03 January 2014

Propaganda Mills- Think Tanks and the Ivory Towers of the Christian Right (2/2)


Mohler's guest Mary Eberstadt has researched the demise of the family, the Church and the rise of Secularism. By the end of the interview it's pretty clear what Eberstadt wishes to do and that's attack the Welfare State. This is not a surprise considering she's affiliated with the Hoover Institution another Right Wing Think Tank which has produced the likes of Thomas Sowell and other very popular pseudo-intellectual propagandists. Their purpose is not intelligent discussion but the advancement of an agenda... funded by some of the largest military, financial and industrial entities in the United States. The list of current and past corporate sponsors includes ARCO, ADM, Boeing, Exxon, JP Morgan, Rockwell and Transamerica. Hoover represents serious financial and political interests and that has to be taken into account.

Eberstadt argues that the reason our culture has become secularised is the Welfare State. The Welfare State broke the family and this has led to a decline in Church attendance, influence on society, etc...

Now since she's a Roman Catholic, I don't expect her to understand Christianity and how the Gospel works but I would expect more from Mohler. But he's quite enthused and energized by this thesis, because the conclusions of the book fit his political ideology and policy goals.

Why have people quit going to Church? Biblically the answer is really very simple. The majority of people are unregenerate. People don't go to Church because they're not Christians. And those that are have been largely driven out of the Church because our Churches are filled with those who don't know Christ. This is very evident on any given Sunday morning. A Bible adherent will look almost in vain to find a congregation following Scripture. More often than not we're looking for something we can sit through that isn't engaged in outright blasphemy or sacrilege. Right away any Biblically informed and shaped Christian will know this question cannot be answered in sociological terms. It's first and foremost a theological question and unless that is first addressed, any conclusions or arguments will be a waste of time. What is a Christian? What is the Church? Eberstadt and surprisingly Mohler aren't answering these questions in Biblical terms.

If a Christian is wrought by and redeemed by the Holy Spirit...can this be thwarted by the Welfare State? Can a lack of a Welfare State help to produce Christians? This whole line of thinking is ludicrous. God certainly uses Providential Means but formally the Means the Gospel employs are those restricted to those who are in Covenant with Him. For the society at large they are not God's people and He is not their God.

Sociology and economics can create a Christian veneer but in no way affect the Gospel message, its purity or its potency. Mohler to his shame seems to have forgotten that. If he claims to be a Christian intellectual... then literally all I can say is.... God help his audience.

False teaching can affect how the Gospel works in a given venue and that's actually the salient issue. False teaching can destroy its potency because lost people will always embrace a false gospel versus the true. They want their ears tickled and nothing can be more pagan the sacralization of a society, the belief that 'god' is with them in the building of their Babel.

This whole interview from topic, to discussion, to commentary and conclusion, is a classic case of Sacralism redefining what Christianity is. The whole conversation from a theological standpoint is essentially worthless. From a Biblical standpoint, the categories are heretical.

But it's also historically and sociologically flawed. This is typical of the Think Tanks Mohler praises and the work of people like Alvin Schmidt and Rodney Stark. They believe their own propaganda and yet to even an uneducated amateur, most of their ideas are patently ridiculous. They cry foul regarding Revisionist histories when they themselves have spent a lifetime engaged in such work. They have not re-cast history with a Christian Worldview in mind. Instead they have baptised evil deeds and transformed the Kingdom of God into a war machine and the Gospel into a message of power captured through blood and oppression. Western Christendom the object of their adoration is a bloodthirsty whore and an affront to God.

Rejecting their romantic views of the Christian West, we understand Europe was on a path to secularism centuries before the advent of the Welfare State. Eberstadt's thesis is completely flawed and historically fallacious. She has interpreted the data through American Conservative eyes and completely missed the absurdity of her theory. Again, she's a Roman Catholic. She's not dealing with Biblical categories. But even employing Roman Catholic definitions and concepts the argument does not stand. An editor worth anything would have shut down the project but an editor looking to sell books would realize (sadly) there's a large audience that prefers fantasy to non-fiction and doesn't know the difference.

Even in the United States to suggest Secularism is a product of the Great Society or the New Deal is terribly short-sighted. Secularism in the United States goes right back to the Colonial period. Like Europe it was by no means universal. The culture was still largely religious but the seeds were not only planted but bearing fruit. Was this a result of the New Deal or the Great Society? But I have a feeling both Eberstadt and Mohler would play fast and loose with American history as well. The romanticised hermeneutic of many Christian historians works hard to ignore much of what has happened. They don't understand how society works today, why should their interpretations of the past be any different?

They rage against the Sixties when they believe they began to lose the Social Consensus. In reality, Elvis, Hugh Hefner, and the Pill were already present before the hippies and anti-war protesters appeared. And before the era of FDR, we had Flappers and Suffragettes...yes, they've tried to re-write their history and 'claim' these people as Christian. Not only is this laughable but a generation ago no one would have accepted such a notion.

One only has to look at popular culture, the economy and the universities to see Secularism was already deeply entrenched in American society long before the Welfare State appeared. This flawed thesis blinds them to other realities concerning the break-up of the family. They are blind to the role Capitalism has played in manipulating desire, promoting covetous hearts, fostering greed and manipulating the poorer classes.

But if Biblical Christians are forced to rely on Mohler who can't see through this falsehood, then the Church is in trouble. And that would be the case I continue to make that the current crop of leaders, seeking to lead the Church into the political Promised Land are in fact Judgment sent from God. What else could it be? The last thing they're doing is promoting Truth. They live for lies and care only for power. They have called evil good and good evil. And in this case they are truly in every sense wise in their own eyes. But judging themselves by themselves... they are moral fools. And that's the essence of many of these Ministries and Think Tank academic circles. They pat each other on the back and praise one another for their wit and wisdom but their wisdom is only applicable in the fantasy world they have invented and the cultural isolation in which many of them live and move.

The Welfare State is almost entirely a 20th century creation. Secularism was well afoot by the 17th century... a by-product of the Reformation and a practical result of the Wars of Religion. How then could Secularism have been produced by the breakdown of the family resulting from the Welfare State?

You don't have to be a historian or trained sociologist to immediately see this argument is severely defective... by several magnitudes, and centuries. And even blaming the breakdown of the family on the Welfare State is something that could be easily challenged. At best it's a severe reductionism.

But it happens to fit with the policy goals of the Hoover Institution and dovetails nicely with the social commentary of the Christian Right.

I guess I'm the fool. I'm out breaking my back in the rain and snow with bloody fingers trying to keep the heat turned on and I could be like many of these fine academics and people in 'ministry'... they can dream up historical fantasies, dress up statistics, make a very nice living and sit around and pat themselves on the back. Obviously intelligence is not what is required. All you need are some conjured up credentials and a willingness to sell your soul.

Whether you agree with the Welfare State or not is hardly the point. It's the fact that the lies and dreams of the propagandists have grown to the point of absurdity and it bothers me, deeply, when I walk into Christian homes and see not only Mohler, Eberstadt and Sowell on their shelves but a host of additional 'Christian' historians and commentators who (to me) are far more guilty and culpable for the present state of the American Church. This is Judgment.

God's will be done but I think it is imperative that Biblical Christianity calls out the false prophets. I bow to Providence, but we are called to speak the truth even if no one is listening.

Do we really think the enemies of the Church will come blaspheming God? Some certainly do but the Assyrians were never the real threat. The real threat came from those speaking in the name of Yahweh and yet led the people astray.

We live in a day where Satan can be bold and put forward the likes of Joel Osteen and Benny Hinn and millions flock to them. But what is amazing is to see how the experiment which began in the late 1970's...the Christian Right has brought all these groups together and the more intellectual wings (mostly Reformed) have been able to shape public policy and posture. Mohler can't get the TBN followers to quit rolling around on the floor and screaming but he can get them to vote, write checks, and support sociological and political ideas. And thus while he may be in many ways more sound than most of the American Church, his Sacralist foundation and impulses are just as dangerous as the demon possessed followers of Crouch, Bentley, Hinn and many others.

 

 

4 comments:

Eliyahu BenYsrael said...

Great critique of the ,ahem, "think tanks" which help many Americans not to think. The selective use or understanding of history is ubiquitous and it's results are commonly seen on Fox News. This is the reason the world opposes Americhristianity-not the Gospel.

Eliyahu BenYsrael said...

Only one thing: why bother with going to churches full of this nonsense? Or trying to change Christians' minds by telling them about it? You just get nowhere. You're better off staying home and reading the Bible with your family than participating in this charade, or trying to communicate with their bizarre theologies.

Just my observation.

brother Eliyahu

Cal said...

What's even more patently ridiculous is that a lot of the Christian Right, and Conservatism in general, hold together a multitude of contradictions that make almost no sense when you pick at them.

Take Capitalism. The Industrial Revolution was what did the great number on the family in the Anglo world (and elsewhere too, but I'm honing in). It was Smith's supposedly benign 'Invisible Hand' that led to the psuedo-Darwinism of Spencer. Smith wasn't even making a back-door apology for Christianity, he conceived of a deistic-'secular' account of providence. Spencer, and other 19th century thinkers, only carried through the evaluation. The world is covered in shadow. Without the hope of resurrection, the cheery gloss of christendom faded fast from the Enlightenment deists, and they quickly became agnostics or atheists.

It was a man-eat-man world. The family was a relic of a backwards age. Now man could make himself. Given this account, it baffles me how Conservatives claim the legacy, and even prop up Ayn Rand as a loose cannon incarnation of their thought. Red Toryism makes more sense of the history than what is touted as Conservatism.

Even many of the founders feared such free-wielding capitalism, as utilized by the neo-imperialism of England. Yet the seduction of empire is great.

But the theological aim of American sacralism has to evolve and adapt to survive. Thus they adopt Elvis and his "devil music" as wholesome. I wouldn't be surprised to see in our lifetimes the acceptance of hippies into the Religious Right.

America's babel project is like quicksilver, but chameleons can change color only so many times. Let it be consigned to the rubbish bin of history.

Eliyahu:
I only speak for myself, but I can't restrict myself to my home for congregating. There are good places, they're just difficult to find. The sad thing is that I'd be content with the insanity of the Corinthian church, because it's at least a church.

Cal

Protoprotestant said...

Thanks for the comments. I'll try to get back to these tomorrow evening.