Short Critique On Eastern Orthodox’s Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option”

Rod Dreher with his call for cultural withdrawal via his “Benedict Option,” keeps saying “politics will not save us,” and as such Christians should give up on Washingtonian politics.

A few points,

1.) Whoever suggested that politics will save us?

2.) It is true that politics will not save us but it is also true that not doing politics will not save us either. So, what’s the point Rod?

3.) Where in Scripture do we find the authority to give up the antithesis in any area of life?

4.) Whatever happened to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” Rod?

5.) The answer to lousy saltiness is to become exceptionally lousy in our saltiness?

6.) One can not isolate and cordon off areas of life like this. Life is lived as an integrated whole. Because that is so if Christians were to retreat from Politics the consequence would be that pagan politics would go on the attack seeking to increasingly circumscribe the Christian witness in every other area of life.

We have to find a name to live by besides “Christian” because the way the “Christian” is used now is something God certainly abominates.

Ask the Pastor…. Strengths and Weaknesses of Postmodernism?

Dear Pastor,

In your opinion what brings the greatest concern with postmodernism and especially with the new generation Z.

Do you see any strengths of Postmodernism?

Thank you,

Bradley

Dear Bradley,

Good questions.

I.) Pomo’s Strength

1.) It not only deconstructs meta-narratives we know are true, it deconstructs meta-narratives that need to be deconstructed, such as Darwinian Evolutionary pseudo-science. Darwinism has been savaged by the Pomo’s and has really lost its status as the narrative of the West.

2.) Pomo reminds us of our creatureliness and that as creatures we cannot get outside of the universe in order to observe the universe and so know the universe. As such, there is always going to be subjectivity in our knowing. Creatures are subjective by definition and as such it must be admitted that the knowledge that we have of the objective has a tacit quality. Our knowledge is not only subjective as the pomo’s insist but neither is our knowledge only objective. See the works here of Michael Polanyi.

II.) Pomo’s weaknesses

1.) First, some would argue that pomo remains modernism but as on steroids, and there is a good deal of truth in that. Pomo like modernism interprets the world apart from God. As such pomo like modernism creates it’s own truths. The difference is that pomo admits it while modernism refused to admit it, choosing instead to embrace the nonsense of some kind of objective reality that can be posited by some kind of fiat act of the will via one kind of logical positivism or another.

2.) Pomo insists that there is no such thing as capital “T” truth but in doing so they demonstrate that Pomo’s capital “T” Truth is that there is no such thing as capital “T” Truth and that is every bit as much as a capital “T” truth as what modernity or any other meta-narrative ever wanted to offer. As such the broad claims of the pomo’s are myths.

3.) Pomo is irrational. So is modernism but Pomo doesn’t care and so doesn’t hide it like modernism does. Pomo’s today (self-conscious or not) embrace the most egregious and bald contradictions without caring one whit. They are irrational, and they love it so.

4.) Because Pomo’s think that they don’t care about capital “T” truth it is harder to get through to them with the Gospel or any true Truth in my estimation. When witnessing what you typically get is, “Well, if that works for you that’s nice.” As such to reach pomos you really have to understand that making them angry is the only way of doing so. (Angry because you have to really break up their worldview furniture before you catch their attention.) Even then they may not care. I’ve known more than one person I’ve engaged with who has said, “Yeah, I know I am in contradiction but I don’t care.”

5.) Pomo’s have no core in terms of character. If reality is what you make it then you can make up a new character and new reality every day. People who lie to themselves like this are sick people.

Thanks Bradley for the question,

Pastor Bret

Rev. McAtee contra Rev. Dr. Keller on Good Doctrine Being a Problem in Today’s Western Church

Starting @ the :52 second mark and ending at the 1:29 point

“I actually do think some people make an idol out of doctrine because there are sectors of the church that say if you have your doctrine straight, and if you have your doctrine right then you’re pleasing to God and  then you are part of the solution, not the problem and you’re not like all these other parts of the church that are very heretical.

There is a pride and a smugness about having good doctrine that, to me,  puts doctrine almost in the place of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and so it becomes an idol.”

Rev. Dr. Tim Keller, Pastor
Redeemer Presbyterian PCA,
New York City, NY

Rev. McAtee responds,

 

Rev. McAtee responds,

1.) Certainly, we must concede that as anything can be turned into an idol and so even doctrine can be turned into an idol. However, if and when that point has arrived the question that must be asked is whether or not the doctrine is the problem or whether the idolator is the problem. Of course, the problem is not the doctrine since it is only doctrine which will rescue the idolater from their making doctrine an idol.

2.) Keep in mind that if someone really has straight and right doctrine then it is not possible to be involved in idolatry since straight and right doctrine, by definition, is not compatible with idolatry. Indeed if one is making an idol of doctrine their doctrine certainly is neither straight, good nor right.  This is a large part of the confusion inherent in this statement by the Rev. Dr. Keller.

3.) Keep in mind that the only solution for those who have turned doctrine into an idol is to tell them to return to doctrine. Since the problem is not with the doctrine but with the idolator the only thing that is going to solve their idolatry is more doctrine. As the problem isn’t the doctrine the only solution is doctrine. If someone has turned doctrine into an idol they can only be reached by giving them true doctrine. As such, contrary to the Rev. Dr. Keller, the doctrine isn’t a problem.

4.) Obviously, we are pleasing to God only as being in Christ and coming under His protection and covering. However, that is a doctrine that I must have straight before I am pleasing to God. God is pleased when we by searching the Scriptures look to see what it is that we should believe (doctrine) in order to honor God. Now, while as a judge God is either pleased with us or not, as a Father God is more pleased with His children who search out Christ wherein are the treasures of all wisdom and knowledge (i.e. — doctrine). That this is so, is seen in how the Lord Christ deals with the seven Churches in Revelation. All Churches are Christians. Five churches are condemned for some weaknesses that the Lord was displeased with while two were only commended. God was more pleased by their faithfulness to the true doctrine than he was with those who were not faithful to true doctrine.

5.) Would to God that every sector of the Church would connect increasingly straight doctrine with God, as Father, being increasingly pleased with us. What other option is there? Would we say that God isn’t increasingly pleased as we are led by the Spirit to increasingly get our doctrine straight? Is God non-plussed over whether our doctrine is increasingly straight or increasingly crooked?

6.) People with crooked doctrine are part of the problem, no matter their good intentions. In the same way, people with straight and right doctrine are part of the solution.

7.) Would the Rev. Dr. Kell have us pray that our doctrine would not be good so that we would not suffer from pride and smugness?

8.) Rev. Dr. Keller complains about doctrine being put in the place of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and yet the whole idea of the saving grace of Jesus Christ is a doctrine that we’ve been warned against as having right, straight, or good.

9.) Rev. Dr. Keller worries about pride and smugness and idolatry and rightfully so. However, each of those is an issue of improper orthopraxy (right behavior). As proper orthopraxy can only be present where good, straight, and right proper orthodoxy (doctrine) first exists we realize that we can never steer clear of improper orthopraxy (pride, smugness, and idolatry) unless we are good, straight, and right, in our orthodoxy (doctrine).

10.) Some sectors of the Church are indeed very heretical and they are heretical precisely because their understanding of the truth as it is found in Jesus Christ is severely deficient.

Some might say, “Come on Rev. McAtee, you know what he means.” To that my response is, “I’d like to think I know what he means, but I honestly am not sure.” The Rev. Dr. Keller has had his bell rung on certain doctrinal issues that are important and where he has been less than clear upon. Is this a complaint on his part that people who dare disagree with him on his doctrine are examples of those who are pride, smug, and idolatrous?

Look, in our irrational age, it strikes me as passing odd to complain that one of the major problems of the Church is that it is over precise when it comes to its doctrine. This is like warning someone suffering from hypothermia that there is danger in sunstroke.

 

 

Make Sure and Laugh When Talking With and About the Absurd

In this interview,

Tucker Carlson debates a male transgender lawyer.

When we take matters like this seriously we have already lost the battle.

The male transgender lawyer is dressed here like a woman complete with blond wig, makeup, jewelry, etc.. Carlson and the Lawyer are having a serious conversation about what it takes to be officially Transgender.

I was getting sucked into the conversation when all of a sudden I start cracking up laughing from realizing how absurd this whole interview is.

I thought … “when we don’t howl in peals of laughter over the absurdity of all this we’ve already lost the battle. Taking any of it seriously means they win.”

In the past, in Ecclesiastic meetings, I’ve warned people about the danger wrapped up in having serious conversations about the absurd. I didn’t mean then and I don’t mean now that we shouldn’t debate about the perverse or about the perverted. Neither do I believe that we should not talk to them but if and when we do so it should be accompanied by belly laughs on our part during the conversation.

The Strangeness of Dr. Strange … A Movie Review

My Father was a man who had a hard time communicating affection. One way he was able to do so when I was a child, was by bringing me home comic books. My Mother wasn’t wild about me reading all these comic books. (My stash was significant.) She understood, properly, that I could be spending my time reading better subject matter. Of course, at that age I didn’t see that but looking back I realize how right she was.

Many have opined, and likely properly so, that the advent of super-heroes rose corresponding to a decline in the proper concrete estimation of the character of God. God is diminished and the vacuum is filled with God as man said loudly. Another observation is that with superhero comic books it’s as if the gods and the demigods of the Romans and Greeks made a sort of comeback. In all of this there is the idea of continuity of being. God and man are not that really different after all. The difference merely being that the gods have more being than mere mortals.

Still, comic books got me started in reading. These many years later the comic book world has been translated onto the Movie Screen in Hollyweird for the Baby Boomers, and I, like many others have viewed more than a few comic book films.

The latest comic book film to hit the silver screen is “Dr. Strange.” Dr. Strange belongs to the Marvel Comic Universe. Dr. Strange was the superhero for the paranormal and it is interesting that Dr. Strange as created in 1963 presaged the rise of interest in the paranormal and the occult that soon saw Universities across the nation offer programs in the Paranormal. (Stanford University, in 1911, was the first such university to offer such a  program to students in these US.)

Dr. Strange reflected that occult- paranormal interest perfectly. Modern man, in the 1960’s had become rationally bankrupt and had begun to turn in earnest to the Occult as a worldview option. That pursuit continues full-throated to this day. The Dr. Strange film taps into the modern fascination with the occult.

In the Dr. Strange film, one finds the usual contradictions that Worldview oneism provides. Oneism is a common denominator in all occultic worldviews and the Dr. Strange film is no exception. Oneism, communicates the idea that underneath what mortals see as differences there is an abiding sameness to everything. Hence the common mantra, “All is one.” We see this Oneism in the film when the guru “Ancient One,” says to Dr. Strange,

“At the root of existence, mind and matter meet.”

And again the villain Kaecilius offers in dialogue with Dr. Strange explaining what the conflict is all about,

“The many becoming the few, becoming the One.”

And again in that same exchange,

“This world doesn’t have to die, Doctor. This world can take its rightful place among so many others, as part of the One. The great and beautiful One.”

Dr. Peter Jones has done some excellent work on “Oneism.” I recommend his books to all who desire to see and understand the occult worldview expanding in our culture.

So, in the Dr. Strange film one finds this theme of oneism (All is one) and yet the contradictions continue to roll as there is a universe of different Universes. All is one and yet the film toys with the yin and yang theme which posits two equally opposite forces in the universe. Further, the film shifts from the idea that all is Material to all is non-material. In this sense, it is Western new-age. Now toss in Occult symbology here and there and you have a typical Hollyweird Kaballah film.

Another example of the embrace of contradiction is seen in this exchange,

Dr. Strange — “I control the river by surrendering control? That doesn’t make sense.”

Ancient — “Not everything does. Not everything has to. Your intellect has taken you far in life but it will take you no further. Surrender Stephen.”

This is not a great deal different from when assorted Roman Catholics, Arminians, and Open Theists tell me that “God is sovereign enough to not be sovereign.”

The appeal to the irrational is also part of the appeal to contradiction. Not everything has to make sense is an overt embrace of reasoning by contradiction. The call to surrender is the call to surrender rationality.

There was also a substantial amount of worldview inversion going on where good was being labeled “evil,” and evil was being called “good.”

The most blatant example of this was seen when the villain Kaecilius says,

“Dormammu gives freely. Life, everlasting.”

This is never denied in the film. Indeed the Ancient One lives long life by tapping into Dormammu.

Christianity, on the other hand teaches that it is Christ who came to give life and give it abundantly.

Another example is where we see the desire for eternal life as painted as being evil, and “the Ancient” who was one of the main “good guys” could only be good and have long life as long as she tapped into the evil. (Nevermind, that if all is one, good and evil are categories that can’t exist.) It is only in the Dark Dimension were the omnipotent Dormammu reigns where time does not exist and where all can have eternal life. In the Dr. Strange film, the only way to access eternal life was through concourse with the dark side.

Second, there is worldview inversion where death is seen as a positive good that gives meaning to everything.

Ancient One — “Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered. Your time is short. “

So, one can have eternal life by embracing evil Dormammu or one has to die to find meaning in living. Of course in Biblical Christianity death is the enemy… the last enemy to be defeated.

There are also hints of blood atonement in the film, but in the worldview inversion, the atonement is offered up to the Satan character in the film. Dr. Strange has to die over and over again in order to ransom earth. The ransom is paid to Dormammu (Satan). This is an inversion of Biblical Christianity where the blood ransom price in the atonement that is required is paid to God. Whereas in  Biblical Christianity the ransom as the atonement price means peace with God in Dr. Strange the ransom as the atonement price means that Dormammu (Satan character) leaves earth alone.

Top all this off with a clear teaching of a kind of ethical relativism and one has the perfect recipe for a film with an anti-Christian worldview. While in Christianity Christ comes to keep all of God’s law, in Hollyweird’s “Dr. Strange,” the Hero comes and saves the world by breaking all the unbreakable rules.

In the end, Mordo, a co-hero in the film, ends up turning disillusioned and embittered because the unbreakable laws were all broken. Dr. Strange as the hero is willing to do anything — to break any rule — in order to get the right result, while the perceived legalist Mordo won’t break the rules and is seen as lacking compassion. Is this a Hollyweird hint that Christians are legalistic and lack compassion because they are not relativists and won’t break the rules?

In the end, while Dr. Strange may be entertaining, it is fraught with Worldview ugliness.

Par for the course for Hollyweird.