Sunday, October 23, 2011

And the Band Played On

"I believe that pluralistic secularism, in the long run, is a more deadly poison than straightforward persecution." - Francis Schaeffer

Could it be that as a culture we are more susceptible to the intellectual attack than the direct attack of traditional persecution? Undoubtedly. Each culture has common threads, but each culture is also unique. One of the unique qualities of our cultures is the lack of direct persecution to the Christian church in our country. But yet, as a country, we are anything but vibrant in our outward belief in the Gospel. So how has this happened if we were not scared into silence?

The long answer is that we have been drawn away by a thousand glittering distractions. The short answer is that we have turned our attention from God to ourselves. Everything has become a tool to grow our pride. As C.S. Lewis pointed out via Uncle Screwtape, we have developed a horror for the Same Old Thing. Everything must be new and exciting. We no longer know how to appreciate sameness, tradition, or something that does not entertain. Everything is old instantly; sometimes before it has even been fully explored. It's no wonder so many people "church hop". It's little wonder people turn from hot to cold faster than if they had been thrown head first into a freezing lake. Perhaps far too many Christians look for the novel and forget the reasons for permanence. God never changes; shall we get bored of him as well? Unfortunately far too often, this endless restlessness gives rise to heretics who gladly offer something "new". And the crowd runs headlong, ignoring the old, often repeated warnings of the Bible.

If you were Satan, would you not find this weapon more affective than traditional persecution to cause the church to become impotent ? It is like a constant drumbeat in the background of our culture. It encourages us to live for ourselves. It tells us to "believe in yourself".

"The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums...believing in himself is one of the commonest signs of a rotter. Actors who can't act believe in themselves; and debtors who won't pay. It would be much truer to say that a man will certainly fail, because he believes in himself. Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness." -G.K. Chesterton

Yet we attempt it anyway; believing in ourselves to our own ruin. Believing in ourselves to the complete exclusion of God. Doing things by the grace and strength of God has no meaning to the one who truly believes in himself. Chesterton was right. An asylum is full of people who whole-heartily believe in themselves. You could not rationally talk them out of their fantasies, because to them they are the essence of reality. But how different is it with us as a culture? How many times do we try the same remedies for the same problems, or argue about the same thing ad infinitum? But we believe in ourselves! Look at all the good that has done us. Believing in ourselves has convinced us that our neighbor will be the one to object to the further cultural rot, not knowing that he is also thinking the same about us. Believing in ourselves has caused us to turn aside when opponents to the Gospel would seek to abolish its reference in any public place. Believing in ourselves has allowed the media industry to transform into the depravity of ancient Greece. Believing in ourselves has bred an entire generation of people who believe they are accountable to no one and everyone else exists to work and benefit them.

Believing in ourselves causes us to forget God. It is time we start to believe again in our Holy and (thankfully!) gracious Lord.

"The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits. " -G.K. Chesterton

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