28 February 2014

The Marketplace becomes Zion and other errors


Dominionism has wormed its way into mainstream Evangelicalism. The erroneous views of Francis Schaeffer and others have borne fruit. This report on the regional 'Christian' radio station exemplifies this.

While we are certainly to be Christians in all that we do, the sweeping of streets and wiping of tables is not part of the Holy and Redemptive (as in redeemed from the curse of sin) work of the Holy Spirit. These tasks are not sinful, but they're not holy either.

The viewpoint expressed in this broadcast, the teaching of Vocation basically turns the common society into the 'Holy'. The battles for culture become the battles of the Kingdom. Babylon becomes Zion or at least that the goal.

The Dominionist being interviewed would call me a heretic. I would simply point out that the New Testament does not teach his doctrine and it only arose with the titanic shift that occurred when Constantine decided to use the cross to establish his political power and thus transformed both the Empire and the Church forever.

It is both sad and repugnant that this fellow left work that was probably worthy for the cesspool of the financial world. Sacralism also bred another false and contorted doctrine...financial stewardship. The middle class values concerning respectability and security (which Sacralism has baptized) are contrary to the ethos and mandate of the New Testament.

The mindset of the financial planner and the social establishment are the antithesis of Christian ethics and literally flip the Kingdom of God on its head.

With Dominionism there is no antithesis. Sacral theology baptizes the society and confuses legitimate and necessary work with Kingdom work.

When you're out wiping tables you do it as a Christian with honesty and integrity. But our Kingdom work is not tied to the building up of profits for a restaurant (or any business) which will burn in the cleansing fires of the Parousia. The work is not part of heaven. We're pilgrims here.

Rather you look for opportunities to speak the Gospel and demonstrate it by your actions. You do your job to be sure, or sometimes as Christians we are 'called' to quit a job, walk away, speak out against and reject. The world will hate us. If we're being faithful we will never have 'success' or 'prosperity'...we will never be respectable or part of the social establishment.

Our only vocation, our only calling in terms of the Kingdom is to be Christians.

The ethic and calling of the New Testament does not 'market' very well. There's nothing about it that would please the flesh. The idea that you can market the gospel demonstrates a total misunderstanding of its nature. We don't become Christians because we get something out of it. It's not a door to success or a set of principles to help you work your life out.

We're Christians because the Gospel rooted in the person and work of Christ is the Truth.

Sometimes we can speak of 'calling' in terms of:

Fred is really gifted at carpentry. That seems to be his calling.


Jane is a fantastic housewife. Domesticity is her obvious calling in life.

But these callings and vocations are not the same as our calling to be Christians. We approach these things as Christians, but the work itself isn't Christian work. A pagan can do beautiful carpentry. A pagan can change diapers, cook and sew. Sometimes pagans are much better at these things than we are.

Sacralism teaches the work itself becomes holy. Fred's carpentry contributes to the work of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary.

Cooking and decorating are valid and can help create a warmer environment for the family. And as great as those things are, the work is not holy.

As Christians our marriages are certainly holy...something the pagan marriage is not. Why do we expect them to embrace Christian understandings of marriage? To understand the typology you must be Born Again.

Our children are clearly holy in both the Old and New Testaments, but the majority of the Church denies this reality both in substance and form.

The theology espoused by this Reformed man seeks to make the Kingdom applicable to all of life, but actually he's negating the work of the Kingdom by confusing it with the world.

The spiritual Kingdom which calls us to take up the cross is generally rejected. They don't want the cross, they want the glory and the power...now.

The mindset that is generated by the theology I'm espousing is one of detachment. We do our work but our lives are about something else. The aspirations of our culture should be of no interest to us. In a culture as affluent and covetous as our own, this will mean that we will seem like strange and peculiar people, alien to the culture around us.

As I've written elsewhere these types of people would accuse someone like me of being a 'Sunday only' Christian. Because I don't believe that today when I was changing out a hot water tank, that that actual physical work was contributing to the Kingdom...then I'm somehow a Gnostic who leaves my faith behind on Monday morning.

On the contrary, the baptizing of cultural norms means that for these people during the week they can engage in business (and the ethics of the marketplace) which often and normatively violate Scriptural mandates. They can hide behind 'office' or 'vocation' and ultimately sin. They can claim certain behaviours which would be wrong for them to do in an 'individual capacity' are okay and permitted in terms of the office they're fulfilling.

We can exploit people in the name of loyalty to the stockholder, or an economic doctrine but if we behaved that way individually we would be called unscrupulous.

If someone is a police officer or soldier, their 'vocation' allows them to use violence and intimidation even though such a thing would be worthy of excommunication if they acted like that as an individual.

It is this doctrine of vocation which allows Christians to leave their faith behind as they go to work. If they took their faith with them, many of these false kingdom builders would either quit or get fired. This doctrine has given them an excuse to compromise the Kingdom.

If this Dominionist calls me a heretic (as he would the Waldensians and certainly the Anabaptists both past and present) then it is a label I gladly embrace. Yes, your views are antithetical to what I believe the Bible teaches and are dangerous, destructive, and represent the same Judaizing spirit of Rome that has plagued the Church for centuries. It is a return to the forms of the Old Testament seeking to understand the Kingdom in terms of political power and unified civilization, a typology that has been fulfilled and done away with.

The Common Grace culture of the world is God's way of restraining sin while the gospel is at work. That's our business as Christians. The other things while valid and necessary are secondary.

My hot water tank and drywall work will not be part of the Kingdom. Cathedrals while theologically erroneous to begin with will look like silly tinker toy creations when we are in heaven. The works of Rembrandt will look like a child's crayon sketch. The scales of Bach will sound like a spoon beating on a pan.

The Dominionists who believe these things will be part of heaven have embraced an erroneous view of God's Kingdom. These works while perhaps enjoyable (and perhaps not) are not 'redeemed'. They are not the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The adherents of Vocation will say that my ethos is 'to not polish brass on a sinking ship', to just let the world fall apart. On the contrary, we are very involved in the world. We are truth-tellers. We are salt and light. Our presence, our antithesis drives the world mad and is a harbinger of the coming judgment. We are like Noah, building the ark (not the Cainite civilization) and proclaiming the coming Judgment. We live in their civilization and it vexes us but we don't transform it.

Like the Jews in exile, we live in Babylon, we raise our families, build our houses and tend our gardens. But we don't take over Babylon, we don't make it into Zion. We don't sanctify their temples or build ours in their capitals.

The Sacralist doesn't understand the nature of the Christian life. It is rooted in self-denial. We aren't ignoring the world, detaching ourselves from it and treating it as of no importance. We are not monastic's or ascetics. We live in the world but we're not of it. We bear witness and we glorify God by maintaining our faith and worshipping Him while the world seeks to destroy us.

Here are some links to other articles related to these topics....


Cal said...

I didn't listen to the program, but was just at a conference where multiple definitions of 'Kingdom Work' were floating around. Some were left-wing social-justice Constantinian visions, but others seemed to broaden the category.

By that I mean marriage. Pagans can have relatively happy marriages, and can raise decent kids. Yet they fail to truly image marriage Messianically, which reflects Jesus and His people. Between believers, it makes something holy out of the common.

So maybe in the same way work is "sanctified" (I'm using this elastically, maybe it's not a good word). That by being honest, fair etc etc. it is done to the glory of God. This invites in how Paul talks about slaves and masters, or maybe even employers/employees in our world.

Of course there's a lot of dominionism, and a lot of immorality and evil that goes on in the name of 'Vocation'. However, that might not be all within such a spectrum.

Food for Thought

Protoprotestant said...

Is our work covenantal?

Does marriage continue into heaven?

The left-wing versions are just as bad.

My 'ministry' is to be a Christian. Hanging drywall isn't a ministry, even if I do it honestly.

'IF' I did it for free, or did plumbing for free that might be something different. Mr. Financial Advisor makes a very nice living. It's not a ministry. In fact (most likely) he's a crook.

Cal said...

I agree left-wing Constantinianism is as bad as right-wing Constantinianism. It's all Sacralism, and thus misguided at best.

But what you said is my point. Marriage ceases to continue, so do our works. All of this as we know them anyway. However, marriage and our works are subsumed within our following Jesus. Being Christian means knowing Christ, which is only real in obeying His commands. That is loving one another.

However that manifests, as single or married, as an employer or an employee, it's under that. There's nothing redemptive about it, but it's transformed to be different. Not outwardly, but in the heart.

Of course, Mr. Financial Advisor may be a crook, but it means he's being unfaithful. What transformationalists and dominionists demand is making the world into something that it's not. They say go be soldiers, politicians, policemen, stockbrokers for the kingdom of God. Maybe some people exist who do give glory in some of those things, but it's far wiser to tell people to avoid such professions.

Maybe it's safer to say that one ought to be a Christian within plubming/financing/whatever vs. the Constantinian attempt to be a Christian-Plumber or a Christian-Financer.

I'm trying to think out the boundaries here.


Protoprotestant said...

As always I appreciate the thoughtfulness. But what about the covenant aspect?

I'm not arguing. I'm thinking with you because I've hesitated a bit over this point.

Marriage is somehow different than say a job.

When I go out a do an honest and fair plumbing job the Christian aspect is that I'm being honest and doing the work with integrity. The honesty and integrity and compassion or whatever. THAT's my 'ministry'.

The plumbing is just pipes with water (and other things!). It could just as easily be wood, stone, numbers on paper, a painting etc....

Since everything is under Christ, then that affects how I do the work and whether I do the work.

Pardon if this sounds wrong but I'm the one that's holy, not the work. The Spirit lives and works and speaks through me...not the work. There are better plumbers and carpenters out there than me.

I can stand next to anyone though when it comes to painting trim work. (smile)

It's a subtle distinction but it's huge because in their statements and agenda there's an elephant in the room that they try to ignore when it's brought up.

I most certainly am a Christian who operates within the remodeling world. But it's not the Christian Remodeling world. I know what you mean, but I don't know how many others will. It's really tough to get people to see this...especially when 95% of them disagree.

On the surface it sounds so obvious... Of course my work is holy.

Well, not exactly.

The passage in Corinthians isn't referring to the sanctification of our jobs. It's about love being the motivation in how we relate to others in what we partake of (or not) with their consciences and hearts in mind.

I think the passage has been hijacked by Sacralism.

...not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

There's nothing about holy work or society in the passage.

Eliyahu BenYsrael said...

This is really a thought provoking article; I hadn't realized the paradigm I was in was a man made construct of Christianism. The "Protestant Work Ethic" may actually be the original "Prosperity Gospel"! I recently wondered how being a Christian would make people "work harder" and become rich from doing so. (As though other peoples don't work very hard already!) Why would Christians become wealthy from it; isn't our work to provide for ourselves and for those in need? But when you tie in Sacralism, it becomes clear that such a philosophy is to prop up dominionism. I hadn't even considered how the ethics of an office can provide a cover from Christian responsibility.

You've given me quite a bit to think about bro. Thanks and God Bless you in Jesus' Name.

Protoprotestant said...

There are problems with the Protestant Work Ethic. Some people question the whole concept.

I recall in 'Eastward to Tartary' the author talks with a Hungarian about this topic and the Hungarian scholar insisted it's the Prussian Work Ethic. He cited the Hungarian Calvinists as an example where the Weber idea (Protestant Work Ethic) didn't apply.

Of course there could be arguments against that too.

But I think you're correct. The Protestant Work Ethic coupled with Dominionism which sort of expands that idea is a more cultured form of the Prosperity Gospel. The cheap variety is really individualistic and tacky. The more cultured version thinks in terms of society.

DG Hart pointed out that it's kind of like unless you're advancing civilization it's as if the Kingdom is failing. Kingdom faithfulness is tied to cultural advancement and flourishing. That's a form of Prosperity.

I'm still learning too but thanks for the encouraging note.

Protoprotestant said...

Some additional thoughts....