Monday, July 30, 2012

Mission Impossible?

Your task, Mr Christian, should you choose to accept it, is this:

1. Understand what a Christian social order is, and how it differs from the secular and non-Christian social orders we face.
2. Construct a Christian social order in micro (small local settings that can be duplicated), and get it working, so that,
3. As the secular/non-Christian social order breaks down the Christian social order can take over in its place.

This is what I understand the Great Commission to be expressed in modern language. Problem: getting Christians to understand that this is the Great Commission, and getting them to read the Bible in terms of its own world-view rather than looking at it through secular humanist and Gnostic dualist spectacles. All we have at the moment is a Church that is little more than a Christian mystery cult comprised of elements of a Christian soteriology, with a spirituality that is essentially a modern version of Gnostic dualism, set in the context of a secular-humanist world-view. This gives us a Harry Potter version of Christianity that is about as realistic as the imaginary world of 
JK Rowling. The real thing is just not there, and the world sees this. 

Mission Impossible? Well, impossible or not this is what I believe the task of the Church is now, and actually always was.

I am trying to express this in such a way that people will understand the real issue. Tired and well-worn Christian terminology looses its meaning for a lot of people because it has been re-defined; for example, talk of the Kingdom of God, which in truth is an excellent concept and made sense in previous centuries (and is simply an older way of saying what I have said above), has lost its relevance because it has been so spiritualised away as to be virtually meaningless. Not that I think we should no longer use the term Kingdom of God. But we have to give it biblical content and express it in such a way that people understand what it really means. The term "kingdom of God" as used by most Christians today has no more meaning in terms of linguistic content than a swear-word, i.e. it is a rhetorical flourish used for effect but conveying little real meaning. Talk to Christians about the biblical content of the term and you will soon find yourself up against a Christian mystery cult that is essentially an escapist religion (as were the mystery cults of classical antiquity). For example, last year I went round many of the Christian pastors and Church leaders in the town where I live putting the above argument to them, and quite a number balked at it because of their eschatology (the rest, with a few exceptions, were just non-plussed and did not know what to say because they had not thought about such things before). “Jesus is coming back soon and he will take us all away. So what on earth are you talking about?” The idea that he isn't, at least not soon, and that he won't until we have discipled the nations, i.e. converted the nations to the Christian faith, is classed as erroneous eschatology that distracts us from the real business of the faith, namely, having a nice bless-up on Sunday mornings in which all the “prophets” spout their usual garbage and the minister preaches the usual irrelevant message and we all sing chorus till we are blue in the face and have a wonderful spiritual experience, oh and yes, of course, put enough money in the collection plate to keep this ridiculous circus on the road for another week. In other words a strategy for oblivion, which is precisely what we are facing. Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin!

Well, to end on a positive note, steps 1, 2 and 3 above is what the early Church did, not perfectly by any means, but substantially nonetheless. We need to do the same, only learning from their mistakes and progress the Great Commission even further. Who’s up for it? Please all shout at once.

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