Thursday, March 14, 2013

1 Chron 12:32 report, 110: On the significance of the new pope in the midst of our civilisational struggle

It is not news that Protestant and Roman Catholic Christians have had a rather contentious history over the past half millennium, with not only hot words, but blood spilled. 

(One fervently wishes that we would have more of a listening, discerning spirit and less of rage in our responses; much harm could have been averted, and desperately needed reforms would have had a much easier way. And, such lack of love manifested in how we deal with one another is nothing short of treason against the gospel of the God who as to his essential nature is just as much about love as he is about the truth and the right. I therefore must first call for repentance leading to renewal and reformation in light of the revelation of God in Christ, the Faith once for all communicated to us through the witness of the NT church and recorded in the NT Scriptures, before even saying what this remark is mainly about.)

However, we face an epochal event, important in itself as the largest, oldest single organisation on our planet has just had a major leadership change.

But it is more than merely a matter of news, this is a change at a time when our civilisation is riven by a major cultural struggle, within with the De Christianisers, and without in the face of radical IslamISM, in both the Jihad and the Dawah forms. 

Accordingly, it is significant that this new pope has taken the name of a man famous for a vision: "rebuild my church," and noted for a ministry of concern pivoting on love, indeed, one who crossed the lines in the crusades to call to love.

Gary Baur makes some notes we should observe:
Catholics and evangelicals (and to a lesser extent orthodox Jews and Mormons) have formed a formidable partnership in recent decades against the threats of secularism, relativism and Islamism. 

Doctrinal differences remain, of course, but the Catholic-evangelical alliance has reshaped American politics. In many cases, Catholics have provided the intellectual framework and vocabulary to discuss Christianity's vital role in our democracy, while Protestants have contributed fervor and youth. 

We do not agree on every issue. But on the essential ones -- those both faiths consider "non-negotiables" -- Catholics and evangelicals are allied. 

We both champion the idea -- the truth -- that there are reliable standards of right and wrong to which all institutions, including government, must adhere. We stand together in proclaiming that all human life has equal dignity and worth. And we stand together in defending the traditional and time-honored conception of marriage as a union of one man and one woman . . . . 

the West is suffering from what can be called a crisis of brokenness -- broken institutions, broken families and broken souls. In a society in which there seem to be fewer citizens who understand where our liberty comes from (God), strong churches -- evangelical and Catholic -- are essential. 

As an evangelical, I was delighted that the last two popes were moral and theological giants. Together, John Paul II and Benedict XVI gained many evangelical admirers by preaching against the "culture of death" and the "dictatorship of relativism" and for a "culture of life."

And, as Catholic theologian George Weigel argues in his new book Evangelical Catholicism, John Paul II and Benedict XVI introduced a new "evangelical" period for the Catholic Church -- an era in which the Catholic Church offered a confident rebuttal to the false promises of the secular world. 

I don't mean to downplay the real and significant theological differences between our two faiths. But Catholics and evangelicals need to remain allied, and in solidarity, against the increasingly aggressive secularism of our age.
  Baur, of course, has not spoken to the challenge of IslamISM in details, but he is right on the essentials. 

I would add, that Plato, long ago in The Laws, Bk X [360 BC], put his finger on the core flaw of radical evolutionary materialist secularism that made it fail two thousand years ago, and which cuts to and tears the heart out of the secularist challenge today:
Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors:  (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

[[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny. )] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them. 

In short, secularism, for all its scientific pretensions, is against knowledge and ends up in the absurdity that might and manipulation make right. It is self-refuting and it is nihilistically amoral and absurd.

I would also add, on IslamISM, that the Achilles' Heel of the IslamIST thrust is history, not just the history of the surge of aggressive IslamISM that largely carved out today's core Muslim bloc out of regions that had been Christian for centuries, but more fundamentally it is forced by Quranic declarations, to deny one of the best attested facts of all history: that Jesus of Nazareth suffered crucifixion and death under Pontius Pilate.

For now, I simply highlight the points.

DV, in upcoming days, let us follow them up and see how we can use these to equip ourselves so that we can answer to those who challenge our Faith, as to the reason for the Faith we have. 

And, in so following up, let us also reflect on how we can and should work with cultural allies with whom we do not necessarily agree on even very important things.

We have to hang together now, lest we be hanged one by one all too soon from now.

For, if our civilisation goes down, the consequences -- for all of us -- of a new barbarism in a new dark age (perhaps triggered by Electromagnetic Pulse attacks that in a few hours could strip our civilisation of most advanced technology, leading to a devastating collapse . . . ) will be too horrific to bear. END