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At the risk of seeming a bit verbose, I humbly submit the following:
- Evil exists. In the classic Christian worldview, sin, death, disease, the devil, and the like, are real. All of humanity and all of creation is affected by this. There is not one aspect of life that has not been affected by what we in the church call “original sin.” Until Christ comes to restore all things, we should expect evil things to happen. Now, that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a pursuit of truth, justice, mercy, etc…, but we should be prepared to be disappointed if we are looking for “heaven on earth.” No political candidate or political system, no amount of lawmaking, court decisions, media awareness, dialogue, educational system, economic opportunity, or the like, will solve or eliminate the problem of evil. The purpose of government is to restrain evil, promote the good, and protect the life and property of its citizens. As Chesterton said, “Once abolish the God, and the government becomes god.” Looking to flawed people in a flawed system to fix a flawed world will always result in despair and disappointment. The ultimate solution to evil is found in a manger, a cross, and an empty tomb. However, we do have a duty to expose, confront, and at times, eliminate evil when it appears for the love of neighbor, especially from the “kingdom” that wields the sword (government).
- Worldviews matter. Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? What should we do about it? Can you answer these questions in a coherent and systematic way, and by doing so, account for what is observed in the world? How you answer these questions will lead you to better understandings of things like natural law, justice, freedom, the purpose and role of government, etc…If we can’t agree on the answers to these questions, how can we agree on what things like truth, justice, or virtue are? If we have very different understandings and definitions of these words, our conversations will be nonsensical. If you believe that all of the world should be under the banner of Islam, your answers to these questions will be different than one who holds to classic Christianity, or secular progressivism for that matter. Beliefs have consequences, and not all beliefs or actions are equal or beneficial.
- We are living in an era of both transition and dissolution. For centuries, western civilization operated under certain assumptions about the universe, man, the rule of law, and the pursuit of truth and virtue. These assumptions, such as a created and rational universe, a fallen but redeemable humanity, and the pursuit of objective good and beauty, are no longer held by most, and in fact are under attack in some quarters, and have been for several generations. When this happens in a culture, there are “growing pains” or perhaps “death pains,” and a constant sense of anxiety and uncertainty. As communal beings, all us of crave a sense of “connectedness” and purpose. By removing the foundations, people fall and flail and lash out to try and grasp at something that makes sense and creates a form of cultural coherence. Because the west has emphasized a sort of “privatization” principle about anything important (keep your religion to yourself and only on Sundays), what used to unite communities is now a pariah. Rather than a common language, music, history, religion, virtue, calendar, etc…we now are supposed to find our identity in amorphous principles of “democracy,” “rights,” or “equality” without any sort of coherent worldview and culture. In fact, trying to create or preserve such a culture is considered “intolerant” or “bigoted” or (insert-prefix)-phobic. So we want the benefits of thousands of years of cumulative western civilization, but reject the reasons for that civilization. And we wonder why we are anxious, confused, and divided? Should we wonder why we can’t seem to confront the rise of “political Islam” or “Jihadists” in any systematic way?
- The good news is that this level of cultural chaos and volatility is simply unsustainable. Bad ideas, bad decisions, and bad philosophies will die, and the truth will have its day. However, it is certainly possible that things could get much worse before there is any sort of “revival” or cultural renewal. In history, this sometimes came because of significant war or complete economic collapse (often both). While we can remain hopeful and prayerful that we can avoid something of this magnitude, we need to honest and realistic about the challenges ahead. So let’s start working on our worldviews as we confront evil, pursue truth, and winsomely present that worldview and culture that made Western Civilization such a potent force for good.
And finally, remember that in the end, a broken world isn’t our final destination anyway, since we also believe in “the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come” (Nicene Creed).
Like the previous item outlining the beginnings of a Christian worldview using John of Damascus (and outlined here by this site’s Statement of Faith), it is sometimes worthwhile to remind ourselves that our beliefs and worldviews have consequences, and that some worldviews are simply incompatible with each other. I have highlighted several news/current events items in order to demonstrate the continuing lack of cultural consensus, and how there really is a “war” or sorts going on, both in the U.S. and throughout the West, especially against orthodox Christians and traditionalists.
University Shuts Down Christian Groups as “Discriminatory” for Requiring Leaders to Be Christian.
While I could provide several other examples, it is clear that the current secularist and pluralist worldview is increasingly hostile to the classical Christian faith of the West, and that Christians and traditional-minded Westerners should be prepared for it to continue. Gird Thyself!
“Law increases as cultural consensus decreases.” I encountered this statement in a review of James Hunter’s recent book, “To Change the World,” found in the latest Touchstone Magazine (which is highly recommended by the way). This eerily echos David F. Wells, who in his book “Losing Our Virtue,” talks of a sliding scale of absolute freedom and absolute autocracy, with the lack of virtue leading to the latter. In other words, since we now live in a “low consensus society,” we are now held together by the secularist state and the increasing powers that belong to it, and little else. Since there is no longer any consensus, “every faction that seeks state power does so in order to impose its understanding of the good on the whole society.” (Hunter Baker, Touchstone) This is why moral issues such as abortion and homosexuality have been increasingly politicized, as worldviews compete with each other. Humans inherently desire some sort of order, and the lack of cultural consensus causes many to look to a top-down legal solution to provide some sort of order.
This also relates to a question I asked in a post quite awhile ago, relating to whether or not America is even a nation anymore, or a variety of nations held together by geographic accident and state control. If a nation or people is defined as those who share a common faith, heroes, history, holidays, festivals, language, the arts and the like, the U.S. and many countries of the West have ceased being nations long ago. Instead they are supposedly bound together by some sort of romantic, “progressive,” idealistic idea of egalitarian democracy as a sort of savior (based on an ever-increasing list of rights that come from “natural” sources). While there may be pockets of what one might call consensus cultures, most large cities on the coasts and the states they reside in have abandoned any semblance of cultural unity for the sake of “diversity” as some sort of inherent value.
In summary, as the West increasingly abandons its own heritage, look for a great increase in the amount of litigation and legislation to try and either “preserve ” or “change” society, while individuals and communities become increasingly “tribal” in order to foster some sort of healthy, culture-sustaining community. Those who try to do this, will of course be labeled “bigots,” “racists,” “______phobic,” etc…Perhaps we will see the rise of city-states/principalities again?
Any comments or solutions?
One of the sessions that I teach regularly is entitled “Worldviews At War” found in the “notes” section of this website. An idea that starts to become prevalent in the ultramodern era, and in certain postmodern circles as well is the idea of the autonomous individual, accountable to no authority but the self. This means one can simply choose everything that one does or is, including one’s own identity, regardless of the created order, Church, Scripture, tradition, family, or any sort of societal norms. Choice in this case is inherently virtuous, and the consequences are immaterial, or privy to one’s private interpretation of truth. This is of course at variance with the Christian and Classical worldview, and leads to increasing levels of evil behavior being praised as “diversity” or “choice.” As noted in the post on modern chauvinism, if you oppose such evil, ultramodern “progressives” label you as “bigoted,” “intolerant,” “unaccepting,” etc…, which brings me to this disturbing news item:
“As two transgender bills (AB 433 and SB 48) are poised to be passed by the California Legislature, at least one elementary school in Oakland is already indoctrinating kids starting in kindergarten about “gender diversity”…Young children are being taught that they can choose to be a boy or a girl — or both. Boys, for example, should be comfortable wearing girls’ clothes and nail polish, etc. And there aren’t just two genders, there can be a range. And, of course, the school does not allow parents to opt their kids out…”
The report goes on to state that this program is a “necessity” to “help kids,” and if you oppose it, you want kids to commit suicide. This sort of tactic is called “ritual defamation,” which is one of the main tactics of modern chauvinism, and is used to silence those who defend the Christian and Classical West. Do not be deceived, this is indeed a war, and it is being fought over everything from the education of children to the arts. You may find the rest of this report here, with video evidence of such “diversity” indoctrination taking place.
War is being waged for the heart and soul of the West. What are you doing to be involved?