Sunday, January 29, 2017

Against a Compassionate State

There are three great institutions in the world that God has put here for our good: The Family, the State and the Church.  They each have their job in the world, and when confined to their job, make the world less than the hellhole it ought to be.  But two of these, the family and the state, can only restrain evil, they can’t overcome it.  The family does this through discipline and teaching and basically instilling Proverbs into their life together to form “good” people.  The state does this by threatening the sword against those inside that step outside the law inside the state and protecting against those outside the state. 
That is over simplified, but it is generally true.  What neither of these two institutions can do is save you.  They can’t overcome your sin and remake you in the mold of Christ your Savior.  The best they do is keep you from being as bad as you can be. 
The Church on the other hand can save you and remake you and make you better than you are.  The reason it can is because Christ lives in Her.  She is His New Creation, His body and His Temple Building.  This is the place where all His accomplished work is applied to believers and the world.  He has promised to use His Church to bring His Compassion and Work to the world.  He has made no Promise like that for the state.
The State isn’t built for compassion, because that isn’t how God spreads it abroad in the world.  It can try, and, all things being equal, I would like to live in one that tries than one that doesn’t, but it is bad at it.  I read one post today about how compassionate the government workers were, but then said that the poster had heard that things had improved since computers had been brought in to help.  How bad are you at compassioning, that a computer actually improves your human compassion? 
So many are confusing the job of Christians as voters with Christians as soldiers of the Church.  One article even goes so far as to proclaim the failure of American Christianity because they voted for Trump, and Trump isn’t a compassionate guy.  (It ignores, needless to say because we have already forgotten it, was that the option given to Christians was a guy that was apathetic towards the church against a person who had shown every indication of being hostile to it.  I don’t say this to justify their vote, I voted for neither because both were grossly unqualified to head a government, but to remind you of the choice).  The church hasn’t failed, there are 100’s of millions of dollars spent by the Church in areas that have intense human suffering.  The lack of Christian help in Syria, it should be remembered, is because a large portion of the Christian populations, missionaries and indigenous, have been slaughtered.  But there are still Christians that want to and try to go there to help.  That is their job, and the Church is the only entity that can actually accomplish what needs to be done. 
The Government can only bring the sword into play; it is its only tool.  While it is great for certain jobs, it isn’t suited cutting bread and saving souls.  All of the compassion that governments can bring to these people is to either bring them under its own sword here at home, or destroy their enemies abroad.  While these can be good things, they aren’t compassion, and are poor counterfeits for it. 
If you think that we as Christians have failed is because the government acts in basically the same way without nice words, you are wrong.  The Church is still at work.  And for those that I know that are now criticizing the Church for its votes, while not being part of the Church; if you criticize Christians that promote biblical morality in their churches, for not forcing others to recognize it through government action, while condemning those same people for trying to do the on a different moral question, I don’t want to hear your critiques, and you shouldn’t make them.  That goes doubly if you ignore clear teaching of the scriptures in your own life while foisting your idea of what the Bible esoterically teaches (or not) on the Church.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Millennials and Church

There have been a spate of articles telling us why Millennials are leaving the church that have gone around lately, I just read two of them, and I want to write about why I think they are leaving the church.  Some of what I say will overlap, but a good portion is a perspective that I haven’t read, or even seen thought about. 

The problem is generational.  That doesn’t mean what you might think; I’m not talking about a generation gap, or the shiftiness of “cool”.  What I mean is that for a century and a quarter we have been allowing each generation define what is important about church.
In the 1970’s Evangelicals made a choice to come together as a super-denomination, and call themselves non-denominational.  As part of this coming together we jettisoned a large amount of historic Christian theology.  Why?  Well because you have trouble when educated Presbyterians and educated Baptists come to the church together.   What they offered instead was the “experience of Christ”.  And this was a success, as a good portion of changes are, for the first generation.  They were actually able to have a fuller Christian life I might even admit.  But it was because they had both things: Theology (which they knew but generally ignored) and Experience.

When they had children, my generation, we were raised on “Experience of Christ” with little or no theology.  Our church was the youth group.  We were carefully put in an experienced based situation instead of church, where all the boring stuff happened.  And as we grew up there, we made great friends and hung out a lot.  My generation suffered the beginning of the cultural disintegration that began after the Cold War, and so we found solace in our youth groups.  So when we came to define church, since we didn’t have theology to bind us, we reject our parent’s definition of church based on individual experience and went for a “communal experience of Christ”.  

All of us Gen X’ers should remember how the church changed for us.   Our parents looked at church as a place to go for teaching and feeding, assuming that they could still learn from the Word, because they had a foundation of theology and an understanding that there was something special in the preached word by a called servant.  But for us, we were there for the communal experience.  We came together as a group to experience something at the same time, something that would define us.  So it had to be an experience, loud, well scripted, impactful and special.  So we made church based on preferred experience.  Anyone over 35, think back, there is a good chance you can remember this sea change.

So the good churches got very good at this “communal experience”.  And they were able to put on a good show every week.  But what drove us together, the fracturing culture, drives them elsewhere.  We needed church as a touchstone, but they don’t, they have their groups outside of church, in the world.  For any little interest, there is a group you can find on reddit.  You don’t need church for the communal experience. What you want is an “authentic experience”.  Church that is slick doesn’t work, because they see things slicker than church every time they grab their phone.  Community doesn’t work because they have a more specific one on the computer.   What do they need the church for?  According to them, they need it for authenticity.  Ask what that means and they have no idea, but it’s what they want.

Authenticity is defined negatively most of the time, here is a stab at it from an article running around:
What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.
We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.
We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.
We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.
We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.
You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.
Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus. (Rachel Held Evans “WhyMillennials are Leaving the Church”)

My favorite one, in a list of everything Millennials are against is “We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against”, but that is logic, not authenticity. The one that make me want to stab my eyes is “we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there”.  What do these all have in common?  They are cultural hot buttons.  Our parents organized church around the Christian Experience, we organized it around a Communal Experience, and our children want a Cultural experience.  

Does the Church teach about holy lives outside of sex?  Every church I’ve been to has.  But the culture attacks the church as sexually repressive and obsessed, so our children believe it is true.

What about welcoming the LGBT?  Well sure come on in, but recognize that you are a sinner and you seem intent on defining yourself by your sin.  Much in the same way as if a man cheating on his wife required you welcome him to church and required that you look at his infidelity and then if you mentioned the 7th commandment or any of the prophets screamed that you hated him.  The Bible is clear here, is there love for sinners?  Yes, but for penitent sinners.

Most of the list would be fixed if a Millennial read a single systematic theology.  But they would still run, because the culture is their theology and their experience.  Want to stop a Millennial exodus?  Teach them that there is a reason for what we do, and give them something to stand up to culture with.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

We Use Laws...

or "Why I'm Not a Libertarian." Wow this got long, sorry! I have read Libertarian theory, I have read Libertarian economics, I have talked with Libertarians. I like the idea of Libertarianism, and for the most part it is very attractive to me. But there is a great amount of disconnect between the theory of Libertarianism and the people that would live under it. First of all, most of those who call themselves libertarian, and can get past the drug haze to define it when asked, are good people. More than that, they are people with strong principles, and, often, well thought out views on ethics and morality. Giving them freedom would be great, because they are self-regulated people that do what they want anyway. But the world isn’t made up of a majority of self-regulators, no matter how much Libertarians might extrapolate from themselves. Most people in the world are sheep, and they need direction. They have limited thoughts on morality, they can’t define right or wrong cogently in a given situation, and they are often confused. (And this isn’t elitism, I am a sheeple, I require and seek advice on almost everything from authority structures all around me. In no way take me as saying that I and a few like me are better than all of the Many Too Many. I admire the Libertarians that make their own ethics, knowing full well that I won’t and that I am far more like the rest of humanity than they are). Most people require short-cuts to help them find right and wrong, they don’t have time to research every option available to them to make a completely rational decision about what is right. The two biggest short-cuts available to people at large are their Law and their Culture. So most people have a broad and indistinct idea of right and wrong that doesn’t come from themselves and this is what they use to muddle their way through their life. And it works for them because they are busy doing something else with their lives. (This brings up another observation, most of the hard-core libertarians I am acquainted with where students, academics or housewives. Nothing wrong with them, I have been one, would like to be another and am precluded by my ethics from becoming the third, but they all have more time on their hands for the research a true Libertarian life requires). So they rely on the framework of Law and Culture to make quick decisions that they don’t have time to look deeply into. But Law and Culture tend to be inversely proportional, the more inclusive and strong the Culture, the fewer Laws are needed, the less inclusive and week the Culture, the more Laws that are needed. (Where the balance is, and when the laws become too numerous and invasive, that they become immoral is a discussion for a book not a post. I agree we are well past the line of necessary laws and are now into superfluous legislation. I don’t have space to talk about this subject). What has happened in the most populous places in America for the last 50 years has been an active attempt to undermine an inclusive American culture and build up niche cultures. This has made the need for new laws where culture once was sufficient. (The drug laws are a great example of this. As youth and youth culture have been strengthened since the ’60’s the external pressure on young idiots to listen to the wisdom of their elders has almost disappeared. One of the things that young people like is getting high, and so more and more the youth have assumed the normalcy and benignity of drug use. They also have no reason to listen to their elders’ advice, and so dangerous behavior becomes encouraged, not stigmatized. As an example of this: I teach at a very conservative Christian school, and the fact that I smoke tobacco and drink alcohol is more controversial than the fact that some of them smoke pot). Culture is far better for these types of things, because it can be persuasive, rather than coercive (can be but often times isn’t) whereas government must be coercive by its nature. Be that as it may, where persuasion fails, coercion must be brought in, particularly when a sub-culture is perpetrating something the larger culture finds dangerous, but has been able to persuade the weakest from migrating to that behavior. I agree with Libertarians, that this is a failure, but it is a failure of humanity, not the systems, and the Law and Culture are there to try and ameliorate the crookedness of human timber. (Oops, I’m a Christian and I think Romans 13 and 1Timothy 2 prove that strong and coercive government is legitimate). So finally the conclusion, I think the Law is important and necessary in human society. Most men are governed by outside forces, and a coercive government is legitimate in this. As a conservative, I like that government small at the federal level, and more specific as you get more and more local, but humanity needs government.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Christian Apologist’s Dilemma

 Science is a Christian pursuit.  That is the truth of it, and the whole truth of it.  There is no other world view that would allow for it to exist.  The earliest scientists were Christians.  The most influential scientists up to the 20th century were Christians.  And even now Christians desire to be scientists, and reject the secularist idea of science being anti-theistic. 

But Christians now must fight against Science, and here is the dilemma, must do so while upholding the validity of science.  We must because when science is seen in the right light, it gives us as much truth as humanity can gain (not very much by the way), and it is a great tool that we Christians can use. 

Thus we are hamstrung in ways that our opponents aren’t.  They have no use for Christianity, and to them, it is a lie that no one should even consider.  And so they get to pull out all the stops.  There is no argument off limits be they logical, philosophical or personal.  They get to use them against us and open up with both barrels. 

This is the reason that in almost all arguments, Christians seem over matched.  We need to affirm what is true about what our opponents believe and then try to attack it at the same time.  This leads to our usually timidity in the arguments.  And it leads to the dilemma that we always meet in these fights, and our wishy-washy-ness.  “It is true, but not true enough!”, we protest, making us sound weak.

So I propose we start looking at things from a holistic stance.  Here it is: If we argue against the irrational, we attack their irrationality as fiercely as they attack the Rational God.  If they are rationalists, we attack them as fiercely as they attack the incomprehensibility of God.  If they are Scientists we attack science, and we attack it like it isn’t true, like they attack our intangible God.  If they are spiritualist, we attack their disembodied Gnosticism the same way they attack the Physical Jesus.

We do this because what they believe isn’t true, that is the trick.  Science is only true when it is brought into the right relationship with the Bible.  When it is outside that right relationship, it is a lie and smells of fire and brimstone.  So solve the dilemma, by denying that they have anything of worth to say.  Because they don’t.

Friday, July 08, 2011


Here is me being a bit angry.

I just listened to a podcast in which a supposed "very smart" man spouted on for 45 minutes about elections and how people get elected. His basic thesis was that he had figured out how to elect people and no one else could understand it, and that way is to not be conservative in any real fashion, just be a RINO and you'll do fine. That was stupid and asinine and hard to listen to, but what really got my dander up was how he finished his screed. Basically he said that while he is a conservative, he is embarrassed by conservatives because they are anti-intellectual and rubes. His example: he has been in rooms where he, as a Darwinist, was in the minority and felt "uncomfortable" being there. Presumably the discomfort was came from the fact that he was smart, knew the truth but the idiots around him would lynch him and all his associates if they knew he ascribed to evolution.

Now put aside the fact the worst he would have got was looks and shrugs from most of those there, and perhaps an explanation of creationism from the most zealous. The thing that has got me riled up, is that this man sat there for ¾ of an hour and spouted, uncritically, the conventional wisdom of “the smart class” verbatim. He gave me 45 minutes of proof of his arrogance and offered up as reason for his arrogance that he thinks the same way as all the good folk.

What he is, in reality, is a smart man that has yet to show me he can think at all. I will put my arguments against anything science tells us up against his reasons for believing Darwin any time. Those reasons I suspect will boil down to this: at some time in the past someone he respected as smart made fun of creationists and so he decided evolution was the way to go. That is not smart, intellectual or even respectable, it is a sad man that is shaped by the fear of someone laughing at him. For this twit to make fun me and others like me for being dumb and anti-intellectual is beyond idiotic.

So for him and all those out there, particularly any students in college that might read this, I give you a definition of smart: Despite what everyone will say, smart is not having a set of predetermined, acceptable beliefs that others approve of, that is programming. Smart is having beliefs that you hold deeply, based on your own research and work, and that will transcend the varying fashions of the echo chambers that decide the acceptable beliefs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

There is No Gay 2+2=4

One of the things that bothers me so much about the naked social engineering of the left it their blatant, Marxist skewing of history. We are told for example that before the 60’s women were poor miserable creatures in abject subjugation, only able to have freedom when their oppressors were passed out drunk after having beaten them and the poor children. That what we think of as a loving familial relationship today only existed in subversive households that fought against the norm.

The norm, of course, must've been horrible, most men cared nothing for their wives, other than considering them servants that they could have babies with legally and with social acceptance. Any literature or movies or works of art or anything historical that challenged this, the portrayed pre-60s life much like the life that married people live now was adopted and redefined as subversive and proto-feminist. And what we have now is almost new men and new women, whose relationships bear no resemblance to the relationships that existed before third wave feminism.

The reality of course is that nothing much has really changed inside marriage. You have to believe that men and women are completely different. That before feminism women couldn't make their husbands miserable, that they had no power in the relationship, and that all men were happy to dehumanize and objectify their wives and children. In fact you have to believe that human nature is clearly different now and changed almost overnight when the "Feminist Mystique" was written.

This is all horse hockey, human nature hasn't changed; men have always been drawn to love their wives and society has always looked down on husbands that don't. Women have always had power, albeit hidden, over their men, even the Old Testament knew this: “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman (Proverbs 21:19)”. Nothing has really changed, we just became arrogant, "chronologically arrogant" as C.S. Lewis called it, the idea that everyone that lived in a different time or situation than we do now must have been miserable and had no real chance at happiness. Pure stupidity!

What has happened is that the 60s asinine belief that public life and private life must contain no dissimilarities or contradictions if there are, then there is self-evident hypocrisy. After this the 90s and their attempt to police thought enforce that all public opinions are the correct opinions by manipulating language and we end up in this idiotic social situation that we have today. Everything private must be open to the public, and we must all express the limited range of correct feelings about it.

We believe that all groups that claim to be oppressed were always treated horribly in all situations and never had any sort of a normal life. The fact that maybe they had to hide their abnormality from the world in public meant that they were psychologically damaged. Or that someone might have made fun of them means that they never had a chance for happiness. The fact that some very funny things might've been said against their particular group meant that they can never have had friends. So all of these things must be regulated and stamped out and all unrelated things must be collapsed into this defining characteristic.

Before the 60s there were gays, before the 60s people knew there were gays, before the 60s people knew other people who were gay and were fine with it. They understood that there were public things and private things, and it is possible to do a very wide range of public things that were unrelated to the societal abnormality. You could have a job as an accountant and be gay, those were separate things. You could be a good driver and be gay, those were separate things.

Now however, they are all the same thing. Those with societal abnormalities (and we all have societal abnormalities) now wrap all of their lives around that abnormality. It used to be that an accountant was an accountant, and at home or outside of work you could be gay, hetero, metro, swinger or whatever. But now because we have no public/private divide, what you are at work is what you are at home and vice-versa (and your bosses know it and, so,invade deeper and deeper into your non-work time). So you used to be Jim the Accountant that worked in cubicle 8G. Now you are, and we are required to think of you as, Gay Jim the Gay Accountant that works in the gay cubicle 8G. Now I am Frank that works in cubicle 9G, and I am ambivalent about whom you have sex with. Use to be that was ok, but now I must think the right thoughts about you and they all have to be focused on your sexuality. I can’t say, “Good job on the TPS reports Jim.” It has to be, “Good gay job on the gay TPS reports Gay Jim (and that is great, gay means you’re edgier, and classier and richer and in all ways better than me. Gosh I wish I had enough money not spent on my kids to buy your expensive hair product).” But you want to know the difference between a gay TPS report and a non-gay TPS report? What about a gay job on them and just a job on them? Nothing, absolutely no fricking thing at all! What should be the difference between Jim and Gay Jim at the accounting office? Nothing!

And so here is the point: I am sick and tired of being told that I have to care about something that shouldn’t affect me at all, I don’t care really if you are gay or black or oriental or red-neck or green. What does make me want to strangle cats is you telling me I have to care about your abnormality, and I have to care in the right way in our societies Orwellian language. So here is the deal you act like you belong in society when you are in society and I won’t give a crap about how you are in private.

Monday, October 19, 2009


"John Podhoretz once remarked that all conservatives are bilingual: We speak both conservative and liberal. Liberals are monolingual, because they can afford to be."

Just a quick note on this comment. I have been thinking out the language of politics for a while now (in fact I want to write and article on it someday) and one of the things that i have noticed is that conservatives always fight an uphill battle. Because we are a bit more realistic about the world and we believe that there are different solutions to the same problem that will work better for different people, we can't offer simple universal answers. So the liberal gets to say, "free health-care for all," and it sounds great. So great in fact that no argument is needed. they do this in all areas political. A job for every one. Perfect racial ratios in all jobs. Middle class lifestyles no matter how hard you work etc. etc.

The conservative now has a rhetorical hole. Before he can argue that any of these are infeasible or explain how they might lead to the exact opposite of what is promised, he has to explain why he thinks it is bad to cover children who are dying of ingrown toenails because their parents don't have a good enough job. Who can dig themselves out of that hole?

That is what the above quote means, when conservative hear the promises made by the liberal, he is able to translate them into tax increases, loss of freedom and governmental meddling in private life. When the liberal hears the conservative's response on the other hand he only hears how much the conservative hates the down-trodden. Who bears the weight of this responsibility? The Media who has coarsened discourse and stripped the political language of the compassion of non-governing.