The Problem with the “Deeds, Not Creeds” Mentality Is Its Anti-Intellectualism

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“Christianity is a life, not a doctrine” –Walter Rauschenbusch.

This idea has captured liberal congregations in the past, and today is the rallying cry for many who claim to be Christian conservatives. One reason that Christians often shy away from defending Scripture is because cool-shaming is a reality, especially among some of the university-age set.

Full article by Alex Wilgus here.

Paganism, or Not Paganism

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From Peter Jones book, The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity’s Greatest Threat. Bellingham, WA: Kirkdale Press, 2015:

Our Worldview Alternatives: Oneism and Twoism

I claim, with the Bible, that there are only two worldviews—one based on the ultimacy of the creation, and the other based on the ultimate, prior, and all-determining existence of the Creator. Creation and Creator are the only alternatives as divine objects of worship—the only possible explanations of the world we know. The conflict is between two mutually exclusive, antithetical belief systems. Our choice will affect the answers we give to those two important questions: Is there something rather than nothing? And if there is something, what is that something like?
For the sake of simplicity, I call these two alternatives Oneism and Twoism.1 They are not mere variations on a general spiritual theme, but the only two timeless, mutually contradictory ways to think about the world. In these two terms (Oneism and Twoism), there is a universe of difference. These are the only two destinations on the tracks we can travel; let’s map them out in more detail now.

Oneism

Oneism sees the world as self-creating (or perpetually existing) and self-explanatory. Everything is made up of the same stuff, whether matter, spirit, or a mixture. There’s one kind of existence, which, in one way or another, we worship as divine (or of ultimate importance), even if that means worshiping ourselves. Though there is apparent differentiation and even hierarchy, all distinctions are, in principle, eliminated, and everything has the same worth. This is a “homocosmology,” a worldview based on sameness. The classic term for this is “paganism,” worship of nature.

Twoism

The only other option is a world that is the free work of a personal, transcendent God, who creates ex nihilo (from nothing). In creating, God was not constrained by or dependent on any preexisting conditions. There is nothing exactly like this in our human experience of creating; our creative acts are analogous to God’s. There is God, and there is everything that is not-God—everything created and sustained by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This worldview celebrates otherness, distinctiveness. We only worship as divine the distinct, personal, triune Creator, who placed essential distinctions within the creation. This is a “heterocosmology,” a worldview based on otherness and difference. This is often called “theism.”2
Both of these worldviews, whether implicitly assumed or explicitly embraced, require the same fundamental certainty. In other words, if one is ultimately true, the other must be false. In the moral universe of the Bible, knowledge is never neutral. That’s why Paul calls these worldviews “the truth” and “the lie” (Rom 1:25).

Endnotes:

1 I am not inventing anything other than a simplified terminology. Other descriptions of the two options include biblical faith or paganism, monism or theism, or the Creator/creature distinction.

2 If this is the biblical worldview, how does one relate it to Rabbinic Judaism and Islam, whose followers also claim to respect the Bible (though in very different ways)? There is only one pure Oneist—Satan—and one pure Twoist—Jesus Christ. Judaism and Islam have a defective view of biblical Twoism. Their denial of the Trinity leaves them with a transcendent yet impersonal God (an attempt at Twoism), who ultimately depends upon his relationship with human beings in order to constitute his personhood (which ends up in Oneism by a circuitous route). Rabbinic scholar Abraham Heschel (1907–1972) rightly critiqued Islam for seeing God as “unqualified Omnipotence,” who can never be “the Father of mankind,” and thus is radically impersonal. See Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper, 1962), 292, 311. Yet postbiblical Judaism cannot escape Heschel’s critique entirely. The medieval rabbi Maimonides, for example, also confessed an “absolutely transcendent God who is independent of humanity.” See Reuven Kimelman, “The Theology of Abraham Joshua Heschel,” First Things (Dec 2009). On the other hand, Kimelman notes that Heschel commits the opposite error to that of Maimonides (and Islam), namely that of making God dependent on man in a covenantal relationship that both God and man need in order to be who they are. Heschel adopts the rabbinical concept that it is human witness that in some sense makes God real (Kimelman, “The Theology of Abraham Joshua Heschel”). Once more, God is dependent upon humanity. This is the classic dilemma of a monotheism without the Trinity. Because Heschel does not believe God to be triune, God depends on man to be personal and therefore cannot be “Wholly Other” in relation to creation.
Peter Jones, The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity’s Greatest Threat (Bellingham, WA: Kirkdale Press, 2015), 12–13.

Here's the Problem:

https://mediamatters.org/embed/206855

This scene from the TV series Homeland was featured on Monday’s MSNBC news, as a commentary on the Paris attacks. Notice around the 1:35 mark, when the solutions are proffered: “200,000 ground troops indefinitely to protect an equal number of doctors and teachers,” OR “bomb Raqqa into a parking lot.”

Those are the only options available to the mind of popular media (which is a mirror of popular thought). I fear that Western leadership suffers from the same tunnel-vision, when the question should be asked, “Why are we so impotent?”

We, the West, are powerless to fight against the ideology of Islam, as the clip correctly shows. But the problem is not one of strategy, but one of moral nerve. This moral nerve cannot be mustered, because the West has committed spiritual suicide, having finally and completely rejected its spiritual foundations in Christendom.

Christendom gets a lot of bad press right now, often without describing what it really was, could be, and really entails. Mention it and you will get one of two comments: “You can’t go back to the days of ‘Leave it to Beaver,'” or, “Yes, but the Crusades were terrible.” The first comment only demonstrates ignorance; the second, fails to understand that the soldiers of the Crusades actually believed that what they were fighting for had eternal consequences.

Today’s soldiers will grow weary fighting for freedom when, upon their return, find that their governments define freedom as confused young men’s rights to shower with their daughters after gym. The growth of government has been a solution to the wrong problem for decades, and when freedom is celebrated in the West, it is done so with the proper permissions, permits, and waivers.

The spiritual underpinnings of Western freedoms and democracies have not simply faded away, they have been banished. This is why in popular culture, the two options of humanistic education and health care (the 21st centuries’ version of salvation) or elimination through bombing are the only two choices available.

The option of national repentance, from leaders to the led, across all segments of society, is not on the table, and this is certainly why the West must fall.

We, the West, have tolerated the destruction of generations of children. We cannot, then, think of ourselves as the moral superiors to Islam in any form, violent or not. Our cultural sins have brought great judgement upon us, and God will give our lands to those who do not kill their children.

Consider God’s words against Nineveh, who a century and a half repented under Jonah’s preaching, but was to fall for their sins. Nahum compares Nineveh to Thebes of Egypt, a nation that Nineveh (Assyria) slaughterd:

Nahum 3:10 (ESV)

10  Yet she became an exile;

she went into captivity;

her infants were dashed in pieces

at the head of every street;

for her honoured men lots were cast,

and all her great men were bound in chains.

Notice the infanticide that Nineveh inflicted upon Thebes, and how that was a cause of judgement. Nineveh was known for its cruelty, yet somehow Western post-Christian nations think that they are not! The thousands that Islam has killed in the past decades is such a small number compared to the mass destruction of the innocent by the West.

In Nahum 3:11-13 we read how easy it will be for Babylon to defeat Nineveh. Keep in mind that Nineveh and Assyria were the regions superpowers at the time, and were thought for years to be invincible. No military strategist could have seen this coming.

11  You also will be drunken;

you will go into hiding;

you will seek a refuge from the enemy.

12  All your fortresses are like fig trees

with first-ripe figs—

if shaken they fall

into the mouth of the eater.

13  Behold, your troops

are women in your midst.

The gates of your land

are wide open to your enemies;

fire has devoured your bars.

Drunkenness, fear, pursuit, an easy target, women soldiers and open gates all describe Nineveh before her enemies. Nineveh, and her neighbhours, did not believe this for a moment, but this is how their end came.

God mocks their preparations, as He mocks our strategies today:

Nahum 3:14–15 (ESV)

14  Draw water for the siege;

strengthen your forts;

go into the clay;

tread the mortar;

take hold of the brick mold!

15  There will the fire devour you;

the sword will cut you off.

It will devour you like the locust.

Multiply yourselves like the locust;

multiply like the grasshopper!

Get ready, and die anyway, is the message of Nahum.

More doctors! More teachers! or, More bombs!

Since we’re not treating our cancer, it must metastasize. God granted Nineveh repentance during the days of Jonah, but did not do so again. We have no certainty that He will grant us repentance, and we should just reflect upon that.