Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How Contemporary Evangelical Worldview Hastened Defeat in Culture War

For awhile, evangelicals have protested binary thinking and expected nuance.  No one tries that with gravity, because of the short term disadvantage, which is a dismount in the crunch position.  Truth, goodness, and beauty operate like gravity because they proceed from the same source:  God.   The passengers of Germanwings Flight 9525 last week recognized the absolute authority of gravity and its absence of nuance.  Just because many other truths and goodness and beauty don't bring the same quick and emphatic authentication, but consummate at a more glacial pace, does not oblige them an incongruent end.  Living by and, therefore, pleasing God, by faith, necessitates behaving as though deeds met by immediate, tangible confirmation equal those awaiting only heavenly reward.

With foresight of future Supreme Court authorization of same-gender marriage and ensuing lawsuits and their resultant ravaged businesses and incomes, evangelicals pressure lawmakers to pass religious liberty legislation.   But how did we get here?   We draw the line at impeding the anticipated suffering.  If we keep regressing to the initial cause of all this, we can trace it to earlier evangelical capitulation.  When this decision was a principle, evangelicals kicked the can down the road.  There were not short term benefits to standing for truth, goodness, and beauty when it was only principle, when it was only about pleasing God.  Now we are where we are, and it doesn't look that sincere.

What you read on a regular basis right now is exemplified by what we heard from Indiana's Governor Pence, as quoted in the Indianapolis Star today:

Pence answered: "I don't support discrimination against anyone." 
He later added, "No one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love or what they believe."

He said, "Who they love."  Maybe Governor Pence was playing some kind of Clintonian game with the antecedents of who and they, although "no one" is fairly universal, unless he was using the mental air quotes with a different definition of "no one" than "no one."  We know who he means by "who" and "they."  By mistreatment, does he mean, "Sorry, but we won't be doing the flower arrangements for your 'wedding'?"  Air quotes again.

"Love" is in fact a biblical concept.  The Greek word agape, translated "love" in the New Testament, wasn't found much in secular literature, and as it appears in the Bible, it is a unique word.  It spread from the Bible to the culture and then began, like so much vocabulary, to be twisted like salt water taffy.  To love God, it has to be love.  So when we call something love, that isn't love, then love is diminished, and finally God isn't loved.

Evangelicals started twisting love in their own churches with their perverted forms of worship.  A few posts ago, I mentioned the Gettys and singing to God like Marilyn Monroe did to John F. Kennedy on his birthday.  That singing is supposed to be affection.  The feeling contrived by a rock beat is suddenly the Holy Spirit working and adoration being given.   At first it isn't.  Then it is questioned.  Then it is.  And finally when you say it isn't, you're in trouble.  So when two men say they love each other, who are evangelicals to question it?  They've already been offering God something they call love that isn't love.  Same-gender couples don't have a corner on inordinate affection they call love.

When I say contemporary evangelical worldview, I'm talking about the concession to the subjective and uncertainty. Gravity and love were both on the same plane to the premoderns.  Moderns saw they could explain it all with a machine.  The idea was that God isn't better than the machine.  Why should we thank Him? But, as I wrote on Monday, that made morality and art and aesthetics meaningless, so a game was invented, called postmodernism, where someone imagines that his truth or his beauty is a fact.  It's a fact to him.  It's love to them.

This is where we're at today.  Some see the emperor with no clothes, so they leave Chicago and Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin or Nirvana on the playlist of their listening device, while they limit themselves to How Firm a Foundation at church.  They make a pact with the emperor, a type of spiritual detente, as a church Jekyll to a home Hyde.  What you allow is what you become and then who you are.  It really is you already, but now you've just proved it.

You can point a finger at the liberals, at the Democrats, or the President, or Congress, but it really is you, evangelical.  If you are not the cause, then you have at least hastened the defeat in the culture war.  You waved the white flag.  Passing legislation, or even keeping it just like it is, isn't a victory. You need to turn back to the truth, to goodness, and to beauty.  Turn back to the one God of the Bible.  If all that's left is truth that saves, it isn't truth that saves.  The truth that saves is part of all the other truth, that is certain.

Evangelicals already opted out, and fundamentalists are joining them.

If you act like you didn't read this, or you do read it, but deny it, so that you won't be responsible for it, or just call names, it's still true, whether you read it, decide to keep paying attention to it, or even believe it.  You dismiss it at your own peril.


Anonymous said...

You are so right!

Farmer Brown said...

"Living by and, therefore, pleasing God, by faith, necessitates behaving as though deeds not met by immediate, tangible confirmation equal those awaiting only heavenly reward."

Would you explain this a little more? It seems like the "not" should not be there, as in "deeds for which you receive no earthly reward are as valuable as deeds that have immediate reward."

The not makes it say "deeds without tangible reward equals deeds without tangible reward." Am I missing something here?

You are right on in the analysis. The entire "there are good men on both sides" mentality, as though we cannot know truth, opens the door for anything.

Kent Brandenburg said...

It was an error, Farmer. I took out the not.