can be taught to enjoy the sharp and cruel statements with his sophisticated friends all the more because he visits a world to which they cannot travel. You see the idea—the liberal friends touch him on one side and the conservative on the other, and he is the complete, balanced, complex man who sees round them all. Thus, while being permanently treacherous to at least two sets of people, he will feel, instead of shame, a continual undercurrent of self-satisfaction.

A little time spent signaling his identity to each group and it won’t be long until the man cannot bring himself to say anything which is not calculated to mock, grieve, puzzle, or humiliate the group he is not with. He will then cease to regard either group as a possible source of knowledge as the very idea of having modify his innermost thoughts or behavior is rejected as unutterably foolish. Further along he will cease to believe altogether, even as he confesses it with his mouth.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screwtape

Next: Part III


Social Justice & Screwtape I


My Dear Wormwood.

I note what you say about guiding your patient's reading and taking care that he spends a good deal of his time on twitter arguing with strangers. But are you not being a trifle naive? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy's clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier when humans knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning.

But no more. What the immediacy of the internet and other such weapons we have largely done away with the idea of argument as inquiry and replaced it with argument as cheerleading. Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to disregard actual reasoning in favor of emotions to be praised by others. He doesn't think of Christian doctrines as primarily true or false, but as academic or practical, outworn or contemporary, progress or regress. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him cowed. Make him think Social Justice is strong, or stark, or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That's the sort of thing he cares about.

Remember too that your man does not need to be a slave to the twitter platform—it is only the exclusivity which twitter provides that matters. Any small coterie, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a greenhouse of mutual admiration, and towards the outer world, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the cause is its sponsor and it is thought to be impersonal. The longer your man fights for the cause against the world the more extremist he will become.

And once he becomes a fanatic you will find him very willing to antagonize and look down on those who don’t share his views. He will quite naturally view them as hidebound and reactionary, and will view himself as virtuous. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbors whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know on the internet who share his views. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary. He will demand apologies on behalf of Native Americans who don’t care that a sports team is named after them; he will gladly agitate for reparations as a white bystander. Think of your man as a series of concentric circles, his will being the innermost, his intellect coming next, and finally his fantasy. You can hardly hope, at once, to exclude from all the circles everything that smells of the Enemy: but you must keep on shoving all the virtues outward till they are finally located in the circle of fantasy, and all the desirable qualities inward into the Will. It is only in so far as they reach the will and are there embodied in habits that the virtues are really fatal to us. (I don't, of course, mean what the patient mistakes for his will, the conscious fume and fret of resolutions and clenched teeth, but the real center, what the Enemy calls the Heart.) All sorts of virtues painted in the fantasy or approved by the intellect or even, in some measure, loved and admired, will not keep a man from our Father's house: indeed they may make him more amusing when he gets there.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screwtape

Next: Part II

Thursday, February 7, 2019

5 Point Social Justice Warrior (Continued)

The Mistake of the Mega Church

I spent almost a decade in a mega church (and left when it joined the Willow Creek association because that’s a bridge too far) and it was very good to me and mine. But there was always something that bothered me in the back of my mind that I couldn’t put my finger on. The music was good, the child programs were awesome, the ministers were great, the preaching was encouraging, and they never said anything I disagreed with—even when Pastor Derek was on rotation. The church was in the business of helping people get their finances in order, the local college students brought into community, the children taught their AWANA verses, and was especially in the business of worshipping loudly and warmly on Sunday morning. So what was I so uneasy about? It took me the better part of a decade to realize it wasn’t anything they were saying, it was what they weren’t saying. They weren’t preaching Christ and Him crucified. Oh they’d talk about the Scriptures sure, but they didn’t delve deeply into them. They didn’t totally submit to them, but instead pulled one or two verses out of context and talked about them on a Sunday. I learned after a long time that often it’s not what is being said that’s the problem, it’s what’s not being said. 

There’s No Christ There

This is the main problem I’ve seen with the Social Justice Warrior crowd: they never seem to be talking about Christ. I can’t recall a time I’ve heard them explain the need for Christ’s resurrection, or magnify His forgiving graces, and consequently it seems to me as though Christ is afterthought to their paradigm. Not that there’s no Bible mind you—there’s usually a quote from Amos about our need to do justice, or the command from Micah to walk humbly—but more often I see how anger and intolerance is a useful tool for societal reconstruction. The old timey talk of bleeding sacrifices and miserable sinners going on to heaven because their sins against a Holy God have been paid for is conspicuously absent, and that bothers me tremendously.

Now I recognize that this is an argument from silence, and that arguments from silence are rather weak things. But I stand by this as the most important critique that I can offer, and I believe this is the reason MacArthur may be right about the charge of liberalism. Liberalism turns you away from Christ by pressing the immediacy of the here-and-now over the there-and-then, and the SJW agenda turns your eyes toward the current problems and not the once-for-all solution of your misery offered by Christ. I don’t learn from the SJW that I have personally offended a holy God, that He sent His only son to bear the wrath due me, and that if I believe in Him I will be saved. And because I don’t hear that I suspect this is plain old liberalism. 

A Point of Clarification

Don’t hear me saying something I’m not. I’m not saying that everyone in the SJW movement has no faith or that the movement itself is nothing more than a wild herd of godless heathen rampaging across an otherwise acceptable society. Not a bit. I’m wise enough to know that personal preference is not the same thing as salvation, and that God is a very big God. A man may be an odious SJW who cruelly lashes out at people sympathetic to him may still be more securely saved than I. People in the Roman Catholic church can be saved, as can the people in the Churches of Christ, or the godless liberal mega churches, because faith like a mustard seed is all it takes, and a small faith is not the same as no faith.

Secondly, I’m not saying that the issues raised by the SJW crowd are not Biblical issues. Justice is absolutely a Biblical issue, and Christian’s who won’t practice it are in trouble with their God. As it is written, “If a man say, “I love God,” and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21). Building a more just society is a worthy goal, and those who through patient endurance bring it to pass are doing what is commendable. 

A Restatement

What I am saying is that the SJW movement has displaced Christ as the top priority in daily living. True Christianity first magnifies Christ, then builds its society. First we internalize the indicative then we obey the imperative. Social justice is at the periphery, not the center, of the Christian message. It’s not what Peter announced at the day of Pentecost. It’s not what Philip said to the Ethiopian official, nor what Paul said to the Philippian jailor. If we put something that belongs downstream from the cross in place of the fountainhead (the cross itself) then we will inevitably wind up with a Christless Christianity (read: liberalism).

What I’m saying is that the social justice movement looks like the modern American megachurch that has good commendable goals and completely ignores the beating heart of Christianity. Social Justice, like the megachurch has largely compromised with the world to win people, and like liberalism in every age is now finding out that Satan never keeps his end of the bargain. Before we do anything else we need to own the fact that Christianity is a stupid, foolish religion that says the almighty omnipotent God sent His Son to die for sinners because there was no way for them to earn God’s favor otherwise. It has a limited appeal and we need to accept that and own it. We need to keep our eyes on Christ first, last, and always if we’re going to make it out of here alive. 

What I'm saying is that I'm barely hanging on here, and need to be filled moment to moment with the truth of who Christ is and what He's done or I will be lost. I'm a leaky bucket. Insofar as I'm full of Christ I can do the things that justice requires of me toward society, but take Him away and I can do nothing but become furious that I haven't gotten my way.
Now, as I was thinking about how the social justice movement tends to push Christ to the periphery I remembered C.S. Lewis writing something about this in The Screwtape Letters. As it turns out, he wrote a lot about it, indeed it composes nearly the whole book. So I’ve taken the best quotes, dialed them in, and used them as the source for the next few posts. It says what I’ve said, but because it's Lewis it makes a great deal more sense.        

Next: Screwtape Letters On Social Justice Part 1


5 Point Social Justice Warrior

Some Up-Front, Honest Caveats

It is hard for me to write on social justice, mostly because I’m not a good writer. I’m slow, I sit at the screen staring at nothing for far too long, and I am not a wordsmith either by vocation or inclination. Strike one. I also use my blog as a scratch-pad to develop my ideas (and clarify my thinking), and as a result good writing is nothing more than an accidental byproduct of my panning for gold—strike two.
Strike three is that I’m getting wiser as I age, and wise people don’t feel the need to say everything they think. The more I observe the damaging second order effects from bad decisions the more I want to make no remark at all, which itself may be a bad decision. I was maximally impulsive as a Pelagian, attempted restraint as a Baptist, and am now among theological heavyweights that cause me to think I’d better not say anything at all so people don’t realize I’m out of my depth on pretty much everything.
Additionally, with each theological improvement I have undergone a change in values and thinking that has upgraded my ability to handle complex ideas and ability to draw Scriptural conclusions. When you’re in the small walled garden of Pelagianism the truth can be small and therefore comfortable, and so long as everyone else says the same things life is pleasant. But what I once thought was error (such as infant baptism) I have now come to see simply as my own childishness, and the things I once ridiculed I now value. Own a mistake or two and pretty soon you're leery of making a definitive value judgment that will later turn out to be wrong.

So for these reasons I’ve wanted to ignore the issue and pretend it’s a debate that’s not happening. On the other hand men I respect say this is a gospel issue, and more than anything I want to be faithful to Christ. That means it’s time to roll up my sleeves and deal with this nagging sense of unease the Social Justice Warrior (SJW) ideas makes me feel. Is it Biblical or am I merely a child in this arena? If it is Biblical, then how Biblical? That’s what I’m going to work out, and the place where I’m going to start is the claim that social justice is a re-tread of Liberalism. 

A Very Brief History of Theological Liberalism

In the early 1900s—for whatever reason—it was decided that miracles were stupid and nobody should believe in them (and no, don’t take that at face value, I actually do understand the Transcendentalism movement giving way to the Romantic notion of man as the rational creature etc. etc, I just don’t think the elimination of Christianity necessarily follows). Europeans decided in large numbers that supernaturalism was an evangelical hindrance that needed to be discarded rather than an essential component of the faith to be defended, and in response God sent a World War on them. Their tinkering hadn’t added sophistication to the Scriptures, it removed the heart out of it, for rather than create something that could win people to Christ the liberals had simply poured strychnine into the medicine and salted the ground. Their God was now a God without wrath, bringing men without sin, into a kingdom without judgment, by ministrations of Christ without a cross. Once they all agreed that Christianity must compromise it was all over, take as proof the beautiful empty cathedrals of Europe.

America weathered the collapse pretty well because we’re an industrious and happy people, not a brooding and intellectual one, so it wasn’t until Norman Vincent Peal championed a sunny and optimistic heresy about the power positive thinking that we bought into the great lie of liberalism en masse. Although liberalism wore a different skin for us, the substance was the same, for when Christians struck a compromise with the spirit of the age to win people over, the spirit of the age paid them back by emptying their churches. The mainline protestant churches that accepted the bargain have now nearly finished dying. Liberalism has a short half-life.
Skip ahead to the 1990s and Liberalism looks like Rick Warren lecturing us on how to have our best life now. Christianity is a God who’s cool with everything, a religion without sin (we call them slips or oopsies), a bloodless journey through magical rainbow clouds until our sanctuaries are peopled and we all have houses full of material wealth. Christ Himself is less a person who died to save us and more of a way to add value to our lives. There’s no need to meet with a bleeding savior, no discussion about how God had put on human flesh, there’s only seven tips for highly effective people to apply the latest psychology breakthroughs to their work sphere.

The next iteration was even emptier brand of moral therapeutic deism championed by Joel Osteen, and I don't think anything else needs to be said about that. Then came the openly blasphemous name-it-and-claim-it word-of-faith movement to pile on, and nothing more needs to be said about that being rank infidelity either. But the more interesting thing was the pushback against these seeker sensitive movements that demanded a more sacrificial commitment to faith called the Emergent Church. The Emergents were dedicated to authenticity, openness, and correcting the previous errors, but they had no interest in orthodoxy, and while it looked really strong and attractive on the surface their brand of Christianity wouldn’t last the decade. In the beginning Donald Miller and Rob Bell spoke out against dogmatic doctrines that straightjacketed true faith, and a young Barak Obama delighted America with his practical exposition of the beatitudes. Today none of them are Christian. Worse, I personally witnessed the apostasy first hand when God forced them to choose between orthodoxy and the emergent distinctives. For this I will never forgive Liberalism. 

Don’t conflate with Post-Millennialism

Liberalism insists that it is no more or less than progress, that as things go on we’re progressing and getting closer to the truth, thus making liberalism an inevitability. Our doctrine is getting better, our understanding of Scripture is getting sharper, and as time has gone on we’ve gotten better at stripping away the dross of our faith. And really, apart from the idea that liberalism is progress, the claim is true. God has been walking us forward into His kingdom, and He’s used a wide variety of ideas, cultures, and peoples to get us here. This is a good thing. Because of this diversity God’s glory is going to be sung by 13th century Hungarian peasants and 21st century Wall Street bankers together, each emphasizing a particular aspect of His greatness. It’s a coming to fruition of what He promised in Daniel when the rock that struck the feet of the statue grew until it filled the whole earth. So there’s no reason to be pessimistic or inherently biased against progress, as the Lord God superintends all that takes place.

But there is a good reason to be suspicious that that same seed of unbelief is hiding under the guise of progress, and there is absolutely every reason to think Liberalism is even now lurking among us; as it does in every age. With every new cultural trend comes the same commitment to watering down the faith, almost as if every time God sows a seed Satan is there to throw in weeds with it. It behoove us then to know what liberalism looks like.

Which Brings us to The Present Time

American popular culture views the world through the lens of two categories: Progress & Regress. Either we progress into a more compassionate, hopeful, or tolerant society, or we stand against it and attempt to turn the clock back to a more unjust age. We used to keep slaves, then we abused people with slavish working conditions, then we began to treat them humanely by calling for an end to sweatshops. First we learned to love foreigners, then we learned to love divorced people, then homosexuals, then everyone. The arc of history bends toward justice and all that. The social justice movement, or the Woke movement, or however you want to call it, is driven by this Progress/Regress model that I’m convinced is itself a corruption of Biblical post-millennialism. And according to John MacArthur this is the same liberalism in a new mask, putting its head up for another go-round; the same plague that wiped out huge swathes of Christianity from before. It’s the original lie. It’s the serpent’s smooth words, “You shall be improved by this act of disobedience.” It’s the Sadducees wanting to compromise with the Greeks and Romans and succeeding at taking total control of the Temple. But Jesus rebuked them with the words “You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”

Now, that took a long time to say very little, but I believe I’m ready to build on that foundation and make some real forward progress in the next post.


Credo vs Paedo Baptism: Pushback Part I

If you've been following this series you may have noticed my two Pastors commenting on my work.  Phil it might help those of us who fi...