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THE PLACE OF FACE IN GRACE
Asininity, Profanity and
Christ with Pellucidity,
Peace and Regality
The Australian, April 4-5, 6, 2009, p. 8
BLASTING THE BASIS
An article in The Australian, April 6 may be the best case of absolute confusion one has seen in recent times in the moral-secular-religious-challenge series. Certainly, it will have rivals for the post; but there are here the makings of something forward in the field of the abysmal. It is not chiefly the article per se which evokes interest, but the genre which it represents.
The argument seems to involve a number of implicit or explicit proposition. Firstly, based on the misconception that in general churches some generations ago were concerned with a 'core business' of "offering practical moral guidance to citizens, easing the dilemmas of their workaday lives, and aiding them in their journey to the other world", proposition one in this listing, he moves to another. The next is that churches tend to present their clergy as "moral astronauts".
For this to have any logical bearing, it would need to be at least a fairly general feature not merely of some one church or so-called church body, but of a significantly large grouping of them. The points tend to be cohesive, and hence need to be considered for logical articulation.
Moreover, for the derogatory reference*1 in this article, to 'desert fathers', to have much point at all, it would seem to be an outlandish and odd reference to such as Moses. Now that prophet was in fact famed for the 10 commandments given by God along with much more on what is right for man. However, since Moses began his manhood as a prince in Egypt, this derogation seems rather a listless attempt at defenestration by selective phrasing.
Actually, Christian churches, as distinct from innovative spiritual institutions making their own Christ (prototype visible in II Corinthians 11 with inspired apostolic comment*1A), are interested in Christ, the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:26), and His redemption. It is not centred in God, and only derivatively on man. The former defines the latter, not vice versa. Indeed, what IS vice versa is biblically characterised as the very acme of error (II Corinthians 10:12). This is the basis and in these terms are to be found its results, not in mental imaginations, partial endorsements or mutative by-products (Philippians 1:20ff., Galatians 6:14, Colossians 3:9-11) and their applications.
The last is good to exhibit more directly:
"Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge
according to the image of Him who created him,
where there is neither Greek nor Jew,
circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free,
but Christ is all and in all."
Actually, CHRIST is the basis of Christianity, the acme of aspiration and the deluge of grace, and HE is no moral astronaut but the express, definitive image of God, the eternal WORD of God, set in human form for divine purposes (cf. Hebrews 1-2). Astronauts are forbidden (Matthew 23:8-10), for in lowly service the commission is given; to be sure, mixed for power, but this for the purpose of the Gospel and the word of God, not for selfish interest. If many fail, many do not. The Bible remains the criterion (cf. Appendix C and D of SMR), and Christ the central figure in salvation (Ephesians 4:11-16*2). He PAID for it. You don't need to discover by moral astronauts, however much some bodies attempt the farce; Christ has come and IS the truth (John 14:6). Not only is nothing else permitted (and NO competition is authorised - God has nothing to compare), but it would be ludicrous, the finite to teach the infinite, rather than reaching Him by His grace with relish at the gift (II Corinthians 9:15).
Next for consideration, seemingly anomalous here, is a far more apt reference to the tendency for moral ingredients to be injected by some in churches, at the political level, when economic finesse, in the view of the writer of this news article, is what is more to the point. In this, there is right and wrong. It is true that economics, though much over-loaded with significance in its frequently found and often contradictory world views, does have at times at least, some reference to reality; and that someone who has studied it might at least have some possibility of making a useful contribution to world finance. But in what area ?
In moral precepts used as rules of the game, as Sarkozy and others evidently think ? Is it to be in some secular pseudo-morality, whatever the source, and is it this indeed which should be added ? Their point has some pith, but its basis being excluded, its usefulness is likely to detract rather than add to felicity. In this world, the most innocent seeming ad hoc solutions are often underpinned by the most guilty devices, so that Nazism and Communism*3 come from what has some measure of appeal to some, and end in what is so disgusting to heart and reason that it is hard to recognise any earlier appeal in the latter devices and dynamics, for which hell would seem the only fitting end-product for such verbal romancing and ludicrous failure.
The idea, as so often has some point; nor is it new.
BUILDING THE CASTLE OF AIR
ON FOUNDATIONS OF IRON
ANY game or competition or sport, any congregation of interests seeking fulfilment in a given FIELD, has need of organisation. It might be, a thing that seems to fascinate the writer of the article in view, a place for self-interest, even ostensibly enlightened SI; or it may be for fairness, or for justice, or for a workable mode of human relations in general, applied to this field in particular, or morals from God in a verifiable manner, or allegedly from Him in a way that is not so. It varies. Possibilities with catastrophically (on the one hand) and seraphic (on the other) results have a veritable army to offer.
Thus the relevance of accountable morals is intense, contrary to some of the apparent implications in the article. It is immense. IF the banks had NOT given away ludicrous amounts of inadequately vetted credit, on absurd or no basis, and had not used their desire for profit, in many cases at least, as supervening any MORAL or even prudential consideration because of the apparent safety of gaining large surpluses in such ways, and if people had not joined in the wild spree, vastly over-using money that was not their own, on dubious premises which turned out to be false, as well they might: then the situation would at least have been massively better.
Often citing the ideas of Adam Smith, another of the inconsistent religious-economic pseudo-evangelists, as in some way perceptive, he likes the idea of making this self-interest business a valued tool if not wand in economic affairs. It is, of course, a moral without doubt if ever there was one; but it is one in PRACTICE omitting the God of the Bible, held high in the land of Smith's day. It appears as in some way to be affianced in this approach exhibited in The Australian, as being at least verbally connectible with the Sermon on the Mount!
If then, the writer wishes to denigrate the objectivity of the morals of the God of the Bible, and their relevance, or to put them in his 'place' partly in terms of a sadly inept misconstruction of the explicit statements of belief and intent made by many churches several generations ago, then what ? This becomes parallel to an effort to put them out of their own biblical place; and can insidiously even lead to the suggestion that the Sermon on the Mount is not so far from the views of Smith, famous for enlightened self-interest. In the process, he has two gross errors.
In fact, the purpose of the Churches of the Reformation at least, in a broad generality, included far more important elements than those he features and focusses, however sardonically (and his misrepresentation makes such sardonism seem relevant, by the juxtaposition of two errors, in tandem).
It was to TELL THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH about God, man's state and status, the divine diagnosis of man and the inevitable necessity for man in terms of the moral and spiritual nature of God, to climb down off his high horse, repent, seek pardon for disgraceful misconduct at the spiritual realm (not even KNOWING its Maker and the Saviour, but flagrantly departing from His ways, morally, spiritually and intellectually), and to apply righteous living in ALL realms of life. A glance or two at the Westminster Confession for example, or the 39 Anglican Articles might be helpful here. These were representative, in significant measure, of two of the most massively present Church bodies in the England of Adam Smith, the economist in focus.
Thus the idea of enlightened self-interest being nearer than infinitely different from the Sermon on the Mount seems conceivable to the news writer; whereas no two bodies of morality could be further apart.
BLACK AND WHITE WEDDED IN THE DARKNESS OF NIGHT
The one is interested in what may be done with the world as it is, and that may indeed be regarded as a political nostrum since the world IS as it is. Ideals are not actualities in it, in general. The other is concerned with PERSONS being UTTERLY different (cf. Ephesians 4:17ff., 2:1-12) from what they currently are. It is indifferent whether the disease be moral self-elevation because of this or that work, or degradation because of the absence of the same. It is disease AS LONG AS the Creator is not personally known, His mandate for remission of sin is not personally utilised, His grace is not recognised AND APPLIED (hypocrisy is not welcomed by God as seen for example in Matthew 18:23ff., where failure to be forgiving by one forgiven became a vast issue with swift judgment).
The concept of making one's little self the moral centre of the universe, or at least as good a one as that of any or even all others, is utterly removed from the Gospel of Christ, the teaching of the Bible.
If anti-biblical theories are to be the same as biblical ones,
if self-advancement is to be the same as crucifixion with Christ (Galatians 5:24),
if laying down your life is the same as taking it up Luke 14:27ff.),
if seeking your own advantage is equatable with seeking the will of the infinite God and loving your neighbour as yourself,
if the love that shields is the same as the push that prevails (John 15:9-14),
if an imaginary invisible hand that helps selfishness is equal to a rebuking God who detests the aim of self-advancement (Matthew 16:24-26, Luke 22:25ff.),
if self-sacrifice in love is thrust for gain (Matthew 25-28),
if the spirit of leaving all for Christ is the same as gaining all you can for yourself
if disregard of your neighbour is the same as loving him,
if words are a vehicle for confusion only and have no relevance to truth,
and if that itself is truth:
if indeed folly is reason and sacrilege is sanctity, then why not say anything!
After all, it would in that case mean nothing; and that, it is the rational standing of such verbal fusion.
It is a ludicrous, a rebellious, almost a comic departure. It is more blessed to give than to receive, said Christ. Why is that ?
It is in order to give your life for the welfare of others in the will of God and the work of His body, a thing He loves; and this thrust, it is to occur when even that is not good enough, for it must be done in love, WHICH DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN (I Corinthians 13). Is then that self-interest ? It is definably its contradiction.
Someone hostile to Christ might twist the truth to the point of arguing that the value of real estate in heaven, so to speak, is worth the value of any lost here, because it endures. You get this association of disparities with those who have no knowledge of the Bible, or fail to apply it.
Let us examine such a tissue of confusion as that would be. CHRIST is the criterion: His disciples follow Him (John 10:27ff., John 13). Did HE operate, as depicted, Lord of eternity, Creator with His Father (Colossians 1) of all things, by accepting the restraints accorded to His creation, of time, space and pain, horror, mockery and misrepresentation by those with imprisonment powers ? Assuredly He did. Was it then for personal gain that He lost ? Was the putting aside of power the same as its augmentation ? Does utter felicity become infelicity by gaining something ? Can you increase your wealth by dispersing it, and make the infinite more by putting yourself in a plight of plights, in order to win some of a gain-crazed, self-bemused, much mutually misused race, filled with many parallel features ?
MUTATIONS OF MODEL
Such is mere mutation of model and invention of a new religion: it has nothing to do with the Bible, the Lord's Christ, but everything to do with modelling in clay, what is formed of sacrifice, sanctity, spiritual grace and the love that gives.It is in the most literal sense, a mere literary and logical impertinence.
Such is its nature. In fact, of course, the so-called invisible hand imagined in the Adam Smith depiction helps relate supply and demand, but does not give quality to the nature, the ground, the inveterate thrust of the demand, its springs of action or its wings of performance. Nor does it sanctify supply, its grounds, assumptions and motives.
Thus, even if there had been more rigorous laws in view in the recent financial melt-down, when it seems private people wanting more instant satisfaction for the self, took huge risks made palatable by idle dreams, and banks often served them with disregard of care in the interests of present profit, yet the pressure to gain and amass would still have sought other ways, like the fat of someone bulging trying to wear a scanty garment; and inventions of modes would be found to indulge quick return, immoral monetary devices, and laws would be sought to circumvent the restraints, or overturned to enable them, that self-interest of the most irrational kind, and self-will of the most blatant, might create conditions fitting for vanity, vice and aggregation at all costs.
This, it is not an argument for non-restraint, but for non-doping of the mind with the illusion that supply and demand constitute any kind of wisdom, adequate aim or useful provision, at the ultimate level which runs the minds of many, conditions their thoughts, gives wings to the imagination for their ultimate self-fulfilment. They are servants along the course; useless for its construction.
You can go to the opposite extreme to godly grounded freedom, and have a governmental authority as in USSR in its day, and sacrifice anyone and anything which does not fit your delusion*3 . Such is mammon, self-interest, authoritarianism, the triad of jaded intemperance. They seek or are controlled by this or that fallen power; but Christ is the ground of the one, or it fails; and the precise opposite (*4) of the other, so that it has failed already.
His provision, in the kingdom of heaven, is one that each person either enters or avoids, a milieu where persons and truth and reality and the mutuality of all people as creatures of God obtains: where each one is a concern of vast importance, while self-sacrifice and love become basic criteria. Here salvation is the expression of a love of which this world knows nothing as it seeks to exploit even its kindnesses for advancement and name and image, important ingredients of market rise or political dominance.
Far is this from an attack on liberty or on the value of free-working forces on a moral basis that enables freedom to be real, rather than illusory, and to be maximised rather than taken captive by cunning; it is a critique of carnal licence, amoral ramblings and endeavours to invent what are but pseudo-morals in which the ground, drive and basis being missing (cf. SMR Ch. 4, News 19), they become mere claptrap for more sinuous and sinister devisings of exploitation, through one extreme or the other, factious, meretricious, without merit and chaffing on reality.
You cannot change those elements without a change of heart; and to try to amalgamate morality and advancement of selfish interests is mere confusion and obfuscation, delusion and contradiction not only of the model of morality, of Christianity which gives it objective and demonstrable basis*5, but of the nature of man as a co-operative and collegiate being. Law cannot reform him, though it may convict; licence cannot alter him, though it gives opportunity to show the wonder of his free creation in the image of God. Thus it supplies not only the power to be independent (within the limits of the construction from the Creator, and the Creator of the construction itself), but the scope to despoil its wonder, riot over its rationality, spit on its spirituality, make gimmicks to delude from godliness and use verbal cover for raids and expropriation by cunning and deceit.
RESTORATION OF REALITY
The Creator is not at all in the exploitative business, nor is His morality anything invisible, being written and applied for millenia. His enemies do not change their hearts, for it is He who saves some; but His friends need to be aware of this double-talk and delusion. The love of God in its absence if the ultimate cause of the woes of pathology of spirit, mind and body in man, sometimes directly, at times by many indirections. What then of this love ?
His love is to give. Does He have a LACK, or is there ANY needed or desired feature (for NOTHING limits the God of the Bible, Luke 1:36, Psalm 115), in Him! Naturally not (cf. Psalm 50:7ff. - cf. Sparkling Life ... Ch. 4). He being WHAT HE IS, with no oversight, limitation or constraint but what He desires, which though it be good, is nevertheless found in Himself: does this become gain by having many such lacks ? God's donations may produce more in some, but in the many they are despised, or declined, so that the loss is appalling. Liberty and love together however have the kingdom of heaven, God in the midst of it, and sacrifice is the sound into which the vessels of victory sail.
The Christian is not someone swapping pain now for glory then, on an arithmetic basis, or any other that is based on self, because as Paul puts it "I am crucified with Christ." The dead are neither manipulative nor massifs of mastery. As for the Christian, enmembered in Christ, the spirit of his activities is oppositely contrived, directed, impelled, constrained, seeking security in reality, not in appearance, in the God who gives, not the sinuous self that seeks its own, and speechifies to create mere image.
The desire of the biblically defined Christian is the glory of Christ and it matters not whether pain or execution be the way, for this is in a basic sense irrelevant. It is to bring an entirely different perspective into place, one far less related than is the surface of the moon to the manner of life of Eskimos on this earth. God is INTRINSICALLY to be desired, for him, for her; and is loved, being immortal, eternal, spiritual, beautiful in holiness and deadly serious in dealings, loving to give, while giving to love its power, grace and felicity.
Without the love, this species of organisation and headship is abhorrent to many, who would in the end, prefer the hell of separation from their manufacturer for ever, than to live in the odious confines, as they would doubtless conceive them, of the God of creation, lordship, peace and love. They WILL to apportion to themselves what they can; are not interested in a kingdom where authority rules, judges, and for them worst of all, KNOWS them inside out; and make markets of the quality of their desires, whatever their words. How often you find in the very midst of corruption charges, the evasive tactics which prolong the grabbing motif in its power, long enough to reward with riches unmerited the grasping hand of the manipulators!
It is useless to try to take over world power, as will be done ultimately, and not so far in the future as the New World Order lifts its unimpressive head with more and more hope. This merely changes the mode of the insufferable, the unspiritual, the resentment creating, envy-bearing, hideously corrupt surge of little selves into their own valueless nirvanas. THIS, it is not the answer, but the corruption of man, the loss of morals (the REAL decline in the 'market' of life), the abuse of law, the pulping of biblical principles in politics, these things together with the bestiality of wanting CONTROL, these will surge to the best way to perpetuate, were it possible, the abuse of man by man, for it is far easier.
This world will become in large measure, in this way, in a little while, when the efforts of Hitler and Stalin are superseded by more sophistication, and if possible, more devious deception of a sprawling, bawling multitude in the disgrace of self-seeking - a domineering despotism. Many refuse to believe it, though in my own time, two nearly triumphant efforts have been made from two countries to achieve just that. The amount of power available readily now is such, as even little North Korea is rather vainly (so far) trying to show, is such that any effort becomes a nightmare for the worldly, and an impetus to world dominion and control (out of self-interest).
THE DEVICES OF DOUBLE DEROGATION
Thus we find a double derogation: many churches are stripped of their MAIN feature, when viewed some generations back (cf. Galatians 6:14), their main objective, of its supernatural nature in the model in view, and the moral element in Christianity is made to appear at least assimilable to something so different that this could only be called, with some measure of justice in type, a defenestration of a straw-man, which does not even pictorially, let alone spiritually, resemble what is in view.
To be sure there are secularising movements in some of the mutated churches (and the concept of looking back several generations, though too far for the need, is one thing not entirely astray, though what is there to be found is far from that depicted in their Bible, and in the Reformation creeds of many, which are sufficiently available, famous and cited). These are coming close to being assimilable with blatant worldliness and some points in self-interest. Mutational morality is now high in many Churches, or more correctly religious organisations as they are increasingly becoming, such as the Anglican and especially the Uniting, though there be dissension.
What experience gives is becoming more and more a criterion, often seen in polymorphic seduction into the sybaritic, into fulfilment in sensation, rather than what the Bible says. The doctrines of devils and seducing spirits are in fact becoming so common in many formerly sound churches, that it is a marvel of divine prediction that so it would be.
As it was to be, so it is (I Timothy 4:1ff., 3:1-5, II Timothy 4:1ff., Acts 20:26-31, Matthew 24:5-13,24).
The news article under review here, for its spiritual aspects, is merely one secularly oriented intrusion from without, into an effort that would in effect join forces with the corruptive forces defiling so many 'churches'. It is thus a two-ended assault, or in other terms, part of the pincer-claw movement with is being brought to bear, to break down the morality of God's righteousness and substitute an economy version, short on truth, morality and clarity, which becomes a new wand for the whirling world. Here the spiritual and the carnal, the power of man seeking to put its own lower power over the higher power of God, becomes the new criterion; and words become, in all their transparent irrationality, a mere means to an increasing degree, of that confusion which breaks down the sight of the enemy (here the biblical Christ), so that many follow something else in the swirling dust of deviousness or deceit.
It is nothing to the point in view whether such speakers know what they are doing, whom they are serving or have classified their intentions or not. Our domain is here not the psychological but the logical, the spiritual. Many deceive; more are deceived. Many who are deceived deceive because of the deception which they suffer. It is like an infectious cough; it may indeed be no intention of the cougher that his sputum should conduct disease to others. This is not to the point, however. It DOES so by its nature.
What then as that news presentation is compared with the relevant models and facts ? The implied mutation of many former churches is indeed a fact. The visit to the climate of the past is however too pre-attuned to current movements, and the concept of Christianity is in this as far from that of the Bible as it is possible to be.
Hence of course there is almost unlimited SCOPE for confusion. The arousing of mini-morals without rational basis (cf. News 19) is merely one of the horde of spiritual infections about to become the potency of international misconduct and disease of soul and spirit, heart and in the end, mind as well.
While, then, economic expertise has some relevance to some elements of the total economic situation, yet BECAUSE a major feature is MORAL INTENTION AND PURPOSE on the part of banks and their clients, therefore spiritual morality becomes utterly relevant, It is not in the least all inchoate or incorrect, and has the potential to be utterly crucial.
If greed had not governed many persons and institutions,
if lack of MORAL GUIDELINES and rules, had become as conspicuous
as the mushroom cloud in our generation,
and this both at the individual level and at the governmental
(not to say there was nothing there, but the moral feature is the point here);
if prudence and self-control, not for gain but for proper use of resources without gambling gushes and flows, based on hope and not fact, had been brought to bear, and
if the reason for it had been an enlightened heart that sought no manipulative gain or irresponsible growth:
then that difference would have utterly altered may aspects of the crisis which came.
The lack or moral transmutation which the news article seems to indicate or even desire, is soberly fascinating, and is highly pertinent; but this is not because of the possible outcome (God by no means underwrites galavanting, nor is wild risk-taking given consent), but because of the pre-occupation which it shows. You CANNOT serve both God and Mammon, said Christ, making it clear that GAIN from such pre-occupation is irrelevant to truth for the creation, wisdom for those who love Him and the ways of peace for any. Moreover, the EFFORT to so act that this becomes a moral criterion is in itself wrong. That way and God's way are contraries, and in the end, contradictories.
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon."
Churches have a proper message about such pre-occupation, such desire for destiny, such utilisation with such a TYPE of objective.
"Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’
or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek.
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you."
TAKE-OVER BID ? THE ULTIMATE,
ITS DEFEAT VERY COSTLY!
Market manipulation for gain is not morality.
Self-seeking is the opposite type of morality to that of Jesus Christ.
A take-over bid for Christ's kingdom is utterly understandable, for its fruits in love, joy and peace are so manifest and its wisdom is increasingly demonstrable as the only one that can work in the minds and hearts and deeds of man; but such a bid is as unillustrious, as base and undesirable as any other bid for property not founded, for purposes of making use of it for alien purposes. Indeed, it is more so; for this is the property of God and sole avenue for man, who bent in philosophic binges in his own destruction, tends increasingly to resent what in fact works. Works for whom! Is it for the power hungry, the riches gathering subordinates of lust! Not at all. Then it is not wanted, just as Christ Himself was not wanted by the subordinates of Rome (or at least, was despatched, though no fault was found in Him, a monumental travesty of justice), and by the majority of the priestly power in Jerusalem.
If you want to studiously govern your assets with a view a protecting them from just such flashes and ungoverned follies as have recently occurred, then the objective ? Is it to enable you in stable mode, as far as reasonable effort is concerned, to continue to do good and serve God with all your talents ? Very well. But if it is to find the best way to make the best gain, as the life purpose, then Mammon enters, and following this becomes incompatible with the ways of the God of the Bible.
IF governments had followed something like this, then "righteousness exalts a nation" (Proverbs 14:34), since fairness of disposition, reasonableness of dealings and moral perspective that relates to the way and the purpose for which man was made, are all in accord with that goodness which is meant for man, both to receive and to give. But if the nation should become so pre-occupied with its riches, its results (and precisely this can happen as generations of a family, race or nation proceed) that it becomes governed by self-interest, that ludicrous substitute for spiritual perspective from God, that makes mini-subjects maxi-objects in perspective: then its fraud or failure, or both, will become heavy indeed.
As some 'Western' or quasi-European nations or derivatives wallow in spend-fast debt, often ignoring the spendthrift applications, and the long-term results of spending without the morality to make it meaningful in the end: they merely compromise their independence, as is illustrated by China' s recent call to the USA, to watch it in spending! That is a mild preliminary to what might follow.
Independence from other nations involves a watch on reliance on them; and if one is not of a type with some others, then if morality is dismissed, certainly one can speedily become subject to them. That is merely one of the features of moral rebellion, biblical demission, God's omission or subjection to lunatic fringe remouldings by false prophets, without ground in reason or verifiable revelation.
It is one of the pseudo-paradoxes in this field, that it is ONLY when you ACTUALLY are willing to serve God with sacrificial living (being 'crucified with Christ' is the criterion - Galatians 2:20, 5:24 - not a comfort zone in itself...), that life in its conceived design and meaning comes into focus and force. It is in fact simple, not paradoxical, when understood. Lose it for the ways of God, of Christ Jesus, and you keep it; keep it for yourself and you lose it. Individuality is wonderful; selfishness is seduction. Freedom is glorious; self-interested abuses of it are a befoulment of the whole. Result accrue if not in this way, then in that.
Release from contra-design tendencies, those which are acting to distort vision from truth into convenience, and those using man's appetites to subordinate him into a world of basic controls rather than divine directions, and biblical perspective derived from the Maker of man, and let us be clear, love (which does not seek its own), these things do bring a measure of blessing. Their trend: it DOES make life more abundant. It does it entirely when man voluntarily seeks to find and apply the will of God through the necessary salvation and heart-changing momentum from the Almighty (John 3,10).
But if your AIM is to make it more abundant as a selfish, self-interested exploit, then of course you are still the centre; God is treated in effect as a mere agent for your implicit hedonism or self-fulfilment, a commissioned agent perhaps: hence it is an illusion. Much modern religion, some of it found in 'Christian' bodies, is of this type. How to exploit divine principles to get human rewards maximised, a sort of pseudo-worldly religionised mutated mess: this has less to do with Christ than almost anything short of the devil himself.
It is not fulfilment, for a Cross does not fulfil. It is not pleasure, for pain is a quite possible result, if you are imprisoned for Christ, as are many for example in China. It is not an indirect form of exploitation, because it gains nothing if gain is the motive. Unless you TAKE UP YOUR CROSS, you CANNOT be His disciple; and that is not enough. You have to 'take it up' and follow HIM. You have even to worship Him in spirit (John 4:23-24). His way, what has it been shown to be ? It is this: having everything and giving up much in order to enable gain others so that in felicity they might become His friends, who lacks nothing being Trinity already (Isaiah 48:16).
This is the love which does not seek its own, but gives.
As is the topic of this volume, it is all a matter of GOD'S GIFT OF GRACE, as you see in Ephesians 2, 3:7-9, II Corinthians 9:14-15, Titus 2-3, John 3:15ff., Romans 5:12-18, II Timothy 1:9ff.). Grace is UNMERITED favour, actual kindness.
Self-seeking being the opposite of what is apposite in the Gospel, therefore any attempt to make it a form of what is in the Bible is like making darkness a form of light. In the sense that light is absent, it is related; but it is NO FORM of it. Light, in that case, it is simply not there!
GOODNESS WITHOUT GOD IS MERE ILLUSION
AND ILLICIT ENTRY FROM NOWHERE
FOR WHAT IS DEEMED NECESSARY FOR ALL
The concept that the largest part of what is good "in our society" relates to the Smith type self-interest doing nice things, and the like: this is not only a sweeping assumption, but an untrue one. What IS good ?
Is it wealth and power and independence among the nations, and justice and equity and self-control and love of one another ? for this, Adam Smith's concept is far off, presenting rather a vested interest in terms of self-interest. Further, such an attribution of 'goodness' is very mixed, and involves opposite moralities. What then does our society HAVE, that we might try to discern what is this 'goodness' of which the news article speaks ? We have laws not unkin to those of England with its emphasis on justice, equity and order, righteousness and truth! Is this a contribution of self-interest, rather than of Christianity which has animated some of the major contributors ? Is it this which Britain said was the book of wisdom in presenting a copy of the Bible to the incoming sovereign ?
Is the concern for the aged and the sick, derived from some kind of self-interest ? Is charity without return the same ? Is sacrifice of soldier's lives, self-interest ?
What is good in our society is not manipulation for personal gain, which can lead to virtually anything, when man makes up his own morals as he goes (including those of Hitleresque eugenics, best for all, don't you know! ... best ? superlative of 'good'), but what contributes to its welfare at ALL levels that make up the totality of mankind, and this, as a creation of God. Otherwise, reality and model in use for government clash; and when this occurs, it is always reality that wins. Disruptions in morals, society, wars, enmities, internal clashes, wild accruals of wealth while companies are wrecked by those who gain: these things are merely the continuing empirical facts detailed to the face of the model makers, in the canyons of man's corruption.
Without God, goodness is mere mirage, byproduct of thought, imagination, hope and so forth, whatever comes. It then has and can have no moral meaning, being merely an approbation based on whatever arbitrary and self-centred conceptions man may from time to time throw forth, as does the stomach, its vomit (cf. News 19).
The effects of Christianity on our attitudes towards service, justice (not self-interested legal manipulation), truth (not imaginations of a model without God and hence incapable of absolute truth, while telling us just what it is in terms of goodness and surveys of 'gods' and all*6), on ideals and vision: these are immense. They are, however, being more and more voided, as churches are departing, increasingly as predicted, from their Bible basis, and Christ as their defined Lord.
They mutate THEREFORE what they may: be it morals (so that pastors may be perverts, biblically defined - cf. I Corinthians 5-6 to the contrary with 1:1ff.), doctrines of various kinds in sects virtually innumerable, modes of speech or conduct. The continuity of perspective which had a vast grasp on MUCH of our nation for a long and benevolent period, is going fast; and its statistical sector is decreasing fast, as more and more bodies and organisations sound more and more like the thesis of this news article.
Fusions and confusions, syncretisms of opposites, this is becoming more and more the norm among moralists, church-goers and secularists. Indeed, it is a sign of the times that such an article as this here considered, with its gross misconstruction of Christianity, its nature, its constitution, its contribution and its call, indicates. Increasingly, political and journalistic sermons of this mind, based on nothing rationally supportable, cogently conclusive, fulfilling desire, mix the disparate and depart from the defining criteria.
This ? It is necessary in a way, since confusion is an extremely successful way - intended or not, here that is irrelevant - for mutation. If someone convinces you that a NEW thing is a GOOD thing based on various combinations of religious, social, political and cultural dynamics, and manages to draw confused people in the wake of this parade, hauling them on board with ropes of irrelevance, then the ride can be fairly fast.
Such things are happening, it seems in the USA, as in Australia. Europe appears to be growing weary of Rome*6, not putting it in the proposed constitution at all, and there is now a scope for something to replace a diminishing biblical interest, an increasing political drive. It looks with increasingly popular American and European regard, on the concept of a New World Order (pushed very publicly since Bush Snr. in the USA, over a decade ago).
Readily in such things, there appears an attitude of syncretising anything around that has a following and making it a part of some explosive complex, invasive of man, negligent of God, filled with its own conceits. THAT is precisely what is predicted (cf. Revelation 16, 17, 19). It is happening at a scampering rate. Like watching a plan crash, from the moment one of the wings falls off, it is almost fascinating to see the drama work out; but increasingly for all that, the sight is utterly horrible. It is out of order, it smashes goodness, in much. It is doomed in all.
DOOM AND DESTINY, GLOOM AND GLADNESS,
CONFUSION OR PEACE
Doom is a fact. Over recent years, in much verbiage, it escalates its glamour, preferring another term for its kind. The relevant data for it, these occur with graceless consistency and mounting virulence.
Consider Zimbabwe's desolation because of revenge, greed, domineering or whatever; the fate of the USSR; the war-mongering language of Putin regarding the Arctic, Georgia, Cold War resuscitation and the like (contrary verbiage adds confusion, not clarity); the colossal prostrations of the things of Christ in China, where it is claimed by some that the Christian Church now has more membership than does the Communist Party, where oppression has become reportedly worse since the advent of the Olympics; the reliance of many on funds gained by such means, including virtual slave labour from political prisoners; the slaughters of militant Islam, complete for many with marvellous subordinated multi-maiden results envisaged, in some place or other, where justice does not seem to rule. This as a reward for indiscriminate slaughter ?
Gloom is; but in heart, it need not be. It is the companion of evil. Joy is the delight of the participants in the truth of peace and the justice of God, whose day of judgment is growing nearer (Answers to Questions Ch. 5), and nearer ...
Hitler's efforts failed to induce the due doom, though he managed a fair approach to it for many millions of soldiers and victims; so too did Stalin's endeavours. But they made a significant effort and stab at it. What they DID show, it was this: how VERY far noxious capsules of inherently ludicrous philosophies can go, when they have an appeal to this or that current feature in a society, where morals fail, are mutated to will, and where these are given a polished propaganda surface. This is so, especially, if the heavy hand of authority can be turned on the populace with a combination of deviousness, 'good' intentions (if deluded) and deft scenario deployment by the 'control' hub.
As to the moral midgetry which seeks to serve itself and imagines that this is compatible with serving God, or the peace of this world, since it is objectively fallacious, serving oneself being merely a blind, short-circuit of the realities in view, this can be chosen. It can be confused with anything - just as the inherent power of the Germanic race, or the divine nature as suggested of a Japanese Emperor, or the dictatorship of some class or other, can be confused with goodness for no apparent reason. In the end, its inherent failure to bother with God, to give respect to the rational necessity and actual power and morality for our design, and in truth, of the Creator*6 , or even to see the nature of man except from the necessarily unproductive model of man as centre: this dooms it and the race.
It will invent new features, for the devil back of it all, though much loved without acknowledgement to themselves or others, by many, is not stupid intellectually, merely spiritually so. This ? it is for not bothering with God, except to seek to escape judgment and to destroy what is of God. Those who co-operate with him are not without enthusiasm, whether so intending or grossly deluded. This tends to inventiveness and doom-creation in the normal manners of history.
Now that the world is 'so small' and the power of weaponry so great, there can be little left before the tenacity of the ultimate in self-interest, TELLING the rest what to do, is reached. When God tells THIS what to do (Revelation 19:19ff.), this phase of history, this school-room for observation, this laboratory for showing the nature and follies of anti-God philosophies and politics, propositions and proposals, concludes its sensational work. What a data-base for folly, and an expressive tablet for wisdom to unfold for ever, were it necessary, in documentation of the graceless godlessness of moral and philosophic storms.
That abrupt end to this beginning is the biblical scenario (II Thess. 1-2); and the events and the confusions and the profusions of political finesse and folly, the world order concepts and the rule by dissociated morals while the God of the Bible is evacuated (in concept forcibly, but in fact only verbally): these are but means. They multiply as they will and must (cf. Revelation 13, 16, 19); and gradually romance will replace reality, and devastation romance (cf. II Thessalonians 1, Revelation 19, Matthew 24:22).
Doom ? of course. 'Escape' specifications and your car dealer will tell you of the result. Gloom ? Not the slightest need for it. Just needed is one thing: to love God with all your heart and soul and strength (and to remember this is not the same as loving 'your self', there being an infinite difference, which is a mathematical nightmare in this case), and your neighbour as yourself. This is wrought AS saved sinners and hence through those who KNOW the God they are to love and are friends with the One whom they serve. These are the principles and though perfection awaits the resurrection, the time to act is now. It aids realisation and promotes peace, while making spiritual war without violence on what deludes.
What of the result ?
That, it is pure joy, just as it the more exhibits the coming doom for the misconstructions of philosophy and politics, with a confused religious deviationism joined by impudent, arrogant and seductive false gods (who do 'good'). The LOSS thus suffered, it is most sad. We preach and teach that many might escape it. But in the end ? You remember that parable of the wheat and the weeds ? What is not only a weed by nature but by preference, it has but one ultimate result (Matthew 13:24-43).
Small wonder, in the love of God, and HIS interests, we preach as far and as much as we can:
the pathway of published peace,
proclaimed good news,
the death and resurrection of Christ
(which some in entire differentiation from fact, ignore*7),
the sanity and splendour of God
(and hence the approach to spiritual insanity in dismissing
the power of the Creator to heal, to restore, to pardon,
to resurrect what He made in the first place),
the Gospel of His grace and its onflow to graciousness,
His mercy and its onflow as in the Sermon on the Mount in SHOWING mercy,
the reality of judgment,
and hence expose
the seductive character of politico-moral-social sedatives
which are concocted from various moral sources,
either unacknowledged or blatantly meaningless,
being mere formulations of those who choose to forget their own formation from the formulations which are those of God.
On the very next publication of The Australian, another derogation of the dynamics and application of Christianity occurred. In fact, however, as so often, the biblical truth of the matter is not in either of the political or anti-political elements. RULE by Christianity is not in the current Gospel dispensation. When Christ returns, this will be seen; so many so foolishly try to ante-date this event, as in Isaiah 11 and Habakkuk 2:14, Psalm 73. There is neither need nor place for such antics (cf. SMR Appendix A).
For the time, the conversion of sinners, the aggregation of gifts in churches, the missionary elements, the love that removes the preciousness of some about gifts and restores the simple sense of service by them FOR those already Christians (cf. A Question of Gifts), the testimony of Christ in word and service IN HIS NAME (not outside it, as if it were EVER legitimate to serve Him without recognition of His presence, power and glory! cf. Luke 926), the prayer which intercepts and moves mountains, these are things of much moment, ALL being based on Christ crucified, yes rather risen and to come.
While, however, direct rule of Christianity over what is normally NOT even close to being a Christian electorate in any nation, and NOT BY A NATION GOVERNING IT, but the Lord Jesus Christ and His word, is far from the word of God for this present Age, the application of its principles and graces is not far from responsible duty for any nation.
You don't HAVE to rest on Sunday (cf. Christ the Citadel... Chs. 5 and 6), but it is commanded. You don't have to be a Christian for that matter, but it is commanded that all men repent and declared that Christ's is the ONLY name by which MAN MUST be saved. If someone does not obey, he or she is not the less in direct collision with the Creator for that; but all the more.
Thus when any nation elects, as ours has done at times to a significant extent, to import Christian based laws and ethics and order and justice, with this as the rationale, it has tended to prosper. This is not an absolute thing, since Christians are to be harassed and hounded; but where a nation so acts, there is more scope for the felicity of such principles to be seen and felt.
Christians may well 'preach' in Parliament, that is show the moral and ethical and personal perspective of Christ in issues, just as others show theirs, sometimes as if it were already an established religious event in the negative, such is the arrogance. IF the Christians have things proceed with such issues, freely given, freely received, operative, then this is going to be a blessing for many, since sensitive personal concerns are part of it, and rigorous moral rectitude is another. It is most apt for such things to occur, without ANYTHING in any way resembling a compulsion about what you believe. As to that, many Parliamentarians will be believing many different things, and applying, consciously or otherwise, their own principles.
The current catastrophic failure is not least founded on the point that even WHEN Christians in political places begin to aggregate, the desire to make impact may transcend the spiritual nature of their mission, and HENCE many Romanists and other sects may descend to make the mix not only unbiblical, but lupine (cf. Acts 20), and the testimony not only obscure, but to be proceeding from a forbidden basis (Romans 16:17).
Properly therefore, the Christian proceeds as with biblical integrity, and will surely be a blessing to the nation if he does; but he does not abase the glory of God by admixing it for statistical or voting purposes with what is contrary to the Bible, for that is merely to advance confusion and denudation of truth, by seeming to give it when it is rendered a fallacy by infusion of serious error. In all such cases, not the noxious scrambling for votes, but the well scented beauty of holiness is what is needed, for as Paul puts it in II Corinthians 2:14-15:
"For we are to God the fragrance of Christ
among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
"To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death,
and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.
And who is sufficient for these things?
For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God;
but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ."
In this passage in I Corinthians 2, Paul makes it clear that the wonders of God's grace and glory are vast; and some stop there, marvelling at the greatness. However, with Christ and the word of God which preceded His coming, there is MUCH more. These things are beyond the eye of man, these things PREPARED for man, the plan of salvation, BUT God has revealed them!
Failure to grasp this has made a mockery for many of this revelation. Not only are they categorically revealed; even the DEEP things of God are so exposed. Nor is this in theme or concept only, but in WORDS given by the Spirit of God are they deposited, these things, in the minds and to the hands of those whom God has called, prophets of the Old Testament, and the apostles and those closely associated and called, in the New.
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about
with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men,
in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things
into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body,
joined and knit together by what every joint supplies,
according to the effective working by which every part does its share,
causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."
See on Communism:
Aviary of Idolatry, Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 5,
News 37. 44, 69, 97 (the exploiters, the fanciful,
the Communists, the de-godders and the realities), 98,
News 150 - Taiwan,
The Grating Grandeur and Aggrandisement of Man,
and the Meekness of the Majestic Messiah Ch. 2
Beauty for Ashes Ch. 6 (and Hong Kong, and the movement of nations in the last century a concern),
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8;
SMR pp. 925ff., 971-972;
Beauty of Holiness Ch. 3
(war and force, rising downwards, Tiananmen and truth),
Ch. 4 (liberty, Tiananmen, worship and its direction in time, its terms and code of truth); History, Review and Overview Ch. 1,
Impossible to Men, Open to God Ch. 5
See also Lord of Life Ch. 8.
See The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 3, The Lost Cross and Blood Sport (The Bogus Pretender), with Irrational Religion both in EVOLUTION AS RELIGION and in this series of volumes.
See for example:
REASON, REVELATION and the REDEEMER
DEITY AND DESIGN, DESIGNATION AND DESTINY.
DEITY AND DESIGN, DESIGNATION AND DESTINY Section 8,
Barbs ... 6 -7,
Repent or Perish Ch. 7.