Christianity and Culture (3)

The superstructure of society is not the mode of production. It is religion and culture (Gary North, 2011).

The godless have always seen government and politics as central to their cause. To them, these are the big levers to shift in a society to effect change. But this was not God’s focus with Gideon. God wanted to begin with something else entirely. He commanded Gideon,

…Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the alter of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the Lord your God in an orderly manner… (Judges 6:25-26).

It seems God wasn’t interested in Israel’s politics, at least not yet. He wanted to confront and destroy its idolatry, and this was His initial purpose in apprehending Gideon.

Religion is central. The First Commandment was “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex.20:3). Israel’s departure from God was a religious departure, with implications that included politics and every other field of human activity, for all fields of human activity are important to God and subject to Him.

The Bible gives us this warning: “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever” (Heb.13:8). The God of Gideon is our God today, so we should expect Him to be challenging His people to confront the idolatry of our day, especially that within the hearts of His people.

What is the besetting sin of Western man in our time, including God’s people?

Statism. North comments,

Men in their rebellion against God want to believe in a State that can heal them. They believe in salvation by law. They prefer to live under the authority of a messianic State, meaning a healer State, rather than under freedom. They want to escape the burdens of personal and family responsibility in this world of cursed scarcity. They want to live as children live, as recipients of bounty without a price tag. They are willing to sacrifice their liberty and the liberty of others in order to attain this goal.[1]

If and when the Messianic State fails, people’s false hopes go down with it. Their dreams will lie shattered, and this is a very good thing; painful but essential. They then have to say, “My god has failed me. Who is the true God?”

This is why I have every hope that the welfare State of our modern era is not going to survive. It’s many and mounting internal contradictions (including perpetual debt) have led to its destabilisation, which has been building now for decades. This will not be an economic aberration, but the judgement of God on an idolatrous belief system, predicated in this pagan ideal: “The State can save you.”

This will be painful for society, but also for the church, which has not been immune from this nonsense. The acids of statism have been eating away at the foundations of the church for generations too, and it will need to repent of its false beliefs, ask for God’s forgiveness, and seek His right way, from His Word. Evil beliefs have to be torn down before the right beliefs can be sought out and embraced.

The Christian church thus needs a good clean-out, a Reformation from within. This cannot have any other valid source than God Himself, showing that He is at work amongst His people, bringing repentance and change within His house. This will be painful, sometimes embarrassing, humiliating and ignominious for us. There will be resignations and upheaval as God takes His people to the cleaners for a work-over.

All the refuse in the house that’s build up over generations will have to be gotten rid of. The foolish ideas and practices that have no justification in scripture, the superficial doctrines that we’ve entertained, that have gotten us to the low place we are in today: out the door.

The leaders who got us to this low place won’t be those who get us out of it, because they have been part of the problem. So, just as occurred in the Reformation, there will need to be new leaders raised up who will teach the whole counsel of God, based in His law.

Conclusion:

Godless men try to effect change through politics, but the godly understand that it’s the church that under God, has the prime responsibility to lead the way in national change. This will require of leaders what it’s always required:

We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4).

This will require our faithfulness, flexibility and a willingness to work with others to get the job done; and there is much to do, for generations-forever.

Ready for it?

 

 

 

[1] Gary North (www.garynorth.com), “The Covenantal Ideal of Economic Growth,” 26/4/2016.