Monday, October 15, 2018

A Real Life Hunger Games?

Entertainment, like art and music, reflect the culture from which they spring. There is no getting around the fact that television has become a cesspool of Leftist propaganda, immorality, and downright depravity. Of course, this hasn’t just hit our screens. These culturally destructive attitudes, ideas and behaviors have been increasingly introduced over the years, such that now it is no longer shocking to see sex scenes between couples (including homosexual and lesbian couples), extremely graphic violence, and the glorification of non-Christian values. Well, we’re in a whole new realm of depravity now. Last April I became aware of a Russian television show set to begin that had critics referring to it as a real life Hunger Games.
Game 2: Winter, is set on a remote Russian island where temperatures will drop as low as -58 F during filming which lasts nine months. Fifteen men and women will compete in a struggle for survival with only a knife, one pair of warm clothes, and whatever survival gear they choose. The most frightening thing about this “game”? There are no rules against violence, rape, murder or anything else they may choose to do. While the producers warn that the police may choose to prosecute, the fact that they’ve left the door open for such criminal and immoral activity is a sad indictment indeed. 
With 1.7 million dollars up for grabs, as well as personal survival in the most harsh conditions, disaster may be inevitable. How did we get to this point, that such potential brutality has become a source of entertainment?
Television reality shows are literally filled with examples of people mistreating each other for our entertainment. For example, Real Housewives of L.A. features several women, each as hateful as can be to each other, their interaction sometimes erupting into violence. We could also take the case of Janelle Evans, a star of the reality show Teen Mom 2, who was arrested for beating her friend Brittany Truett on video over a boyfriend. Truett, attributing Evans’ behavior to her appearance on the reality show said, “Since she got on that show, she has a big head. She’s been angry at the world.” Other notable violent acts in reality TV programs are: Jersey Shore– The petite female cast member Snooki was punched in the face by a man, and on The Real World Seattle– Stephen slapped female cast member Irene in the face without provocation. And, as most know, many of these programs contain gratuitous sexual acts, almost as if they were written in to the show to keep viewers watching, and they may have been.
It isn’t just reality television that bombards us with such images. Other television programs do so as well. Some of the most violent have been:
• Stalker– A woman is burned alive in the first five minutes of the pilot, and it gets more violent from there.
• Hannibal-Replete with disgusting images of gore and cannibalism.
• American Horror Story– Featuring Twisty the Clown, a gory character who treats us to murder scenes and even a beheading.
• Game of Thrones– Every sort of depravity imagined, from rape to incest to violence.
• The Following– Serial killers, kidnapping and torture, drinking victims’ blood. One critic called it, “one of the most violent…series ever made by a commercial broadcast network.”

I could also step on some toes and point out that such sporting events as Bellator and the U.F.C. are little more than modern versions of the gladiatorial games of the Roman empire. You might recall we Christians were often forced into those arenas for the entertainment of the prevailing pagan culture. I can already hear some of my readers attempting to reason that these sporting events are different. "I mean, they’re just sports, right?" I’m sure the Romans who enjoyed the games had similar justifications for their love of such entertainment. I mean, Christians were criminals after all, right?
“The gladiator games are prepared so that blood may gladden the lust of cruel eyes…”- Cyprian
“Yet they call these “sports”, in which human blood is shed!”- Lactantius
Indeed, these Church Fathers provide commentary from their time that could easily apply to many of today’s reality television shows glorifying violence, as well as the many other sinful actions. In our depravity we watch these programs and sporting events to fulfill the lust of cruel eyes, and perverted hearts and minds. We think ourselves civilized, we pay to see these acts of violence and/or tune in every week to see who is cheating on who, and then we go to church like nothing happened. Are we really living the Gospel if we indulge in such "entertainments"? I rather think that in this age of Cultural Marxist dominance we are far more barbaric than we might wish to think- even we Christians. “Over-civilization and Barbarism are within an inch of each other. "- G.K. Chesterton
In the wake of such “entertainment”, can we really be surprised at the dramatic rise in violence, sexual promiscuity, unwanted pregnancy, abortion rights activism, politically charged violence, and disrespect for basic human dignity we see today? People are fed a steady diet of entertainments that not only destroy any sense of right and wrong and truth and falsehood, but also of proper conduct and respect for others and themselves. My suggestion is to block such programs and other forms of entertainment from your home entirely. Teach your children what it is to live by Christ’s rules of human conduct.
A teacher of the Law asked Jesus:
“Teacher, what is the greatest commandment of the Law?” And He said to Him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
-Matthew 22:35-40

What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? Does that mean I can beat my neighbor for stealing my significant other away, or say cruel and hurtful things to someone I feel has wronged me; or get into a caged octagon and choke him out for cash?
No, loving our neighbor as ourselves means we seek their highest good, just as Christ sought our highest good. Nobody’s highest good is found in cruelty, physical violence, or placing them on a deserted island with no rules, no morality other than a cold survival at all stakes.
This Russian reality program has helped reveal the depravity of humanity. When money means more than even safety, mutual human dignity, respect, and decency the problem runs deeper than the television show. It is a heart problem, and only Christ can adequately address it.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Self Realization III: The Identity and Origin of Self

"With the possible exception of the equator, everything begins somewhere."- C.S. Lewis

In our quest for self realization, we have to define self. As we have touched on previously, we tend to think of self in terms of name, family heritage, ethnicity, country of origin, employment, relationships to family members, etc. These are all correct in their respective experiences, but not in the ultimate sense, which is what we are trying to get at in regard to self realization. As Materialists want you to believe you are simply an animal, any question of self realization would really end there, since your self would be a momentary blip on the face of nature with no true value or meaning. A very dark and dour worldview indeed, though the Materialist may try to lend existence some manufactured form of meaning which only further confuses the issue, since they find it in- surprise!-material things alone. If indeed you are just an animal, abstracts such as love, compassion, self-sacrifice, peace, and friendship are all merely illusions. Interestingly, many eastern religions teach a similar approach to the material world. For them, the world itself is illusory, and our relationships with one another are simply designed to help us avoid our true identity, which varies depending on the school of thought in question. 

The word self actually refers to our objective existence-our objective created identity. All of those other definitions we apply to ourselves are simply various layers of understanding self, much like peeling an onion with all its layers. At the very center of our identity is the ultimate objective self. We can make some minor changes to the Cosmological Argument and come up with the following syllogism as an aid to understanding our self.

Anything that begins to exist, has a cause.
Humanity began to exist.
Therefore, humanity has a cause.

We have already examined the claims of the Materialist (evolution) and found them lacking, but we do agree with them on one point: humanity had a beginning. Let's think on our syllogism for a moment. What is the cause of humanity, if not evolution? Considering the complexity of the human mind and body, the cause would of necessity be complex itself. Since we are beings of personality, this cause would also need to possess personality, since personality could not be generated from impersonal energies. As personality is the characteristic of a person, this in turn means this source must be a Person. In order to be the cause of something that began to exist, this being must have preexisted what it creates. And since we have a concept of self, and understand that we possess the ability to know the self, this cause must be the Absolute Self, and we are the derived self since we are the caused. And finally, to be capable of creating humanity with such complexity, precision, and attributes, this cause must be all powerful. The conclusion one reaches is that this can only describe God. So what does this mean in our quest for self?

"Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."- Genesis 2:7

This biblical data confirms our philosophical conclusion as to the origin and core identity of self. We are, in our very essence, a living soul. This is our self. This should not be confused with the eastern concepts of self identity, which deny the material is of any value, as the material is considered illusion. In eastern philosophy, we misidentify with the material body, while Sacred Scripture takes a more balanced, reasonable position: we are living souls, comprised of both a material body and an immaterial soul, which is what makes us "living".

We also know from Sacred Scripture that God eventually ceased from creating. (Genesis 2:2-3), which means that, after the creation of Adam and Eve, the living soul is no longer directly created by God, though it continues to have its origin in His creative act. How is it then that all the living souls from that time forward appeared?

God commanded the first man and woman to be fruitful and multiply. In other words, to have children; to procreate. This means that they were to generate offspring after their own kind. Logically this would include all the characteristics common to the parents, including being a "living soul". Thus we have obvious evidence of, and can conclude that the immaterial and material aspects are both generated from the parents during the procreative act.

This then is the identity and origin of self.

-More to come...

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Self Realization II: The Question of Identity

Why does it feel like something inside? Why is all our brain processing-vast neural circuits and computational mechanisms- accompanied by conscious experience? Why do we have this amazing inner movie going on in our minds? I don't think the hard problem of consciousness can be solved purely in terms of neuroscience.”- David Chalmers, NYU Philosophy Professor 1

The question of who we are is intimately linked with the question of what we are. We can all readily see that we are beings of body (a human, biological form), and mind. The question we have to really answer is, what is mind, or consciousness? If I were to ask you who you are, your answer would likely begin with, “I am...”, and then proceed to describe some aspect of yourself. Usually it is answered in the following ways:
  • I am male/female
  • I am human
  • I am (fill in personal name).
  • I am black, white, asian, hispanic, etc.
We will generally answer with biological descriptives, or personal names. The problem is, none of these actually answer the question. Sure, they give me biological information as to your physical identity, but never address who that “I” is answering me. Perhaps we need to ask, who is the “I” that perceives the material world and comprehends it? Who is the"I" that is aware? Is this"I" just the effect of matter; complex electrical impulses in the brain? When you experience good food, a beautiful sunset, or pleasant music, is it just the body that is experiencing? Is it just the tongue, the eye and the ear? Is this"I" at all distinct from the body?

As we noted in the previous article, Materialists (Atheistic Naturalists) reject the transcendent. What this means is they are exactly what their title says- purely Materialists. As Materialists are proponents of neo-Darwinian philosophy, they believe that humanity are simply animals. To be sure we are, in their opinion, highly intelligent animals, but animals nonetheless. As journalist Annalee Newitz put it:

"Even though you are reading this on a sophisticated electronic device, you are an animal. That's the most radical idea to come out of Charles Darwin's groundbreaking studies of evolution, and even today, it still freaks people out." 2

If indeed this is true, then we should see an overwhelming amount of evidence that demonstrates similarities. And while Materialists will offer said evidences, they are all limited to the biological- the material- and we have already noted that we need an answer that accounts for the I that is observing these biological facts. Once we begin to discuss higher topics, such as consciousness, the Materialist is forced  into all sorts of intellectual contortions, since it is clear humanity stands quite apart from the animal kingdom. Human consciousness establishes a very profound distinction that cannot lightly be ignored. 

You are able to ask the existential questions we have previously mentioned. It does not, however, enter into the mind of the pig to question whether there is anything more to life than the pig sty. It never occurs to the dog that life has deeper meaning than to chase cars and bark at strangers. We do not doubt that animals have a type of consciousness, but it is clearly of a lower variety, expressing itself as instinct. 

Even if we look at the biological evidences we see that humans are quite distinct from animals. Our brains possess qualities that no animal brain does, which makes us far more intelligent and creative. We have the ability to speak through a complex vocal system. Using the brain, we can observe things at will, contemplate a wide variety of interests and issues, make abstractions and think about spatially and temporally remote objects. Our bodies are so equipped that we have been able to master our environment, harness the elements of the natural world and create a higher standard of existence through the various sciences. We find nothing even remotely comparable in the animal kingdom. Obviously we are quite different from animals, no matter how desperately the Materialist would deny so. 

Again, what we see here is the utter failure of Scientism to offer us any answers that meet the criteria for truth. G.K. Chesterton wrote of evolution:

"Evolution is a good example of that modern intelligence which, if it destroys anything, destroys itself. Evolution is either an innocent scientific description of how certain earthly things came about; or, if it is anything more than this, it is an attack upon thought itself. If evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism." 3

The Materialist would have us ignore all evidence to the contrary of his "man as animal" theory, and simply stop looking for truth, since they claim to possess it in absolute quantity. It is one thing for us to doubt our preconceived notions (such as those held like religion by the Materialist), but another thing altogether to doubt the existence of transcendental truths given the evidence of transcendental realities.

"A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed." 4

We should never allow the Materialist to reverse our thinking, and make a proverbial monkey out of man. If we embrace their worldview, then life is reduced to an animal existence. We live merely to eat, sleep, procreate, and defend our little territory just like all the other animals in the world.

-More to come

1PBS interview, Closer to Truth, 2016
3 Orthodoxy
4 Ibid

Friday, September 28, 2018

Self Realization I: Materialism and the Existential Questions

Self Realization (noun)- Definition: Fulfillment of one's own potential.

“In the divine Scriptures, there are shallows and there are deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim.”- John Owen 1

Everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or age, has at some point asked themselves the existential questions. It may take longer for some than others, but rest assured, the questions will be asked. Who am I? What am I? How did I get here? Why am I here? Is there meaning to life, or are the Atheistic Naturalists correct when they say life is ultimately meaningless? These form only the groundwork for even deeper questions of human existence. Those who actually pursue answers eventually find even more troublesome questions. Questions like the following.

Am I just a highly evolved animal?

Am I just the body?

Is my mind a product of electrical impulses in the matter of my brain, or am I something beyond the material body?

What is consciousness? Is it evidence of the soul, or is it just an effect of the brain, a purely biological function?

Is there a God?

Our world today is filled with voices, each claiming to know the answers to these questions, each offering opposing viewpoints. They cannot all be correct, since they contradict each other, so how do I discern truth from falsehood in this cacophony of voices? It is indeed very difficult to know who, or what, to believe. To begin our quest, we first have to eliminate those sources who truly cannot offer anything to us in terms of answers to these existential questions. After all, we are discussing self realization here, and so we must turn to the best teachers we can find. As self realization is defined as "fulfillment of one's own potential", the existential questions have to be answered first, since until one has an understanding of who we are, what we are, where we come from, and why we are here, any notion of fulfilling one's potential is futile. You cannot fulfill the potential of that which you have no understanding of.

Currently, the most popular voices in the confusing milieu of competing ideologies that is modern society are that of the Atheistic Naturalist and the Post-Modernist. The Atheistic Naturalist is perhaps better known as a Materialist, as he rejects any notion of anything beyond or above the material world. There is no room for the transcendent in the mind of the Materialist. All is a product of nature, and nature itself of the cold, chaotic processes of evolution. G.K. Chesterton recognized as far back as 1920, that many were, in effect, worshiping science, and thus were transforming science into a philosophy of life- a religion. We can call that religion Scientism. This religion rejects any claim of miracles, any argument for the existence of God, and any evidence of a human soul. These things are the height of absurdity to the adherent of Scientism! They are regarded as the primitive superstition of humanity that inhibits the advancement of human society, keeping it from fulfilling its potential- a collective self realization. For this reason, religion- all religion- must be opposed on the grounds of a claimed love for humanity. This is why such organizations as Freedom From Religion Foundation exist.

Richard Dawkins is perhaps the most well known proponent of this new religion. Consider the following statements he has made that exemplify this Materialist worldview:

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” 2

Faith is the great cop out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.” 3

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” 4

Dawkins, like his fellow Materialists, labors under the misapprehension that those asking questions, and who are led by those questions to spiritual life, are discouraged from understanding the world. Furthermore, his comment regarding there existing no good or evil, is flat out Relativism, which is the operative philosophy of Post-Modernism. 

The basic premise of Relativism is that there is no absolute truth, and thus, morality and ethics are relative to the current culture. In fact, those who propose this philosophy take this to the next level by further stating that all moral beliefs are nothing more than cultural norms. Euthanasia, for example, can be viewed as right or wrong only within the context of a given culture at a given time. If a culture legalizes the euthanasia of the elderly for the perceived greater good of a community, then it is morally acceptable to have the elderly euthanized. It could also be viewed as a moral good for the elderly to request such for the good of the society. In other words, whatever is legal is considered moral.

The fundamental flaw in this line of thought is that, since there is a great diversity between cultures, and these cultures change constantly and often conflict with one another, this actually points to an objective moral truth. Simply observing a cultural norm is not evidence or proof that the observed action is moral or good. To make such a claim means that a culture could make any action moral simply be the power of legislation. Just because the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that it is okay to murder an unborn child, this does not make that action moral. Likewise, just because the Supreme Court ruled that gays can be married, this does not make such unions moral. Perhaps more to the point for the Relativist, we should point out the racial hygiene laws of National Socialist Germany. Under these laws many crimes were committed, yet if we accept the premise of Relativism, we cannot call these actions evil or bad. They were simply laws that were seen as benefiting the community. The Relativist would be forced to accept such actions as moral for that time and place. The wildly divergent ideas of what is right and wrong that exist in various cultures do not provide anything objective, but leave one in a state of ignorance as to what is truly right or wrong, moral and immoral. A thing that is moral today may be immoral tomorrow. This would mean that a culture would be proposing two opposing sentiments as truth, either one is wrong and the other right (and thus objective moral truth exists), or both are wrong, and objective moral truth is simply not yet realized by that culture. Indeed, the same could be said of two different cultures, each adhering to opposing views on a given moral issue.

Relativism is part and parcel of the Materialist religion of Scientism, of which Dawkins is arguably the foremost apostle. It assumes that what should be is, based on what is. For example, if a culture practices the torture of women, then that action is assumed to be right because that is what is happening naturally in the context of that culture. Perhaps this is one reason some Atheists support and turn a blind eye to nations that practice suppression and commit atrocities against women. It also explains the resistance to the preservation of any given culture, nation, borders, etc., since these things would simply be relative to time and influence and possess no objective value, and thus would naturally change. In their worldview , they simply view these crimes as a natural experience of those particular cultures.

Scientism makes many assumptions that are clearly fallacious. In its failure to reasonably explain the origin of the cosmos, human origins, morality, ethics and in its rejection of truth, it actually lends support to the obvious conclusion that there are objective truths, morals and ethics. And if objective truth, morals and ethics exist, then this in turn argues for the something that transcends the material world. This is really what those like Dawkins want to avoid, since they would then be accountable for their actions and attitudes both in this life and in the afterlife. This means that, like many other philosophies of our modern world, Scientism is not equipped to answer the existential questions. It is not the role of the sciences to address such questions. The sciences are meant to understand only the material world; biology, physics, geology, medicine, etc. are only equipped to handle issues of a material nature. Thus, when it is misused in a feeble attempt to address the existential questions of humanity, it can only fall extremely short of providing meaningful answers. The physical sciences cannot tell you who you are, but only how your body works. They cannot tell you why you are here, only the process of procreation. Science cannot answer the question of the existence of God, but merely witness to the incredible complexity and precision of the cosmos we exist in. And yet, many share Dawkins' worldview, and reject any notion of miracles, a soul, any transcendent meaning of life, and absolutely of God. G.K. Chesterton wrote:

The believers in miracles accept them because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them because they have a doctrine against them.” 5

It is abundantly clear that Dawkins and those who think like him, have a doctrine, though they would perhaps deny it vehemently. Chesterton goes on to note the innate insanity of the Materialist approach to the existential questions.

As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of the madman's argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything, and the sense of it leaving everything out...His cosmos may be complete in every rivet and cog-wheel, but still his cosmos is smaller than our world.” 6

The Materialist has, as Chesterton notes, a miniscule cosmos in which he lives, albeit one of his own imagination. He cannot entertain seriously questions that arise naturally and logically in the minds of those who sincerely seek understanding. Certainly the Materialist can use scientific terminology, and appeal to scientific findings, but as these only speak to the material world, and not to questions of a transcendental nature, they are completely relying on a sort of faith- ironic as that is.

-More to come

1John Owen (1616-1683) was an English Nonconformist church leader, theologian, and academic administrator at the University of Oxford.
2Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
5Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter 9
6Orthodoxy, Chapter 2

The Heresies of Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning has been a favorite author of many evangelicals for some time. Such well known figures as Michael W. Smith, Rich Mullins, Michael Card and Max Lucado praise his writings. When a pastor friend quoted his 1990 book The Ragamuffin Gospel, it was obvious to me that something was quite wrong here. The quote, an antinomian statement in defiance of both church history and scripture, reads:

Rome is burning, Jesus says. Drop your fiddle, change your life and come to Me. Let go of the good days that never were - a regimented church you never attended, traditional virtues you never practiced, legalistic obedience you never honored, and a sterile orthodoxy you never accepted. The old era is done. The decisive inbreak of God has happened.”

There is so much wrong with this statement it is difficult to know where to begin.

First, "a regimented church"; The historical record of the church demonstrates it has always had a certain regimented character. A character which, despite the protests to the contrary, is one which has ever increasingly been abandoned by some Protestants in pursuit of an egalitarian church that never really existed in anything but their imaginations.

Second, the notion that one should abandon traditional Christian virtues which one never practiced is absurd. If one never practiced them, then one can hardly abandon them. Also, to advocate the abandonment of those virtues is to echo the exact same advice of the Cultural Marxists. If anything we should be calling people back to traditional Christian virtues.

"Legalistic obedience you never honored". The first observation I have of this phrase is this; obedience is conformity to a certain standard. Biblically speaking, it is conformity to God's Word. If indeed one never honored that demand for obedience, how could one be called "legalistic"? Also, I find that the word legalistic is often used in Modernist Protestant rhetoric to cast aspersions on those who take seriously God's commands and refuse to violate their conscience. Just because God has demanded something of me in my relationship with Him that may be keeping me from something detrimental to my spiritual life (and not necessarily yours), does not make me legalistic.

And finally, the notion of a "sterile orthodoxy" is absurd. Orthodoxy is "right thinking about God". It is by definition impossible for orthodoxy to be sterile. If there is sterility it lays in the one who does not take seriously the need for orthodoxy, despite apparent signs of life. What Mr. Manning is advocating here is a "fertile heterodoxy". To place such sentiment in Jesus' mouth is dangerous. The "decisive inbreak of God" is what established the very things Brennan disparages.

This made me curious to know more about this man who is seemingly so popular. What did this man, who wrote of God as the “kooky God”, believe? What do his books really say? I was shocked when I actually looked into it, since his books can only be described as psycho-babble and heresy all rolled into one. What I found is a man who rolled the false teachings of Carl Jung (who was heavily influenced by the occult), Beatrice Bruteau (a New Age teacher who teaches the divinity of Man) , Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, and Pierre Tielhard de Chardin (a proponent of Evolution and the Modernist heresy) into one massive ball of theological heresy.

By way of examples, allow me to share Manning's explanation of the story of the woman caught in adultery, found in John 8. Manning writes on page 167 of The Ragamuffin Gospel that Jesus did not demand of her any change in her life, but rather He, “didn't seem too concerned that she might dash back into the arms of her lover.” This is one story Manning uses to disregard the orthodox biblical teaching of avoidance of sin. Of course, Manning completely ignores the fact that Jesus commanded her to “Go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11) It also ignores the fact that Jesus was consistent in his command to avoid willful sin, as in John 5:14.

In Manning's theology it does not matter what one does with regard to sin. One can continue to lie, cheat and steal, so long as he believes in Jesus. He shares a personal story of having met a woman who aborted her baby, a practicing homosexual, and an active prostitute, all of whom were happily unrepentant. And yet, somehow, they are all saved in his view. (The Ragamuffin Gospel, pgs. 32-33)

Manning's theology is nothing more, nor nothing less, than a personal rationalization that allowed him to continue in his alcoholism, which destroyed his marriage and ultimately took his life. Those who find in his writings anything other than heresy are either misinformed or are looking for the same sort of easy grace, wherein God winks and smiles at our sin. This false god Manning created in his own image is not holy, not all powerful, and certainly not just. He is a cosmic buffoon desperate for the attention of His creation, who cares less for their holiness than He does His own needs. In short, it is not the God of the Sacred Scriptures.

The God of Sacred Scripture is just and holy.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways..”- Psalm 145:17

Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy.”- Psalm 99:9

While God certainly receives us as we are, He loves us enough not to leave us that way. He commands holiness of life and obedience. This is the true gospel. Ragamuffins are invited in, and transformed into the sons and daughters of the Almighty, not permitted to continue in the muck and mire of sin.

Perhaps someone should have told Michael W. Smith, Max Lucado and the others this instead of allowing them to get away with promoting a pagan hedonistic ideology under the guise of Christianity.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Apologetics and the Ruins of Post-Modernity

I had an interesting discussion with my good friend and mentor, Dr. Mark Bird, this past weekend. He read a post from a college professor at a Christian college who suggested that our approach to apologetics is dated, and does not meet the demands of the Post-Modern culture, as that culture is steeped in Relativism. This got me to thinking about this issue more. Does the current culture require a new approach to apologetics, the defense of the church, as it is traditionally studied? My short answer is, yes and no. First, we cannot start from the same point as the Relativist, since to do so destroys any notion of objective truth. Thus, we have to engage the Post-Modern by literally teaching them how to think, since this is something they have been robbed of in college classrooms around the world. Once we help them understand the nature of truth, and the objectivity of truths, then we can move on to the traditional apologetic arguments, which they would not be in any position to grasp were they to be left in the limbo of Relativism. I also think it is important that our apologetic training begins to address the common arguments against the church specifically. I would suggest an approach similar to G.K. Chesterton, who addressed the underlying presuppositions behind most challenges to faith.

We can all obviously agree that the church has taken a beating of late, with scandals arising in the media, and some less than proud moments in our shared history. Also, the fact that there are so many denominations, each claiming to hold to the truth has been cause to challenge our truth claims. The Post-Modern will challenge us by saying, “How can you claim objective truth when you yourselves can't agree on those claimed truths?.” These church specific accusations call for a proactive apologetics. A defensive apologetics is when we assumes a low profile, shoulders hunched and head tucked, murmuring an apology for being Christian who loves the traditions of our faith. A proactive apologetics is what Chesterton demonstrated. Using his approach, we could respond to the aforementioned objections by first accepting their objections, at least at the beginning. This might take them aback for a moment, since they likely view us as backward dolts, or as not being intellectually equipped to accept the progress of culture; or we are not conceptually competent to understand Post-Modern thought, etc. Let’s take these objections as they come, and reassure our Post-Modern friend that we are not against them, at least not right away. Then answer with the following: I do, however, get the impression that you're bolstering your position with a caricature of us, which allows you to keep your positions unchallenged. The challenge I put to you is to know whether this picture is genuine or not. Would you be willing to examine why you rely on these stereotypes? Are you really so sure of yourself, and why? You wonder how someone can be a Christian today. And I ask you how you can be an atheist/agnostic (fill in the blank) today. When we look at the situation, and not at stereotypes, we can see that what characterizes Post-Moderns is dispersion, disintegration–anything but unity. Yes, there is division within the church and always has been, precisely because division is a human problem. There are as many churches as there are ministers, and perhaps as many creeds as congregations. And this is not without connection to the state of contemporary society in which we find a growing absence of social unity since there is no longer any common good that transcends individual selfishness, nor any recognition of objective truth by which  to establish unity. It is everyone for himself. The individual is his/her own king, and is a perfect, and solitary, totality, as conceived by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 

At this stage, it is important to help the Post-Modern realize what the state of the modern world to which the Church should, for some strange reason, continually adapt itself to actually is. Tell him bluntly that Post-Modern culture is anemic, and that anemia is self imposed. Deep down the Post-Modern knows this to be true. That is why they are so attached to their stereotypes and slogans, not just of Christians and the church, but of their political adversaries. They have a genuine need to reassure themselves. But our apologetics approach must prevent them from anesthetizing themselves to reality. 

We must then ask the question that logically comes at this point: how can you still be a Progressive/Post-Modernist, when there is no real unity, no recognition of truth to base said unity on, and the culture is doomed to failure as a result. At the very root of the Post-Modern worldview is autonomy, freedom, the refusal of order, duty and anything transcendent. It is Man who takes the place of God, but it has to be obvious today that Post-Modernity is in a state of absolute and total decadence. For the Post-Modern to insist on holding onto to this worldview of death and confusion while it is collapsing all around them, is literally insane. Post-Modern culture cuts man off from all transcendence, from God and from reality. Thus, the Post-Modern invents over 100 fantasy genders, denies the objective biological fact of masculinity and femininity, denies that the unborn are human and worthy of protecting, while advocating the death penalty for those who cut down trees and demanding we accept the fantasy identities of a people lost in a lost culture. Post-Modern man has the illusion of living autonomously, without dependence on any superior, exterior authority, but this illusion is fatal. And Rousseau’s perfect individualist is a horrible farce. Marcel De Corte spoke of “the intellect in danger of death”– it is no longer a danger, it’s a reality. From this standpoint, apologetics is exciting. Cracking the books and taking notes is not tedious. We find ourselves today in a critical situation that imposes on us a duty to go to the aid of people in very real spiritual and temporal danger. Apologetics today needs enthusiasts, and not anesthetists. Minds and wills have to be awakened. Practically, to do this will require demonstrating that its attachment to absolute freedom, which is the characteristic of the Post-Modernist, is what is destroying them. That is the heart of the problem.

At the beginning of your conversation, we accepted the stereotype used to add strength to the Post-Modern rejection of Christianity. But now it’s different. He begins to notice that it is perhaps he who is in an untenable position, because he sees that health, equilibrium, and order are on the side of Christianity and the cultures that have been built on it. At this point he just might see the church, not as a useless institution of oppression or an institution lacking unity, but as a solution, a remedy. Such an intellectual conversion, such a change of mind, is what our apologetics must try to press for. At the conclusion, the time comes to say to our Post-Modern friend: You started out by asking me how I could be a Christian. Here's my answer: because I am a dissident; a true revolutionary; a counter-culturalist to Post-Modernism. I don’t mean the dissidence of political conspirators–the sort of people who try to establish an enclave wherein they lord it over the others. I mean a vertical dissidence in the midst of a world immersed in itself. The kind of dissidence in which the mind adheres to God, the author of the natural and supernatural orders, resulting in our being in the world but not of the world.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Cultural Marxism and the Racist College Campus

What many know as the Progressive Movement and Globalism are in actuality the products of the Enlightenment, which today take the form of Cultural Marxism. This inherently revolutionary ideology is alive and well on college campuses in both the United States and throughout Western Europe. The ultimate aim of Cultural Marxism is the eradication of all cultural differences in favor of a global mono-culture. All unique national identity and borders, anything and everything at all reflecting Christian values, morals, and ethics (which means everything uniquely European), must be dismantled. The end result, though they would vehemently deny so, is the enslavement of all peoples to a Global State wherein they are reduced to simple production-consumption drones, mere economic units with little to no recognized inherent value in any metaphysical sense. The New Age Movement, one of the "spiritual" deceptions of Cultural Marxism, refers to this desire in the terms of a “higher consciousness”, which once achieved by the occult adept allows them to understand the philosophical truth of everyone and everything being interconnected and interdependent, while subordinating individual identity and the right of individuals and nations to self determination to the so-called "common good". Those who dare dissent are labeled “racists”, “divisive”, “religiously intolerant”, etc. The college student, who has his ability to think severely inhibited by Leftist professors, will have achieved this higher consciousness, when he/she no longer views one culture or social outlook as superior to another culture or social outlook. The main effort of the Cultural Marxist on college campuses then, is to brainwash the student to both view his own culture (i.e., Western Christian culture) as the embodiment of all that is evil, and consequently, assume a mental stance of “openness” to foreign and often antithetical values present in other, non-Western cultures. This is in no way to suggest that other cultures have nothing to offer in terms of beauty, music, etc., but that one need not destroy one culture to recognize the value of another.
In fact, this openness actually demands the Western Christian revile his culture and religion with a vehemence that can be called nothing but self hate. We can see this in the Leftist media, where young people are compelled to constantly apologize for the perceived evils of their race or national origin, and indeed to apologize for their very own existence in some cases. In this radical Leftist worldview all cultures are celebrated as superior to that established by Western European Christian peoples. And while they march in Washington demanding the freedom to kill unborn infants through abortion, demand that illegal immigrants be free to violate our laws, freedom is actually used as just one part of the agenda to take away all freedoms. Notice how this is demonstrated in their behavior toward their critics, whom they demand be silenced by all means available, even violence. Consider for example the young Latina woman who appeared on CNN saying,“There will be casualties on both sides. There will be, because people have to die to make a change in this world…” Or we could look at the example of the Black Lives Matter movement, who had members calling for the killing of white people and the confiscation of their property on the basis of “reparations”. 2 And the Berkeley Campus riots are a very clear expression of the hate, violence and contempt these revolutionaries have for those with whom they disagree.
“They came in a military fashion, they were well rehearsed,”, said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof on the night of the protests. “They seemed armed and dangerous.” 3
A Marxist Curriculum
As with all Leftist egalitarian goals, this process of “equalization” seeks to “level the playing field,” or make “fair” traditional cultural institutions that can reasonably be considered superior to that which is being elevated. The Cultural Marxists achieve this result by introducing courses into the college curriculum which both exalt other cultures and, most importantly, focus on a propaganda that promotes the idea of the absolute evil of Western Christian culture. You might think that the Leftists would be frustrated in their attempt to exalt the so-called “suppressed and oppressed” non-Western cultures, basically because the facts of those preferred cultures clearly affirm their inferiority in many respects, or that students generally aren’t all that interested. Or perhaps one might think students would see the obvious great works and great advancements of Western Christian culture on their own and recognize what a farce the propaganda of the Left is. This sadly is not the case. This is due in no small part to the woeful lack of education in the topic of Western Civilization.
The National Endowment for the Humanities reports that it is possible to graduate from 37% of American colleges without taking a course in history, from 45% without taking a course in American or English literature, from 62% without taking any philosophy, and from 77% without studying a foreign language. Indeed they state it is now “extremely rare” to find students exposed to a core curriculum in Western European civilization, even at major state universities and the elite Ivy League universities.Not only is the average American undergraduate seemingly unfit, and definitely uninterested, in such expanded cultural “awareness,” but the very purveyors of Cultural Marxism, the university faculties, are themselves obviously uninterested in any serious study of the ideas, habits, and customs which make up the content of Western European Christian cultures. They simply do not fit the revolutionary ideology of the Marxist cabal.
Race and Cultural Marxism
One of the most powerful tools in the Cultural Marxist arsenal has been the accusation of racism (leveled against those of Western European heritage), and advocacy of minority racism. Despite the facade of racial equality these Social Justice Warriors claim to represent and defend, real racial discrimination is often allowed on campus in certain specific forms. These colleges allow racism from the minority population since the ideologies of the Leftist groups these minority racists represent helps promote their Marxist goals by denigrating Western Christian culture and manufacturing an oppressor  class (whites) and an oppressed class (minorities). For example. Dr. Leonard Jeffries, chairman of the Afro-American Studies Department at City College of New York, is well known for his claim that whites are biologically inferior to blacks. Dinesh D’Souza in his book Illiberal Education: the Politics of Race and Sex on Campus cites the college newspaper The Campus as stating:
African American scholar Leonard Jeffries claims that whites are biologically inferior to blacks….Adopting an evolutionary perspective, Jeffries told his class that whites suffer from an inadequate supply of melanin, making them unable to function as effectively as other groups. One reason that whites have perpetuated so many crimes and atrocities, Jeffries argues, is that the Ice Age caused the deformation of white genes, while blacks were enhanced by “the value system of the sun.”
There were no protests of Dr. Jeffries views, and almost certainly if there had been protests they would have been denounced by both the university and the mainstream media as “racist.” jargon against a successful black leader. Dr. Jeffries was subsequently asked to co-author a multicultural curriculum outline for all New York public schools. Ask yourself the logical question. Would a conservative minded Christian of Western European heritage who has a high view of his own cultural history be asked to do the same?
Another example is that of the “Students4Justice” of the University of Michigan who have demanded that campus officials provide them with a no whites allowed area, claiming they need “a space solely committed to community organizing and social justice work specifically for people of color.” 4
High schools are not immune to this problem. One high school has vowed not to purchase music by white composers for its band. 5
And lets not forget perhaps one of the most racist statements to recently come from a Leftist educator. Adam Kotsko, a professor at Shimer College in Chicago, claims that all whites are complicit in American slavery. He writes, “Whether or not your individual ancestors owned slaves, you as a white person have benefited from slavery and are complicit in it.” His solution? Simple. He says we “should commit mass suicide.” This professo, who is is teaching our children, goes on to claim that whites “exist solely to legitimate the subordination and exploitation of other races.” 6
There are many practical consequences of the Marxist anti-Western Christian ideological pogrom. In their drive to implement the numerical appearance of equality on the university level, college administrators have engaged in “affirmative action” programs in which professors are hired and students admitted not because they are the most deserving or qualified, but rather, because they happen to be female, African American, Hispanic, or Native American. Interestingly enough, Asians rarely benefit from such programs, probably because they are not in the pool of potential recruits for the Left and by and large tend to be conservative. This systematic disregard for academic qualifications, along with the proliferation of anti-Western courses has resulted in a decline in academic standards and achievement. Nothing else can be expected if students and faculty are not chosen based on the quality of their minds, but rather their gender and skin color. It should also be noted that African Americans who identify as conservative rarely benefit from these same programs and are often ostracized by the predominant Leftist African American subculture.
In a 1989 survey of 5,000 university faculty members by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching they found “widespread lowering of academic standards at their institutions.” This hasn’t changed in 2017 and the decline is only partially masked by an equally “widespread grade inflation.” Moreover, a review of 25,000 student transcripts by Professor Robert Zemsky of the University of Pennsylvania showed broad neglect of mathematics and science courses, especially at the advanced level, and an overall “lack of depth and structure” in what undergraduates study.
Relativism, which now characterizes the moral outlook of almost all American undergraduates, has been an invaluable tool in this Leftist agenda. For example, when you meet a self proclaimed Christian student he never attempts to defend or support the intrinsic veracity of the doctrines which Christians hold to, but rather, is content to say that “this is what I believe” and “other people believe other things and are equally right,” therefore, we can never know who is right or wrong. Thus, the primary virtue becomes “tolerance”. “Tolerance” for the Cultural Marxist is defined as accepting the opinions of others as absolutely true and valid for them, which itself does violence to the very concept of truth. Truth is that which corresponds with reality. There can be no “my truth” or “your truth”; there can be only THE truth, which is objective and absolute. This tolerance for relative “truths”, however, is not extended to those deemed “intolerant” (i.e., Christians, people of Western European heritage, traditional minded women, etc.) by the Cultural Marxist elite. The same student who will tolerate Louis Farrakhan calling Caucasians devils, or the New Black Panthers publicly putting a hit out on someone as in the Trayvon Martin case, or who excuse the current political leaders of South Africa who are engaged in the theft of farms and homes from Afrikaaners; or who see no problem with Black Lives Matter adherents calling for the murder of whites- the same “tolerant” Social Justice Warrior will quickly turn vicious on a Christian group sponsoring events on campus, or offering thanks to God at their graduation, or a fellow student who simply supports President Trump. 7
What Can Be Done?
Is there any way we can reach the minds that the Left is so very good at brainwashing? We can, but the fact is we have to at the same time resurrect the culture we wish to teach them. The Western Christian culture, with its emphasis on high cultural pursuits (manifest as an orderly society producing beautiful music, art and architecture, and life enhancing and saving sciences) is the core of what made our nations great. We must find ways to transmit the fullness of that culture to our children again. Our children must be taught that it is okay to be proud of their heritage (and that such pride should never take the form of racism), to recognize and stand up for objective truth, and never allow themselves to be enslaved by those who would make them hate themselves, their faith and their culture. We must expose our children to these great ideals as expressed in traditional Western Christian art, music, customs, festivals, manners, and behaviors. Faith is the best vehicle for this, since it is faith that is behavioral. The Chistian Faith is our spiritual connection to our past, a timeless participation in the spirit of our forefathers who fought for our lands and that faith, who sacrificed, bled, and died to secure them for future generations. If we want to render our children immune to the revolutionary ideology of the Cultural Marxists, we must teach them by example how to live the beauty of our Western Christian heritage, by first and foremost teaching them to live and love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must place within their hearts an awareness of God and His hand in our lives and in our shared future. Intellectually we must teach our children to identify with those who have cultivated all that is good and life supporting in our past and not to accept the racist lies of the revolutionary Left nor of the Alt Right. After all, we are all created in the image and likeness of the one and only God, and every Man who shares our faith and convictions has a share in our culture, no matter his race.