12 January 2014

Perchik's Hermeneutic and the Politicization of Everything (3 of 3)

As Christians we are to die to ourselves. We are in the process of putting to death the old sinful nature and living as those who are already seated in Heaven with Christ.

We view everything through regenerate eyes but we never seek political power. We had better be aware of it, quick to expose it and critique it. The world's devices are both clever and seductive. But the world's goals concerning power and the lust can only create a Pseudo-Zion a Pseudo-Eden... that's the last thing in the world we want.

And for all the Church's efforts to manifest the Kingdom through civilizational and political power, that's all they will end up with. A cheap imitation, a counterfeit, and there's nothing more dangerous than that.

If we do embrace this fool's quest we end up like Perchik. Everything is about the quest for power. We will be deluded and deceived. This is why I hear Christians contorting and twisting Scripture to serve their political purposes.

It's an old trick. Take a walk around Washington. The monuments are plastered with misapplied and tortured Scripture verses seeking to justify violence and promote the idolatry that America is somehow sanctified by God. We ought to be demanding these things be removed, instead Christians clamour to defend, protect and promote these errors.

The Bible is quoted as a means to dominate others, to empower the state. Even humanitarian activities are political. Even when good things are done, they do them for the wrong motive.

Laws are passed, not to glorify God (as if they could). They're passed to consolidate power.

Candidates run for office seeking power and vain-glory. They say they seek to honour God calling him Lord, but they won't do what He says.

People take to the streets in protest, not for righteous indignation but to weaken power, break it and grab up the pieces.

The non-violence of King and Gandhi also fall into this category. It can be admirable, even moving. I'm reminded of the scene in 'Gandhi' where the little man dressed in homespun is shown walking up the massive steps into the heart of the British Raj and all its power only to find out that they've acquiesced to him and are leaving. It's very moving and no matter how many times I watch it, it brings me to tears.

But in the end even this type of non-violent protest is a form of coercion. It's one thing to refuse obedience and either take the punishment or leave. It's something quite different to 'resist' in order to try and force change. It's a proven method and one preferable to the sword but in the end it is also a form of force. It's basically trying to flip the violence back onto your adversary and hope that they will splinter and self-implode. And then when they retreat, you assert.

And sometimes it works. And while I sympathize strongly with that tactic, it too can be corrupted and problematic. It also can be a form of power-seeking. These were the points Niebuhr brought out in his post-War criticism of Pacifism and non-resistance. His models are flawed and his thinking non-Christian but Niebuhr did raise some valid points.

We must oppose Abortion and homosexuality and all the sinful cancers that rot and torment our world. But in understanding that the cure is the Gospel of Grace, we realize the means to bring those things to an end has nothing to do with political activity.

I admire those who have been arrested for blocking the sidewalk to an abortion clinic. There's real courage there. And I don't doubt there are some who genuinely care for the lives of the unborn.

I really admire those who are reaching out to impoverished pregnant women and helping them not only to keep the child but helping them after the baby is born.

Sadly those who have politicized this issue show their true colours when they encourage the woman to keep her child but then abandon her to the conditions that made her think about getting rid of it in the first place. And then they castigate her for her poverty and dependence. And all too often if she's part of a race that doesn't control the establishment institutions of our society she (and her child) is trapped in a death cycle. They're imprisoned in a world lacking any hope, any promise and riddled with deceitful traps that pretend to offer ways of escape, but only lead to the destruction of both body and soul, a prison cell and an early death.

You cannot claim to be Pro-Life and support policies that harm people. You can't claim to care about the unborn and then abandon them in the ghetto and gang dominated neighbourhoods. You can't claim to be Pro-Life and support militarism and all the political and economic mechanisms of Empire. Empire is just a power monopoly. It's theft and murder on a grand scale.

So while I support the overthrow of Abortion, I cannot join with the movements who engage in political protest. Speaking in generalized terms their motives are deeply flawed. And I say that knowing there are those involved who do have and maintain pure hearts.

All of these issues are tied in with political power and agendas. If I speak to certain sins, people in our society don't hear Good News or an urge to repent and reconciled to God. They hear a political agenda.

If I speak to my Lesbian neighbour down the road about the Gospel, she doesn't hear about peace with God. She hears a political programme that seeks to destroy her.

"We're not trying to destroy them," some will cry in protest. When you fine people and ban them from social participation, then you're using the force of law, the threat of violence to oppose and crush them. If they pay the fine then they're submitting to the moral force of the state. People will resist and when given the chance will lash out in retaliation. We're seeing that right now.

They of course are wrong. Their moral compass (as it were) is skewed and quite literally perverted. But what's the remedy?

Do we call on the police to bring the Gospel at the point of a gun? If you don't pay your fines, at some point a court will issue a warrant and men with guns will come to your house and 'force' you to appear before the Judge. And if you don't submit he will order the officers to 'forcibly' and against your will 'constrain' you.

Is this the way we spread the Gospel?

This is the end result, the telos of political activity. It's calling on violent means to accomplish our goals even if we think they're moral.

This is not the way. We're thankful that some states have better moral compasses than others. We can vote, we can go to a town meeting and speak about zoning or water, or noise ordinances. We can seek a better Babylon but we had better not forget that in the end, that's all it is. And Babylon only offers a false gospel.

Like Perchik, the deceived use the Bible not as a means of being reconciled to God and knowing Christ. They use it as a tool even a weapon of conquest. I will not labour the point here as I have elsewhere but this is precisely the imagery we are being warned about in the 17th chapter of the Apocalypse.

And while right now I can laugh at the tortured political and economic hermeneutics of Perchik, twisting every Scripture to his perverted and ridiculous ends... I have to say when I encounter the very same in the Church, it's not funny at all.






Cal said...

The way I see it, there is a nuance, though a distinct one. On the one hand, Jesus people ought to promote the good of the city just like the Jews of Babylon. Living peaceable lives, living for the other/neighbor etc etc.

However, we're not to be "yolked with unbelievers" as Paul would have it. Many times this is twisted to mean something like "Christians can't marry non-Christians". While that's probably not a wise choice, if it is a choice, Paul is talking about getting raveled up in the World.

I'm not sure how this all goes though. Would I support MLK Jr. in his peaceful means to end government sanctioned segregation? Yes, but is it a cure for racism? Does it ultimately fix the problem? No, but that's the difference between the Politics of Jesus vs. the Politics of whichever Nation-State we belong to. We're apart of a kingdom not of this world who is awaiting her Lord. There's no expectation to transform.

Yet, I suppose I'm still hazy on what exactly it is when being yoked. Clearly I could list the power-mongering attempts of the church in unity with a state, or as a collective of "religious organizations" like Moral Majority. Maybe it's a disposition of the heart. Participating, but knowing its both pragmatic and transient.

A pertinent example might be Ellul in his book "On Violence". In it he mentions a scenario of what happened after the fall of Vichy. He said there was nothing wrong with believers aiding the resistance, and helping undermine Nazi puppet-rule (e.g. hiding Jews, giving shelter to resistance members etc.). However when Vichy fell, many of these Christians joined the ascendent Gaulist France and hunt down and persecute those who had supported Vichy.

This, Ellul said, showed their real allegiance. They had not aided the downtrodden on account of Christ, but on account of patriotism to a Free France. The Christian response would be to aid the persecuted "Collaborators", caring for them as neighbors, yea, even former persecutors.

It's still confusing. Anyway, as usual, my 2 1/2 cents,


Protoprotestant said...

Ellul on Vichy...that's a good example.

In the end I wouldn't condemn those who marched with King. Far from it.

But it's worth thinking about...what are the ultimate goals etc...

There's more to the passage in Corinthians than marriage, though that's there too.

Like you, I'm not always sure where to draw the lines. What's too far? It's hard to say.

Eliyahu BenYsrael said...

Speaking of politicization: I just heard about the movie "God Loves Uganda" where the American conservative evangelical churches are behind Uganda's severe anti-gay laws and culture-funding and legislatively. If you've heard about this film, and situation, could you please share your insight? Thanks bro.

Protoprotestant said...

I've heard of it but I haven't seen it.

But I have read and heard quite a bit about the anti-gay stuff in Uganda.

The Christian Right is heavily involved in Uganda and South Sudan. I wouldn't be surprised if Kenya is also in play but I haven't found much on that yet.

We believe of course that it is sinful but I have no desire to harm people or use the law to crush them. My message for them isn't the threat of the state sword....it's the Gospel message of repentance and faith.

This whole thing reminds me of the stuff I was just recently writing about with regard to Angola and Zaire. They're sort of killing two birds with one stone.

They want to spread Dominionism...I know, they've never heard the term even though they advocate all its main ideas.... but it's also a means of American power-projection.

America is pivoting to East Asia but they also are prepping for bases in Africa. The Rift Valley is prime real estate. Just look at Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda. Prime locations for a geo-footprint and intervention.

This is about the resource struggle with China and anyone else who wants to even try. West African oil and Central Africa mineral resources...a little Sacral Christianity...

Welcome Neo-Colonialism Phase 2.

Protoprotestant said...

Let me know if you see it and where to find it.

If you go to NPR and type in Uganda I think you'll find some interviews...I think it was Jeff Sharlet...he talks about what's happening there.

I'm hoping Victoria will jump in too. She probably has some insight here. She's spent time with the Acholi people in the north. They've been crushed by Museveni the current ruler who took over in the 80's in the wake of the Idi Amin fiasco.

The Acholi were brutalised by Amin and Museveni. Sadly the most famous Acholi is Joseph Kony of the LRA. I'm afraid the Acholi have backed two of the wrong guys Obote and Okello and then have paid the price. The fact that some have been radicalised isn't too surprising.

Eliyahu BenYsrael said...

Great info brother! I'll be checking it out and let you know what I find.