26 June 2010

I Remember... (A quick reflection and a note regarding the Sacralist reading of Tolkien)

updated July 2012 

I remember:

-Defending Calvin's role in the execution of Servetus
When in reality it was Sacralist murder

-Defending Augustine when he called upon the Roman government to 'compel' the Donatists
When in reality he was abandoning his own theology in the City of God

-Laughing when the Reformers ironically 'drowned' the Anabaptist dissenters
When in reality they were acting in the role of Antichrist at those moments

-Trying to defend America as a nation founded on Christianity
When in reality it was the first country in the western tradition to specifically not be founded on Christianity.......and now, I would say that it was a good thing, something to be thankful for.

-Walking around Budapest, seeing Unitarian Churches and thinking...if they had only had a strong Protestant Prince, they could have eliminated this heresy.
When in reality, a Protestant prince erecting a Sacralist state is more dangerous to the True Gospel and the faithful church than a handful of Unitarians running around.

-Arguing for the 'In God We Trust' motto on the coinage and for the inclusion of 'under God' in the pledge of allegiance.
When in reality, we as Christians should demand the state remove God's name from the coins, and no Christian has any business pledging allegiance to piece of cloth....

-Treating the flag as sacred
When in reality most Americans, and especially Christians have turned it into an idol.

-Defending Capitalism as if it were one of the planks of Biblical Orthodoxy
When in reality, much of Capitalism is at odds with Biblical Christianity. No economic system will really work in a fallen world. Our Christian economic is to love our neighbours as ourselves...and as far as a national economic policy, it doesn't really matter if we live in a Capitalistic, Socialistic, Anarchist or Communist system.

I remember when I was a Sacralist and traded the Kingdom of God, for the enticing power offered by the world.

A little aside.......For those familiar with Tolkien, he has a lot of Sacralist elements in the Lord of the Rings. Who can't recognize romanticized Merry OldeEngland in his depiction of the Shire? Who can't recognize something of a Charlemagne-Holy Roman Empire imagery in Aragorn and the renewed kingdom of Gondor? Or Byzantium in peril in Gondor during the Third Age?

Certainly you have medieval notions of Chivalry, relics, holy swords...a little Marian imagery with Arwen and Galadriel. All those things are there, and are things in history I do not appreciate.

But where Tolkien is spot on is with his understanding of power. The Ring wasn't symbolic of The Bomb or anything like that. It's the corruption of Power. Gollum is a powerful character in exhibiting fallen man's lust for it.

The character I often think of when I listen to Theonomists wax eloquent about the Triumphant Millennium and the Full Integrated Sacralism they envision...is Boromir. The Council kept trying to tell him....you can't use it! Good will be turned to evil. That's the equation....fallen man + power = an evil kingdom.

If there's anything 'biblical' in Tolkien, it is certainly that. We don't want a kingdom...ours is in heaven. Our power is in Christ...our hope is in him.

Like I've said somewhere else.......when I discovered the doctrines of Grace it was like getting a new Bible....when I discovered the dialectic in Scripture and was rescued from hyper-calvinism, it was like getting a new Bible again...and then when I finally was delivered from Sacralist thinking concerning history, state, and culture....I feel like I've come home.

But it is lonely outside the camp.

In many ways it feels like we're in the Middle Ages again.


Al Shaw said...

One of the other interesting features of Tolkein's worldview is the assumption that significant things happen through weak and insignificant people (Hobbits). I guess this is a practical outworking of his rejection of traditional mechanisms of power.

Protoprotestant said...

That's right! For a Roman Catholic he was quite insightful about certain things.

There's a lot of little gems in Tolkien's book. I read them over and over again as a kid...and they deeply affected me.

My biggest critique would be the way evil (with exception of Saruman) is portrayed as blatantly evil while in real life it's often more subtle and confusing.

It's like I tell my kids...it would be a lot easier if the bad guys would all wear black and look like orcs...and the good guys would wear white.

Not to downplay the antithesis between good and evil, but well, I assume you know what I mean...

I remember driving through Kidderminster because of Richard Baxter and while driving through that whole Wyre Forest area...I was thinking of Tolkien as well as the Welsh March and the Lollards...well, and quite a bit more of British history as well.

I did pass through Bristol...on the way to Devon and Cornwall...

Do you have a church there in Bristol? That's where you're at isn't it? My only church experiences in the UK were some chapels out in East Anglia and the Free Church in Scotland.

Now I find with some of the Calvinists in the UK a sort of sad longing for the days of the British Empire. It was good thing, they want it back....

But with the Chapel folks I encountered they were Labour voters who didn't think in terms of a Christian Britain. What are your thoughts on that? I mean as far as other Christians in the UK? I'm pretty sure you don't see the British Empire as a glorious thing...(smile)

But has either a longing for the past...or the American Politicized Christianity gained a foothold in the Chapel/non-conformist heritage?

Now in the United States....well, you probably know something of how bad it is.

I also remember attending a Thursday night chapel service in Suffolk and they have a very hard time getting preachers....and I was astounded to walk in and hear a tape being played of some guy from Mississippi!

Thanks for the comments. Glad to know you like Tolkien as well....

Cal said...

I have to say I understand your last sentiment. When I understood Christ as the Truth, the Key to understanding all Scripture, it was like opening a new Bible. I have to keep relearning this lesson as I am a stupid man, and I forget.

As for Tolkein, I do appreciate that he nails it on the concept of "power" in the ring. I think he's even more perceptive. Aragon may be noble and he may harken to the HRE/Byzantium with Gondor, but even he cannot hold the ring. It is little Frodo who is barely able to cope with it.

The funny thing with Tolkein is even with his anglo-catholic sensibilities would offend most theonomists. They want a British Empire, or a Holy Roman Empire not a return to dinky and pathetic Merry England. Gondor falls in ruin and has its day, the Shire is a pristine image of what is good in Middle Earth.

As for the the Marian sensibilities: it reminds me last time I watched the films. It was with some friends, one who was zealous (and RC) to think about the imagery employed. He first made a connection to Aragon as a "Christ the King" figure and I could see it somewhat as plausible. Then he said that Arwynn was a symbol of Mary and I struck a grimace.

Poor Mary, she is blessed as the Theotokos but her curse is to have such bizarre and sometimes blasphemous titles/images attached to her. What a shame.