04 August 2010

Horns like a lamb with the voice of a dragon....

He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon...Revelation 13.11

I heard this Chuck Colson Breakpoint commentary the other day ......
My comments are interspersed....



Colson:

Although Western cultural elites deny it, non-Westerners know full well that the key to the West's success over the centuries is Christianity.

When you hear the word “globalization,” you probably think of Chinese factories or customer service centers in India. What you probably don’t think about is Christianity. Yet globalization and Christianity are linked in ways you may never have imagined.
Globalization is about more than markets and technology. It’s also about the spread across national boundaries of ideas and values—in other words, culture. While the spread and exchange of culture flow in many different directions, the ideas and values most associated with globalization are those of the West.


Protoprotestant:

Chuck Colson defines Christianity not in Biblical categories, but in terms of Sacralism. For him it's all about culture and civilization.

Colson:

And this is where Christianity comes in. In his marvelous book, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, Rodney Stark writes that “Christianity created Western Civilization.” Without Christianity’s commitment to “reason, progress, and moral equality, today the entire world would be about where non-European societies were in, say, 1800.”


Protoprotestant:

Stark is not a historian. He is a propagandist. Of course the Sacralists praise his work. I interact with a review of his book on the crusades here.

Stark's statement here is outrageous. I guess we're going to ignore the whole history of Colonialism.

Colson:

This would be a world “with many astrologers and alchemists but no scientists. A world of despots, lacking universities, banks, factories, eyeglasses, chimneys, and pianos.” The “modern world,” to which globalization aspires, “arose only in Christian societies. Not in Islam. Not in Asia. Not in a ‘secular’ society—there having been none.”


Protoprotestant:

This is the same kind of argument he makes in his fantasy book on the Crusades. He's just going to make outrageous statements and assume the reader is too stupid to know the difference. Certainly the West became the technological juggernaut in the 19th and 20th centuries. But look at a map in 1900, and take note who rules the world. You'll find Western powers controlled just about everything, or had in the recent past. Perhaps we should talk about some of the 'christian' impulses which led to world military and economic conquest? I'm not saying we have to defend other cultures, but I'm not saying we have to trumpet western culture either. We can try and look at the whole picture and have a discussion. Stark and Colson have zero interest in truth. For them everything is an agenda.

Colson:

Needless to say, Stark’s conclusions aren’t popular with academics and other intellectuals and have been savaged by liberal reviewers. These folks are all too happy to blame Christianity for some of the darker episodes in Western history, but they’re not about to give the faith credit for the Western success.


Protoprotestant:

Liberal. Sad when liberals are more interested in truth than conservative Christians. Look at the 1-star reviews of Stark's book at Amazon. You'll find lots of 'christians' in the 5-star category. This is my point exactly. The pagans have more interest in learning what really happened than Sacralists do.

Giving faith credit for Western success? How does God's Kingdom define success? Or are we talking about another kingdom?

Colson:

No matter. Non-Westerners see the connection. For example, Chinese scholars were asked to “look into what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world.” After considering possible military, economic, political and cultural explanations, they concluded that the answer lay in what the Chinese scholars saw as the “heart” of the West’s pre-eminent culture: Christianity.

Protoprotestant:

Sacralism not Christianity. They're not interested in a gospel of a suffering saviour, there interested in tools of power, just like Chuck Colson.

Colson:

These non-Christian and non-Western scholars had “no doubt” that “the Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and the successful transition to democratic politics.”

Protoprotestant:

Pity that neither capitalism or democracy seem to be great concerns in the New Testament. I'm not saying they're all bad, but the statement here says more about Chuck Colson and his notions of Christianity.

Colson:

Apparently, many of their countrymen agree. Whereas there were approximately 2 million Christians in China when Mao came to power in 1949, today there are upwards of 100 million. What’s more, Christianity is especially popular among the “best-educated” and most modern Chinese.


Protoprotestant:

I see this time and again when I look into Christianity in Asia. It saddens me. There is much good that is happening, but also a lot of really bad things. I've been following it for years and though the numbers are impressive, I tremble. I see a lot of syncretism, and a lot of confusion between Christianity and Westernism. Colson celebrates this. I lament it, because the churches there will suffer from the fallout for many generations and before long, if not already, we will find that just like here, we have to get them unsaved to get them saved. I blame Sacralism for this.

Colson:

Why? Because like people everywhere, except, ironically, in the West, they see Christianity as “intrinsic to becoming modern.” For them, Christianity is an alternative to a way of life that bred misery and oppression. They understand Christianity’s role in the rise of the West, even as Western elites deny the connection.

Protoprotestant:

Prosperity gospel? It's okay there I guess? Is that what he's saying? Sadly he's correct, except it's not Christianity.

For others I have no doubt if they look into history and see the legacy of Western power, sure they want to emulate it, but I don't think Colson would like what they do with it. They probably don't want to see the power go to Colson's idol, America.

Unfortunately rather than spread the gospel Western powers often brought their fair share of misery. Look at China's history in the 19th century and you'll understand why the Boxer Rebellion happened, and why the specifically targeted missionaries. Too often they were agents of Imperialism rather than Christ's Kingdom. The West has a dismal record in places like China. I remember everyone being horrified in 1997 when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China. Look into the Opium Wars and how Britain acquired it in the first place and then you'll be outraged they even had it to begin with. Remember before post-war America, Britain was the pre-eminent Christian power.

The wicked will always persecute the gospel, but how often are the sufferings of the Church due to ties with the West and with Empire? How often are Christians viewed as a fifth column by regimes that have legitimate fears of Western expansion and interference? Look at the Montagnards during Vietnam. Many were Christian, converted by Western missionaries and during the war they helped the Americans. I'm not arguing for the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese Army. Don't misunderstand. But what I'm trying to say is, the Christianity they were taught led them to help a foreign invader. Is it any wonder when the Communists completed control of the country they turned against them? Look at the Chaldean and Assyrian Christians in Iraq. They've helped the Americans. Why? They weren't converted by missionaries, nor were they persecuted (for the most part) by their neighbours until the Americans arrived. They were persecuted by Ataturk, but that was a secular regime with nationalist ideals. Were they hoping for power, for favour in a new regime? Instead, their American allies have destroyed and radicalized a country and a region and these ancient communities are almost at an end. Most have had to flee.

In the early Church, Christians were tolerated and flourished in Parthian and Sassanid Persia, but when Constantine politicized Christianity, the Persian emperors viewed the Christian population as a threat and turned against them.

Let us rid ourselves of the curse of Constantinianism. It harms the gospel in the West and all around the world.

Colson:

Of course, this isn’t the primary reason that Christianity is “becoming globalized far more rapidly than is democracy, capitalism or modernity.” That is due to the proclamation of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Still, it’s a powerful reminder of how Christianity transforms not only individual lives but entire societies as well.

Protoprotestant:

Colson is the arch-Sacralist. He's done more to promote and popularize it in Evangelical circles than anyone else. He is the classic wolf in sheep's clothing. If he calls the British and American Empires the work of the Holy Spirit, then I would say he's guilty of blasphemy.

Anyone who has good news about Biblical Christianity in Asia, please share. I can find very little. I'm not saying they have to be perfect, but I can't seen to find very many examples of it. Everything seems to be either Charismatic, Prosperity, Syncretistic, or Statist like in the Three-Self Patriotic Churches in China.

1 comment:

Eliyahu BenYsrael said...

He seems to forget the 14 centuries between Constantine and the industrial revolution, where Christianity produced some very unpleasant results in the fields of science, technology, economics, medicine and the arts. And ironically, the Age of reason and it's humanist philosophy actually brought about the modern explosion in all these fields over the past two centuries; he neglects to mention that. And he also neglects to mention how much of it was from non Western cultures whose advances were shared with the west triggering the "renaissance". (of paganism)

These folks must think medieval Christians were champions of human rights, women's equality, universal education and suffrage and laisse faire capitalism; concepts they loathe when their humanist arch enemies-and inventors of these concepts-speak them, but love to claim them for Christiandom, all while ignoring the Christian capitalist roots of genocide, slavery, racism, sexism and a whole wave of human suffering. Oh well, that's propaganda.