On the moral failure of modernism

26 02 2007

Below are my comments upon William Rees-Mogg’s recent article in The Times (26/02/07) entitled ‘Religion isn’t the sickness. It’s the cure’.

In an eminent display of apologetics, William Rees-Mogg establishes the indispensability of Judeo-Christian faith in preserving and forming the moral character of our nation. Attacking scientific and philosophical attempts to replace Christianity as the moral foundation of our nation, he rightly observes, ‘science was unable to produce a science-based morality for society’.  

20th century attempts from within the scientific community to produce a complete and coherent moral philosophy have failed. If you do not believe me, review the philosophical wreckages of the 20th century; Hitler’s social darwinism, Marx’s materialist ethics, Nietzsche’s moral relativism. In their wake, we are left with a chasm currently filled with a mix of materialism, scientism, and political correctness.   

The social project resulting from the enlightenment has had devastating consequences on the social identity of this country. It seems clear that broken homes, the neglect of children, widespread drug abuse, alcoholism, youth gangs, abuse of the elderly, rampant consumerism, obesity, terrorism, the inner-city ghettos, and materialism are all the marks of a global society in decline.  

It is too late for many in our society who are beholden to false gods of consumerism and materialism, bereft without points of moral reference, and victims of society’s moral chaos. I feel truly sorry for those broken lives; and fearful for those who continue to wander lost and alone in this moral wilderness.  

My suspicion is that it is too late to turn back the clock; that our global society is in collapse. And in the face of this all we can do is a form a community able to resist this social decay, by seeking a coherent exposition of scripture, a closer fellowship, a more faithful witness, Spirit-filled  worship and humble service.


Peace March, London

23 02 2007

I was reading the news reports of the protest against gun crime, held yesterday in the Capital, when I came across this quote by twenty-three year old Adrian Harrison:

‘I wanted to be in the presence of believers’

It’s such a powerful phrase, but why does he want to be amongst the faithful, what does it mean for him to be with the believers, and how will faith make a difference on the streets? I don’t have all the answers, but I know that Adrian Harrison isn’t the only one turning to the community of salvation and to God for help.

Heavenly Father,
I do not understand the social pressures or the culture of gang violence faced by those in southeast London, but I know that you understand all things. In the midst of this area be with those caught up in gang warfare, those in gangs, those intimidated by gangs, and those who become victims of these gangs.
In the name of the Prince of Peace,

For a God who can make the whole universe in a big bang the odd resurrection should be child’s play!

12 02 2007

I don’t know whether you’ve heard people say they ‘kind of’ believe in the God who created the universe but they don’t believe in the Jesus. I guess the barren, loveless, and deterministic world of Professor Dawkins isn’t for them, but neither do they want to surrender the idea that they are masters of their own destiny. Thus, they reason that whilst the world has both material and spiritual depths the creator has no continuing interest in the creation. It is left to them to make what they will of the world, to plumb the hidden corners of creation, to discover the ‘spiritual’ meaning behind life.

It is a strange conclusion to stumble across because who would invest the time and care needed to form all the wonders of this world, the ocean deeps, the highest mountains, the impenetrable jungles, the never-ending horizons, and the perfect sunsets? Also, how might one hope to find spiritual meaning if the Creator cares nothing for His creation, and how is humanity any better for having a creator if we have been orphaned by that power?

In contrast to the cold, pre-determined, scientific world of the atheist and the creator abandoned world of the neo-agnostic, the Christian claim is that there is a God who cares for all of His creation. Indeed, the entire earth is sustained by His providence. Humans are neither an accident of science nor an orphan of the creator, but people who can receive God’s love and become children adopted into God’s family.

Still, some people will be unconvinced that the God who created the universe is the same God who raised Jesus from the dead. ‘It is against the natural laws of the universe’, such people may protest, and this is of course true. In fact, if someone were to show that Jesus resurrection was a natural occurrence then the claims of Christianity would be unsensational.

I can not hope to do justice to such a broad topic in four hundred word blog, but if you are unconvinced I can only encourage you to pray, read the bible, and listen/watch the believers. It may be that as you are seeking truth, the One who is True will find you!

Why Is Statecraft Problematic?

2 02 2007

Ok, so I thought the answer to this question was obvious but as ever I am being asked to clarify my opinions, here goes:

It is easy to see why the Church of England, whose leader is appointed by the Prime Minister, whose Bishops sit in the House of Lords, and who recognise the Queen as the head of the Church might see legislation which curtails Christian freedom to be an issue! Nor is it difficult to see that for years there has been a kind of truce between the Church and the State, whether you are a member of a dissenting church or the recognised state church you have enjoyed the benefits of Christian freedoms resulting from that truce.

I have in the past welcomed greater separation between the church and the government, because I believe there are particular beliefs which result in Christians living in a different way to secular people, but to welcome legislation which could curtail my freedom to live as Christ has called me to live is not something I am obliged to do.

I am interested in church history and some of the earliest debates Christians had surrounded the extent to which it was appropriate for Christians to seek martyrdom. Orthodox opinion was that to seek persecution and martyrdom ruled you out from being considered a martyr for your faith. I am not being melodramatic to use this as an example, I do not think we are in danger of imminent persecution, but the principle is clear Christians are to seek to live peaceably alongside the government and they are not to invite conflict between the government and the Church nor are they to seek to use the power of the State.

I hope that is clear, as always my opinions are in the process of formation and reformation, so I welcome your thoughts.

Statecraft: A Secular Church?

1 02 2007

I don’t know what you think of the Roman Catholic and Anglican rebellion over the freedom of Catholic Adoption Agencies to refuse homosexual couples the right to adopt children from their clinics – it seems based upon an interesting mix of biblical warrant, natural law ethics, and established tradition/ practice. I guess I’m not so concerned about this one particular issue as about a wider concern, voiced by Cardinal Murphy O’Connor and Bishop Tom Wright, as they accused the government of ‘imposing a new morality’. I fear the Cardinal and Bishops are right it is becoming increasingly difficult for Roman-Catholic, Anglo-Catholics, Evangelical, Orthodox, Charismatic, mainstream Christians to maintain the faith they inherited. I’m sure that some will find it worrying that the State has decided to legislate against the devout beliefs/ convictions of many mainstream Christians.
It is not the first time the state has legislated against Christian convictions, but in the past on issues such as abortion, individual Christians have been allowed the right to object on moral grounds. Sadly, no such right has been afforded Catholic Adoption Agencies.
I guess we are now seeing the separation of the Church and the State, we are learning what has always been true: the State and Church are living competing narratives! Over 1600 years ago, St Augustine wrote De civitate Dei and revealed the confrontation between the City of God and the City of Man. Claiming that the secular state is just a false imitation of the City of God, the Church. William Cavanaugh expounds this truth by writing ‘the modern state is “founded on certain stories of nature and human nature, the origins of human conflict, and the remedies of such conflict in the enactment of the state itself”’. In contrast, the Church is founded upon the story of creation, fall, and redemption.
It seems clear that the State is setting itself up as a source of alternative salvation. In other words, ‘the modern state seeks to replace the church by itself becoming a soteriological institution’. I guess now it may be appropriate to declare that the State is in the hands of anti-Christ – a false copy of the Body of Christ, the Church. In an academic setting these words feel comfortable, couched in philosophical, intellectual language, but today these ideas feel deeply disturbing- what do you think?

Note: quotes taken from James K.A. Smith’s ‘Introducing Radical Orthodoxy; Mapping a Post-Secular Theology’ (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2004) pp.132-133