23 September 2015

Inbox: If Sacralism is in error, why bother studying the world system?

Why write about news and discuss dark secrets of history etc...? 

Why do I spend so much time writing about events in history and the news? Why probe into the inner workings and dark secrets of power and those who would seek to wield it? Isn't this is a distraction, a waste of time?

It can be. This is the battlefield, and spending all of our time and energy on these things can crush us and wear us down. There are times when we need to set this aside and focus exclusively on the Word, relish in a commentary or theological work and wrestle with profound doctrines. These things are done doxologically, in a spirit of worship. We never seek knowledge just for the sake of acquiring it. It all serves a purpose, it must have an end goal in sight. We are to glorify God even in our thought-life and the knowledge we seek to obtain.

I strive to make sure I spend a good amount of time in the Word and thinking about Biblical doctrine and not spend all my time on the battle. We can lose sight of the goal, lose the forest through the trees and get swept away.

But exposing the world and understanding it has a purpose.

On the one hand the world is that which is passing away and we, laying up our treasures in heaven are not to be troubled by wars and rumours of wars... the struggles for power, the control of money.

Even the world seems (at times) to grasp the spiritual and political nature of money better than many a Christian does. I am reminded of two song lines from my younger days.

With, without, and who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about...

And gold is the reason for the wars we wage...

While in one sense it doesn't matter and we're not to be concerned, at the same time we are called to bear witness. Many have erred in thinking it is our calling to transform, to recreate the City of Man into the City of God. The City of Man is destined to burn in the fires of Judgment. But what we're called to do is to be salt and light and warn the world that Christ is coming. We are to testify to the truth, expose lies, cast down the imaginations and idolatries of man. We are called to be an element of agitation, seasoning, to be that something in the world that doesn't let fallen humanity just go along with what it's doing.

This is the Antithesis applied. Our task can rightly be called Negation. We with our lives and testimony regarding the truth 'cancel out' the world system, its lies and the false hope it proffers.

Transformationalists seek to posit so-called Christian alternatives but there are none but the Gospel. I do not mean the Gospel attached to a world system, what is commonly called 'worldview'. They seek to redefine the Gospel by incorporating aspects of civilisational building. But this framework is the child of philosophical speculation not the fruit of exegesis and the study of the Apostolic hermeneutic. The New Testament (which defines the Old) knows nothing of this vision. Instead we are to bear witness to the fact that Christ is returning and we are to live our lives in light of that.

We don't have to offer alternatives to the world's systems of politics, economics and society. Instead we critique them. Living among them we display truth and love and defy the wisdom of the world. The only solution we offer is the Kingdom of Heaven, the realm in which a true 'social system' is and will be possible. This Kingdom is only accessible through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is life in the Spirit. The world can neither see it nor comprehend it.

But like the prophets of old we don't live in a separatist vacuum. We are set apart, separate and called to live as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, but to bear witness we have to be in the world and thus we had better have our eyes open, we had better have some understanding. This implies that we are necessarily outsiders within the culture. We apply the words of Christ and understand that which the world esteems, mammon and all the power, security and respectability it implies are things to be reckoned as abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16).

We live in the world, suffering, struggling and yet spiritually flourishing. We expose the lies of the nations, which necessarily includes everything outside of The Nation, the Covenant Israel of God, The Holy Kingdom, the Church of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2, 1 Peter 1).

Like the prophets who denounced Edom and Moab, we denounce America, Britain, Russia and China and any aspect of their pagan idolatries that enter within the Covenant context of the Church. One thinks of Samaria as an Old Testament example of this principle. Our rejections of worldly power are not merely tied to the nation-state. We reject all power-systems which seek to lift up the horn, to proclaim power in the sight of God and build a pseudo-Zion in this present age. Thus we reject economic models whether it be Capitalism or Communism. We reject all attempts at social structure whether it be tribalism, the clan, the social contract, the claims of monarchy, democracy and all the lies and tyrannies they generate.

And yet, we will happily live under any of them, function within them and flourish as the Church. We will pay the tax, obey the law, show respect but we won't bow the knee or venerate the symbols that represent the idolatrous claims that seek to rival Zion.

To understand the danger of syncretism we necessarily (to a degree) must understand the world systems and how they function, what temptations they offer and how they twist and distort the reality of the world in order to control the narrative, to create a means to power.

We criticise them to bear witness to the truth, and to help us to wrestle with the issues, to be conscious of the antithesis between us and the world around us.

By exposing the corruption of power from all sides, we can proclaim its depravity to the world and avoid the pitfalls of syncretism. We cannot live ignorantly in the false bliss that it generates. With eyes wide open we dive into the world and engage in the great but largely hidden spiritual war that the bulk of mankind is ignorant of. Some think the spiritual war is manifested in the struggle for culture. They've lost their way when they try to sacralise (make holy) that which cannot be redeemed. They are quite literally fighting the wrong war. The true spiritual war is between those infused with the Holy Spirit battling the demonic forces which seek to build Babel, and even worse coerce the Church into helping them and confusing Babel with Zion.

Like the prophets of old we sit in the sphere of the covenant and declare truth and thus judgment to the self-destructive world.

This is the venue and milieu in which we must live and operate. There is a spiritual war that we see obscurely through the physical world. We see the shadows of the actual activity. The culture is the project of Cain. It is fallen man, through demonic influence trying to build a pseudo-Zion and that's all he will ever be able to come up with. That said, that very culture is a means God employs to keep the world from premature disintegration. We benefit from it, though we must always remember what fallen culture is and what it's seeking to do.

We don't fight the earthly shadows themselves which are but distortions and vague manifestations of what is happening in the spiritual realm.

We fight the actual evil with the triadic swords of word, truth and light, as well as love, prayer and faith. God will judge those who are outside but we bear witness to that judgment. Our main battlefield is actually within the Church itself. It is there that we must guard against the false prophets. The New Testament is far more worried about the battle within the Church than dealing with the outside world. If you've missed that, then you need to revisit the New Testament.

But part of that guarding is to understand the words they (the infiltrators) bring, the lies of the cursed world that they seek to integrate with Biblical doctrine.

That's where the enemy can do great harm and choke the faith of many with the riches and cares of this world. How convenient that so many Christians have embraced a form of doctrine which teaches one's faith cannot be choked, the ideas of endurance and perseverance are simply semantic tools and that sanctification and mortification are more or less optional. In fact focusing on these Biblical doctrines and literally following the words of the text leads one to somehow detract from the grace of God! Focusing on one eschatological aspect of Scripture and elevating human reason, they have dangerously negated whole spheres of truth and have opened themselves up to what can only be called a type of blindness, a theological myopia when it comes to the true dangers of error and its ultimate end.

What is the telos, the end or purpose of studying history and talking about what is happening in the worlds of politics, economics and culture?

We do this to know the truth of the fallen lapsed world as it really is, to know how to live in light of the Kingdom and to help others see the futility of the world order.

We do it to help believers to see through the false theologies of worldview synthesis. There is a principle of rejection demonstrated to us in the Word. That should be all too clear. But in terms of apologetic practicality and application it's good to see the Word applied in terms of discernment. The more we see there is no alternative but Christ, our faith is strengthened.

Our criticisms must not be political in motivation. We're not engaging in criticism in order to garner to power or to take over as it were. As Christ says, his servants do not 'fight' for this Kingdom. We don't aid it, construct it, advance it or defend it through the use of power. It's not politics or the threat of the sword (politics applied) that helps us in this.

Christ did not come to cast down Caesar. That will happen when He comes in flaming fire bringing vengeance on those who reject Him. Our task is to follow the way of the cross, to imitate our Lord's earthly ministry and pattern our lives after Him. We are to live as those who are already seated in the heavens, but like our saviour we now dwell on the sin-cursed Earth of This Age.

It was only a false Christianity that neither rejected nor cast down Caesar, but instead transformed Christianity to embrace Caesar and incorporate Caesar into the paradigm of the Kingdom and Church. This is the Christian form of Sacralism also known as Constantinianism. This is the fruit of Dominionist impulse, the theology that believes the Kingdom is worldly, manifested in temporal power. This resulting syncretism is what is today also being marketed as Christian Worldview teaching.

It isn't Christian at all. It's syncretistic and rejects the Christian ethic, the Biblical notion of Antithesis vis-à-vis the world.

We criticise, but again our motivations are not political. The world will hate us anyway because of the offense of the Gospel and because we reject their false gospels and pseudo-Zion projects.

We don't judge them in the sense of possessing an implied authority or in terms of passing and executing sentence. We proclaim the Judge who is to come. He will judge them indeed.

We expose them, denounce them and help the Church to see the truth, to see reality which the Bible teaches us is spiritual and only discernible by those who are sanctified in the Spirit. We cast down their self-exaltations and propaganda, reject their claims, and most important of all when it comes to Christian Sacralism, we reject their ideology and meta-narratives and demonstrate them as unbiblical and in fact historical lies.

This is why it's worthwhile to understand something of the synthesis they work toward. We don't have to be experts. In a way our job is easy. We do not build, we negate and destroy (2 Corinthians 10.1-6).  The Spirit rebuilds and we build too but our treasures and work are in heaven.

Through the Spirit we bring all of our thoughts into captivity to Christ. This is not accomplished through the so-called Christianisation of culture. This is a sham, a veneer. It creates a Pharisaic hypocrisy and in no way fulfills or can fulfill what the Apostle is talking about. It's not a mandate to build new 'Christianised' systems to conquer and rule the world. It is a call to Antithesis.

The false gospel of Sacralism redefines good works and thus is confused in its reading and understanding of the world around us. By means of this flawed outlook, the pagans unwittingly can help in building the Kingdom, because the Kingdom is all but defined as civilisation. Building civilisation becomes a spiritual 'good work'.

But according to Scripture, building, laying up foundation stones and treasures in heaven is Gospel-work, redemptive work. It's the realm of the Holy Spirit, convicting of sin, responding in repentance, faith, worship and prayer. It is Spirit-wrought love.

It has nothing to do with earning money, building businesses, delving into the arts or building political frameworks. We cannot sanctify that which the Gentiles seek after, that which serves a temporary even momentary purpose, but will not be part of eternity.

Dominionist synthesis equates redemption with world conquest (under the euphemism of improvement). We are to bear witness to the destruction of this world and the hope of the New Heavens and Earth. We are groaning for the redemption, the return of Christ. Though Sacralist Dominionism has spread to many circles there's a reason why it is most at home in the venue of Postmillennialism. That system does not look for the return of Christ and does not call upon its people to live in light of that. They believe He will come, but it's not something they look for. Until they manifest Zion on Earth, He cannot come. Read through the New Testament and try and find that mindset. It's not there (1 Peter 3). It's quite foreign to the New Testament because in fact it rejects the Apostolic hermeneutic and reads the Old Testament in Judaized fashion in a way very similar to the Pharisees.

Not all Christians are going to be inclined to study these things out. That's between them and God. We're all at different places and stages in life. We all have different mentalities. We have different gifts and ways of serving the Body.

Some will be content with a casual understanding. Others want more and to understand the patterns and systems operating in the world, for their own benefit and toward a hope that they can truly 'discern' and help other believers. It's not for everyone nor is it required.

But for some, some wrestling with their place in the world, how to live, how to be faithful, then these are questions they must think about.

This is why I read and think about these things. I write to share my thoughts and observations and it is my hope that others will benefit from what I have written and be provoked and challenged to think more deeply about these questions and study the issues.