Campbell looks at the Church and the world and wonders where it all went wrong
Now retired but once upon a time a parish minister in Glasgow, before that the South West and initially the Black Isle. Been a prison chaplain and lecturer. Still am constantly bemused by the weird world around me.
In a comment on The Transgender Cult Cannuck210 who has experience of China, compared the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution to the SJWs of today’s West, pointing out that ‘the resemblance is quite close’. This view is shared by John Gray, former Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics and one of Britain’s few public intellectuals. Gray warns that what we are witnessing today ‘is strikingly reminiscent of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, which convulsed communist China from 1966-1976 and wrecked much of what remained of the country’s ancient civilisation’.
Parallels between one historical epoch and today can go only so far – ‘history rhymes but does not repeat itself’ – but parallels do exist and should act as warnings. The cultural revolution the West is undergoing today has many parallels with China’s decade of destruction. This should be of concern to Christians.
Will they ever stop? Whenever radicals claim another victory in dismantling social norms such as celebrating homosexual behaviour, imposing same sex marriage and coercing us to take pride in the latest milestone, individuals of a more traditional bent think this time they’ve gone too far. And we have always been wrong. After every victory those who are intent on dismantling Western culture move on to the next battlefront.
Is it possible that the transgender movement is a push too far, as some hope? I doubt it. It is apparent that the transgender movement has the characteristics of a cult which will not stop until it is forced to stop.
In the West today, the debate over the abstract term ‘gender’ is about as toxic as it gets.
On one side there are women, keenly aware that many hard-won rights and entitlements are grounded in biological sex. Feminists who have campaigned for women’s equality have generally affirmed conventional definitions of the terms sex and gender.
On the other side are trans activists who subscribe to more fluid ideas about sex and gender. They hold that people have an innate ‘gender identity’ which can differ from the sex they were ‘assigned’ at birth. Trans activists believe that men who identify as women and women who identify as men should have access to the rights and entitlements of the ‘gender’ they affiliate with, even if their biological characteristics would forbid such access.
We naturally resist the idea of governments censoring what we may hear, read or say. This is something which happens only in totalitarian countries such as communist states, where what can be circulated is tightly controlled so that only the official standpoint is allowed public exposure. Totalitarian regimes find censorship essential. If people are exposed to contrary ideas they may start thinking for themselves and reject the officially approved line.
We read of Christian heroes who under great pressure have defied the odds, obeyed God and achieved great things for Him, and we rightly admire them. But this can become a trap. We often think, ‘I wish I could do that, but I know I never could.’ Instead of being encouraged, we condemn ourselves, our confidence shrinks and we do nothing.
Few can be a Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Gladys Aylward or Richard Wurmbrand. But God does not ask us to become a Bonhoeffer, Aylward or Wurmbrand. God asks that we become ourselves, as fully and truly as we can. To do that in the midst of an unbelieving generation means getting on with what God has placed before us. Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ or the best opportunity, get on with what is before us today.
During the lockdown many are concerned about isolation. There are those who feel it doubly.
Bible-believing Christians who express reservations about, or even opposition to, the way in which society is moving are increasingly vilified and labelled hate-filled bigots; crushed into silence by a liberal-minded elite who seek to suppress any dissent. Stranded within an unbelieving society and too often the lone dissident within the congregations in which we worship, it is easy to feel with Elijah that we alone are left (I Kings 19:14).
We have decided that whatever the cost we are going to follow Christ in the midst of an unbelieving and increasingly intolerant society. How do we go about being part of God’s Awkward Squad? We Christian dissenters begin with ourselves.
Get In Training Recognise that we are in this for the long haul. Unless the Lord intervenes drastically, change in society will not come overnight but is going to take decades. We work for the world in which our children and grandchildren will live. Any athlete wishing to succeed in a marathon trains hard for the event. To be useful in facing an unbelieving and increasingly belligerent world, training in God-honouring living (I Timothy 4:7f) is essential.
In previous posts it has been pointed out that, small as we are, the only group able truly to resist the onslaught on Christian values are biblical Christians. In the next few posts I wish to outline how biblical Christians can exist and be useful in the conditions of the soft intolerance we shall increasingly face.
Realise the Importance of Christian Distinctiveness
We must first grasp the significance, personally and socially, of not going with the progressive flow. To allow our Christian faith to be increasingly diluted to accommodate unbelieving standards is to turn our backs on Christ. Only consistent Christians are able to maintain the standards upon which our society is built; if we are not clear the West as we know it is lost.
In my last post I asked, ‘Who then shall hold the line?’ and confidently answered, ‘We shall’. Yet Christians are a small and shrinking minority in the West, and only a small minority of that small minority argue for biblical principles for society. What chance do biblical Christians have when faced with the powers of the elites and the opposition of the great majority?
A Total Revolution Every so often something hits you between the eyes and you wonder, ‘What on earth is happening, are there any sane people left out there?’ This week Michelle Winter, a violent male who self-identifies as a ‘trans woman’ was imprisoned for fifteen years for raping a woman, and yet the press referred to the rapist Winter as a woman.
Andrew Breitbart said ‘Politics is downstream of culture’ meaning that the culture shapes politics and that social conservatives should concentrate on the culture. What many Christians do not appreciate is that before the culture comes the faith which shapes how we think and live. Culture is downstream of faith.
We speak of a culture war, the conflict between the opposing ideals of the progressive forces who wish to radically alter the structures and values of our society and the traditionalists who wish to retain the values and principles which have shaped the West.
This is not a culture war, it is a faith war. Behind the radical progressive assault on our culture is the necessity to sideline the biblically based Christian faith which created that culture. Destroy the foundations and the superstructure falls. The only way of truly defending Western culture against the progressive onslaught is by defence of the Christian faith which created it. As the secularists cut our cultural ties with the foundational religion the culture gradually dies.
You may have thought 2020 was a milestone in progressive insanity infiltrating the church. We found the Church of Scotland, in defiance of science, asserting that some ‘women have a penis’. Not to be outdone, the Church of England stepped forward when Jay Greene, a member of its General Synod, brazenly mangled Scripture by saying to ‘lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender’ people ‘as Our Lord said to Lazarus, Come out.’
If you thought this rejection of science and distortion of Scripture was progressive Christian peak crazy, ‘You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’ 2021 has started with a bang.
Emmanuel Cleaver of the Democrat Party represents Missouri’s 5th congressional district in the US House of Representatives and is a one-time chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is also an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church and was pastor of a Methodist congregation for 37 years. He holds a Master of Divinity degree (M Div) from Saint Paul School of Theology, Leawood, Kansas.