Galtians 3:28 and Beyond

Galatians 3:26-29

26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

We pause this morning to give brief consideration to vs. 28, if only because this text has become the center of a firestorm in the life of the contemporary Western Church.

In the last few decades vs. 28 has been appealed to in order to legitimize the understanding that traditional, and heretofore thought to be Biblical role distinctions between men and women, both in the home and in the Church, are invalid, improper and wrong.

Vs. 28 is appealed to as being the text that informs us that as Christians a new social order has dawned that sloughs off the consequences of the fall, which includes the sinful consequence of Male headship in the home and in the Church. Those who make this appeal reason backwards from Galatians 3:28 to suggest that in the creation order and before the fall there was no notion of male headship and it is only with the fall and sin coming into the created order that we find male headship. Put concisely, this ‘evangelical’ feminism argues that male headship is a consequence of sin that is reversed in Church and home (and culture where Christ’s rule sways) with the coming of Christ’s Kingdom. Galatians 3:28 is seen as a hermeneutical North star for many in the ‘Evangelical’ feminist camp. This text becomes the healing astringent that all other texts that deal with male and female relationships must be read through since it provides the constant that corrects all the other cultural relative situations with which all other New Testament texts are putatively infected.

We want to note that while this is an interesting and even innovative argument it hopelessly shipwrecks and splinters upon several significant boulders of reality.

First there is the boulder that up until recently in Church history, no known major Church Theologian read Galatians 3:28 in such a way as to suggest that because of the advent of Christ and the arrival of His Kingdom what arrives is this idea of a egalitarian social order that flattens out of all authority (Male and Female), labor (Slave and Free), and ethnic (Jew and Gentile) distinctions. What we see then is that the recent hailing of Galatians 3:28 as the text of social egalitarianism is unique and has no historical legs upon which to stand.

Now, we must admit that it is possible that 2000 years of Church history got this text all wrong and further missed the egalitarian New Testament theology that it teaches. Further we must concede that there may yet be found some Church Theologian in history who read Galatians 3:28 the way that it is being read today. Still, one would think that this lack of precedent would cause people to go slow on embracing Galatians 3:28 in a way that no Church Theologian in history that we know of has ever embraced it.
Second, there is the boulder of the rest of the New Testament Scripture. If it were the case that the Kingdom of Christ eliminates the idea of gender roles, labor roles, and ethnic roles we would expect to find a consistent testimony to that end in the NT record and yet quite to the contrary we find the opposite testimony. The New Testament retains distinction between male and female in Godly homes in passages like I Cor. 11:1-16, 14:34, I Tim. 2:11-14, Ephesians 5:22f, and I Pt. 3:1f. The New Testament retains distinctions between Jew and Gentile in passages like Romans 9-11 where the discussion centers on how Israel will be saved vis-à-vis the Gentiles. The New Testament retains distinctions between Slave and Free in passages like Philemon, Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-4:1, and I Timothy 6:1-2. There is simply no way that a fair minded person can read the New Testament and conclude that it teaches some kind of social egalitarianism. Everywhere on the New Testament pages is the reality of gender, ethnic, and labor distinctions and not in the sense that these distinction are automatically evil.

Third, there is the boulder of the whole context of Galatians 3. From what we have seen as we have together worked through Galatians 3 the labor of the Apostle in this book is in no way connected to the issue of gender, labor or ethnic roles. Rather the issue in Galatians is how it is that Gentiles do not need to become Jews in order to become Christians. The issue is the freedom that the Gentiles have in Christ quite apart from the desire of the Judaizers to foist upon the Galatians covenantal boundary markers that are obsolete because of the finished work of Christ. Galatians speaks up the completely gracious character of God’s salvation. To suddenly come upon vs. 28 and insist that it is the interpretive key that unlocks the revolutionary egalitarian nature of the Kingdom of God is to egregious violence to the whole text of Galatians. Interpretively, such an action is really quite criminal.

Context is central in this matter. If I walk into a closed room and see and a 55 year old man hugging and kissing an 18 year old I need context in order to understand what is happening. It may be the case that this is a pervert that is forcing himself upon some young lady in which case I have need to come to her rescue. It may be the case that this is a May — December Marriage in which case I may need to tell them to get a room. And it may be the case that he is her grandfather and he is trying to console her over some kind of loss in which case I should shut the door and mind my own business. Context means everything.

What egalitarians do with Galatians 3:28 in order to support the idea that with the advent of the Gospel role distinctions are eliminated is the same as happening upon a May December Marriage and concluding that the gentlemen needs to be hauled off to jail. ‘Evangelical’ feminists in appealing to Galatians 3:28 in order to support their agenda are contextually challenged. Context means everything and the context of Galatians 3:28 has nothing to do with the elimination of gender, labor, or ethnic distinctions that continue to exist in the Kingdom.

John Piper offers here that ,

The context of Galatians 3:28 makes abundantly clear the sense in which men and women are equal in Christ: they are equally justified by faith (v. 24), equally free from the bondage of legalism (v. 25), equally children of God (v. 26), equally clothed with Christ (v. 27), equally possessed by Christ (v. 29), and equally heirs of the promises to Abraham (v. 29).

I would only add that the same is true of Masters and Slaves and Jews and Gentiles.

Galatians 3:28 does nothing to overturn the Historical and Biblical categories that maintain social differences between different people. Now, to be sure Galatians 3:28 does eliminate things like hatred of the brethren that are different from us, precisely because we are all in Christ and are all children of God. The historical hatred of Jew for Gentile, the historical maltreatment of Master over slave, the historical abuse of men upon women was never God’s design but with the advent of Christ and with the bringing in of all these differences relationships into the Church the former animosity between these groups is vanquished. BUT saying that former animosity is vanquished and saying that all are now equal in role is to say very different things.

With the advent of Christ and the presence of His Kingdom what the leaven of the Gospel works through home, church, and culture is not the elimination and flattening out of the richness of the varied social tapestry that constitutes life but rather the putting right of the social tapestry that was rent by the fall. With the extension of the Kingdom of Christ what we should expect to find is neither a gender blender society, nor a society where labor and capital distinctions are gathered up into some kind of socialistic nirvana, nor a society where ethnic distinctions are effaced. With the extension of the Kingdom of Christ we should anticipate the restoration of true masculinity and femininity is on display in marriages where incredibly intelligent wives eagerly submit to incredibly humble husbands, who are in a haste to love their wives sacrificially. With the extension of the Kingdom of Christ we should anticipate a renewed harmony of interests between Master and Slave where each realizes that their own interests are best served by looking out for the interest of the other. With the extension of the Kingdom of Christ we should anticipate the different nations (ethnos) being brought into the Kingdom so that on that last day they will enter in to the new Jerusalem nation by nation so that what is heard is the beautiful harmony of multi part Choir where every still distinct tribe, tongue and nation render praise unto the King of Kings. The extension of the Kingdom of Christ does not result in a situation where all the ‘colors bleed into one.’ That is a socialistic humanistic vision. The extension of the Kingdom of Christ results in the old Puritan notion of the ‘harmony of interests.’

Returning to our boulders we must mention one last boulder that the ship of hermeneutical feminism crashes against as it seeks to twist Galatians 3:28 to its end. The last boulder is that the reading that ‘Evangelical’ Feminism is trying to use for Galatians 3:28 proves too much. If it really is the case that social order distinctions are eliminated in Christ, including that of maleness and femaleness then the Church has little room left to oppose homosexuality in the Church. If Galatians 3:28 teaches that there is no longer male or female in Christ, and if that means that traditional distinctions between men and women no longer exist because of Christ’s Kingdom, then how can we maintain that sexual distinctions are an exception? More then that if the presence of Christ’s Kingdom provides the kind of egalitarianism that these hermeneutical wizards insist upon then where is the room for parental authority over children? If children are equal to parents because they are all in Christ then on what basis can parents require obedience? If that reductio sounds stupid it is supposed to. The only reason that otherwise normal people no longer find the reasoning of ‘Evangelical’ feminists to be equally stupid when it comes to their egalitarian appeals is because we have slowly been conditioned to accept it. In this culture and in the Western Church I may have to live with it but I don’t accept it.

There remain functional differences between gender, labor and ethnic categories. We all are ontologically human but functionally speaking there remains God honoring differences. We all have the same value before God, all being made in God’s image, but just as in a choir both the mezzo Soprano and the Alto are ontologically human, they remain functionally separated. Both of their functions are needed for a good choir and are to be esteemed in their place. A good choir doesn’t get better by making every one sing the same bland part. The same kind of thing is true when it comes to the insipid blandness that is being reached for in terms of male and female, slave and free, Jew and Gentile by the egalitarians among us.

Now returning to Galatians 3:28 we may ask ourselves why the Apostle chooses the three couplets of ‘male – female, slave and free, Jew and Gentile?

Of course we can’t say authoritatively because the text doesn’t authoritatively say but we perhaps can make a pretty good guess. The answer may be very much in keeping with the context that is going on here.

In vs. 29 the Church is reminded that they are ‘heirs according to the promise.’ Now in order to be an heir their must be an inheritance and quite obviously that inheritance is all the blessings that we have in Christ Jesus. In choosing the couplets that he chooses the Holy Spirit may be intimating the superior character of the new and better covenant as opposed to the old and worse covenant. Under the Old Testament law, Greeks, slaves, and females could not inherit land and property directly. These were restricted in the life of the old covenant. However in the New and better covenant the anti-type inheritance has come to which the inheritance of land and property in the OT was only a type, and it comes in such a way that people from every tribe, tongue, nation, class, gender, and economic strata can directly inherit. The inheritance cocoon that was the Old covenant produces a butterfly inheritance that is beyond and above what anybody in the Old covenant could have anticipated. No boundaries are erected to the inheritance of salvation. All may inherit. All may become sons of God.

And the effect of the fullness of that inheritance coming to more and more people including the renewal that is part of it is not an ugly egalitarianism where all distinction and diversity is crushed. That can only be some kind of Unitarian vision where the singleness and unitary character of God produces a bland and unitary character of culture. No, the Trinitarian Christian vision is that the effect of the inheritance coming to more and more people makes for a renewal where people in their different God honoring roles and places work increasingly together to advance the Glory of God by honoring God in the places and roles to which they have been placed and called.

Cultural Marxism

“Since the end of WW II American society has been suffering decomposition and deconstruction. Consider what we have come to in seven decades. The distinctiveness of marriage has been abolished (Baird v. Eisentadt); prayer and Bible reading in schools has bee stamped out (Abington, Schemp, et al.); the mother’s womb has become the most dangerous place for a baby (Roe v. Wade, et al.); the rights (but not the duties) of fathers and parents of minor girls have been voided (Planned Parenthood v. Danforth); divorce has become easier than marrying; the Ten commandments have been banned from public view; and now the natural distinction between male and female is being abolished. (Goodridge, Lawrence, etc.). The Pledge of Allegiance is forbidden; the Boy Scouts are under attack; and Christmas carols are banned. Pornography is everywhere.

The structure of American society is being demolished brick by brick. Within a few short years, Americans will have reached the ‘liberty’ desired by Jean-Jacques Rosseau, the abolition of every particular dependency. This is what Hannah Arendt called the ‘atomistic mass,’ a precondition for the establishment of totalitarianism.”

Dr. Harold O. J. Brown
Powers, Principalities, Spiritual Forces:Charging Towards the Dies Irae

Now people can believe that this all happened by sheer happenstance and coincidence if they desire. There is truth in the idea that cultural wreckage doesn’t have to be minutely orchestrated and conspired towards when a people as a whole no longer recite to themselves why they do the things that they do, or what the meaning is in their traditions. When people forget why those who went before believed it was a good idea to be married before having babies then naturally they are going to be more prone to believe the new elites who tell them that marriage is an option. When people forget why those who went before them thought that killing their offspring was a bad idea naturally they are going to be more inclined to believe the new school that teaches that choice is what matters most. When people forget why their culture was the way it was — when they forget why the boundary markers were placed where they were, then they are going to be much more sanguine about removing the boundary markers and placing them elsewhere. Still, despite that observation remaining completely true, that doesn’t mean that along the way cultural gatekeepers didn’t have a particular agenda they were consciously pursuing that has led us to this time and this place.

Legion are the corrupt schools of thought that have led us to this place. One could name Dewey’s Instrumentalism. One could name legal positivism. One could name existentialism. One could name analytic Psychology. All of these have contributed to the slide that Dr. Brown mentions. One that doesn’t get a great deal of play time that perhaps is has important as all those named is the Frankfort school of thought.

The Frankfort school originated in post WWI Germany and was dedicated to examining why Marxist theory failed. Marxist theory had believed that the proletariat would rise up and throw off the oppression of the Bourgeois and yet the working class during WW I marched off and savagely fought one another in defiance of Marxist class theory. This failure pushed some men into asking the question ‘why.’

Two men, working independently of one another happened upon the same answer. According to Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukacs and Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci the reason that the proletariat failed to coalesce together was the baleful influence of Western Culture. Lukacs and Gramsci determined that if key components of Marxist utopian teleology were to be arrived at then Western culture, largely shaped as it was by Christian categories, would have to be undone. While Marx had insisted that every thing must be interpreted through economics and an oppressed class, Lukacs and Gramsci realized that every thing must be interpreted through culture and oppressed interest groups.

While traditional Marxist appealed to Marx’s later writings, the school that became known as ‘cultural Marxism’ or ‘neo-Marxism’ appealed to Marx’s earlier writings. This Frankfut school, beginning in 1923 dedicated itself to reinterpreting Marx from economic categories into cultural categories. Led by such luminaries as Georg Lukacs, Herbert Marcuse, and Theodor Adorno (Gramsci was rotting away in a Mussolini jail) the Frankfurt school set themselves to the task of ‘de-Christianizing’ the West. What should not be missed here is that these men realized that success lie in waging a successful theological war. While they may not have put it in such terms, in realizing that Western Culture must be overturned before Marxist goals could be realized they were in essence recognizing that the Theology that made the West must be crushed if their New World Order was to be realized. One insight that they happened upon was the necessity to do a ‘long march through the institutions’ of the West. By this they showed that they understood that a culture is largely a reflection of and a product of the institutions that provide the infra-structure that hold a society together. Their plan was to infiltrate and capture the cultural institutions that held Western Society together (Law, Education, Family, Arts, Churches, Economics, Journalism, etc.) thus assuring the eclipse of Christianity and therefore the West.

With the advent of National Socialism in Germany things got uncomfortable for these academics and their think tank with the consequence that they packed up and moved to New York City until the end of WWII. The school picked up new lights in men like Psychologist Erich Fromm and sociologist Willhem Reich and it set about the business of writing and publishing. Now in order to be true to its Marxist base the school needed to find a replacement for Marx’s proletariat working class by which the heavy lifting of revolution could be accomplished. Rushing in to fill that gap came the disaffected, the cultural outcasts, and those whom Western cultural had rightly marginalized. The new proletariat would be comprised of the natural enemies of Western Christian culture and who would gain by that Western culture being overthrown. In Biblical language what cultural Marxism intended to do by making the new proletariat the disaffected was to make the head the tail and the tail the head. The Sexual pervert, the bra burning feminist, and those who perceived themselves as being victims because of their ethnicity and who nourished that perception and who believed that they were owed because of their long suffering oppression would be the ‘New Man’ for the New World Cultural Marxist order.

Books began to be published. Theodor Adorono’s ‘Authoritarian Personality,’ basically argued that anybody who belonged to Western Culture and relfected Western Culture was suffering from a kind of Psychological disease that needed to be cured. Eros and Civilization fell from the pen of Herbert Marcuse which combines Marx with Freud and argues that a liberated Eros will lead to a more satisfactory culture. In short once all the high octane intellecutal mumbo jumbo is interpreted what Marcuse argues for is lots of sex with lots of people in lots of non-marriage settings. Also, a new social theory called ‘Critical Theory’ was constructed by the Frankfort School. Critical Theory was dedicated to destructive criticism of the current Western social order with the purpose of fomenting a non-violent social revolution in America. At its heart Critical Theory is dedicated to bringing an end to the perceived oppression of Western Culture. Critical Theory is not intended to offer a viable alternative, since a truly free culture without oppression can not be envisioned given the existence of Western Culture. Critical theory is a negative tool intended only to rapaciously critique the faults of Western Culture. Eventually one begins to be able to connect the dots between the Critical Theory of Horkheimer and the Frankfort school and the Deconstructionism so prevalent in Western Universities today. Critical Theory saw the hands of Western oppression in every text and labored to point out how the putative oppressors were advantaged by whatever Critical Theory was critiquing. Critical Theory dismissed any ideas of objectivity in that which was being critiqued and saw instead only advantages of power and position of favored groups over the new proletariat (the perverts, the angry feminists, the victim classes).

Sub-movements have spun off this Cultural Marxism. Political correctness is the political speech wing of the movement. Cultural Marxism has created an environment where speaking against the new proletariat is the same kind of crime that speaking against the working class was in the old Soviet Union. To be charged with Racism, Sexism, or homophobia today is the equivalent of speaking against the party in Stalin’s USSR. Certain speech codes are implemented and refusal to abide by these codes labels one as insensitive, or intolerant. Another sub-movement is multi-culturalism. Since the desired end of Cultural Marxism is the death of the West then the advocacy of all other cultures to be equally esteemed by Westerners serves not to lift these other cultures up but rather serves to pull Western culture down. Finally, in my opinion, the desire for illegal immigration at the very least serves the ends of Cultural Marxism. The best way to end Western Culture is by injecting a new non Western citizenry into nations shaped by Western Culture.

In many respects Cultural Marxism is to Christianity and Christians what National Socialism was to the Jewish Religion and to Jews. Just as German National Socialist sought a Third Reich absent of Jewish presence so Cultural Marxism seeks a New World Order absent of any Christian presence. Their success thus far is seen in the beginning quote. In 70 short years they have, along with other anti-Christ dogmas, poisoned the West to the point that Western Man is in danger of no longer knowing who he is (a person comprised of body and soul) or where he came from (the hand of the creator God) or where he is going (Kingdom of heaven).

The West will not last 70 more years of Gramsci’s ‘long march through our institutions.’

Do We Learn By Experience?

“While people often claim moreover to learn by ‘experience,’ it is rather from an intellectual analysis of experience that they learn, if at all, in such cases.”

Carl F. H. Henry
God, Revelation & Authority — Vol.1 pg. 264

Clearly what Dr. Henry is suggesting is that we do not learn by experience but rather we learn by how we interpret our experience. This can be the only explanation for two or more people going through the same experience and ‘learning’ different things from that experience. This is only to say that our presuppositions about the nature of God and of His reality inform us as to interpreting our experiences. A Christian and non-Christian going through the same difficult experience will come out of that difficult experience with substantially different conclusions. The Christian will interpret the experience through the eyes of confidence in God’s character and be able to say with that ‘God intended it for good,’ while the non-Christian will often use the experience as proof that God is absent.

Dr. Henry’s observation is why I am forever encouraging people to interpret life through God’s promises and to resist interpreting God through the difficult circumstances and vicissitudes of life. If God be for us who can be against us? If God is for us then whatever adversity he sends us in this vale of tears will he not turn it to our good?

This kind of certainty should make a HUGE difference in the way that we interpret our experiences.

Another point that Dr. Henry seems to be making is that people don’t learn by experience but rather they learn by thinking. This is a key concept in an age that is experience oriented. Experience does not shape us but rather how we think about experience. Similarly, neither do we learn or think by emotion. Emotion is the consequence of thinking and interpreting something we experience in a certain way. This is why I’ve never been able to understand the idea that people ‘think with their emotions.’ Nobody has ever thought with their emotions since emotions are the consequence of some kind of previous thinking. If I am experiencing the emotion of sadness it is because I am thinking a certain way about some kind of experience. The same holds true for every other kind of emotion. It is not possible for emotion to be the ground of our thinking since emotions are but visible manifestation of the kind of thing we are thinking. Even in an age of image where we speak of our emotions being manipulated, what is really the case is that our thinking is being manipulated.

All of this is why, then, the Scripture teaches not ‘as a man experiences so he is’, or ‘as a man’s emotions are he is’, but rather ‘as a man thinketh in His heart, so he is.’

Bugs Bunny And The Nature Of Reality

When I was a boy, like most boys, I watched cartoons. Because of some recent cogitations one particular cartoon keeps replaying in my head as an illustration for the nature of reality. In this cartoon one of the characters gives another one of the characters (I think it was Elmer and Bugs) several whaps over the head with a mallet (pretty standard cartoon fare here). The result of which is several lumps growing out where the mallet fell. At this point one of the characters pushes the lumps in only to find out that they come back out at another point on the head. You see the lumps can be pushed in but they don’t go away. They merely find expression someplace else.

I have become convinced that this is the nature of reality. Things don’t go away. Even when we try to make them go away they come out someplace else. Perhaps some examples will serve to clarify the point that I am making.

The most obvious example is somebody’s insistence that they are an A-theist. They proclaim that they have pushed God out of their reality. But have they really? Do they really operate without a God in their reality? Rather isn’t it the case that they have chosen instead to hide from themselves the fact that they are serving as their own God? The individual has ascended to the most high to take his position as the Almighty. The typical John in American practices Johnism, the typical American Becky practices Beckyism, the typical Andy in American practices Anydism while his American Wife Amanda practices Amandaism. A God concept hasn’t really gone away in their reality. They have pushed it in on one side only to fail to see how it has grown back up someplace else.

Another example of what I am trying to get at is the idea of Priests. A Priest is a person who represents the people to God. The Priest is the one who is in charge of making sin and guilt go away. Most Americans except for a few Catholics would tell you that the whole idea of ‘Priest’ is pass`e in our country. We have pushed that lump in and told ourselves that it is gone forever but I submit that we have failed to see it projecting in other places. We are just as consumed with Priests as any ancient culture that has ever been. The only difference is that we hide it from ourselves by not calling our modern Shamans ‘Priests,’ using instead words like Psychiatrist or Psychologist. We are our own gods but we find ourselves being uncomfortable with ourselves (that discomfort being our sin) and as a result we go to the Priests so that the sin and guilt of being uncomfortable with ourselves might be taken away.

Another example is predestination. Predestination can’t be effaced. Either we will submit to God’s predestination or we will try to create some other kind of predestination. In Aldous Huxley’s book, ‘Brave New World,’ we find the State having a category called ‘sociological predestinators.’ In our current culture we have school to work programs that are in essence an example of the State seeking to predestinate the future of the child. Another example is a kind of strong behaviorism that suggests that a person is completely controlled by their (predestinating) environment. Predestination is part of God’s reality and we will either submit to His teaching on the doctrine or fallen men will create bastard predestination.

Another example is imputation. Here is another word that would leave most people scratching their head if you asked them if imputation was an important concept. We Moderns think that we are done with imputation. We have pushed that lump in but again we have failed to see where it is now protruding. We no longer talk about our sins being imputed to Christ but without realizing it we are forever seeking to impute our sins someplace else. Since ours is a humanistic religion instead of having our sins imputed to Christ we seek to impute them to one another. Having rejected the Scapegoat that God provided in Christ we now spend our lives looking for other people and people groups to be our Scapegoats wherein we can impute our sins. We go to our Priests (the Shrinks) and we discover that the reason we cannot live with ourselves (our greatest sin that needs dealt with) is due to our parents or our environment or because of those minorities that are taking over everything and as a result we impute our sin of not liking ourselves to them. They must be the scapegoat. They become the one who must bear our sins, and so we impute our sins to them. Imputation is alive and well and will never go away. No matter how hard we push that lump in; it always comes out on the other side.

Another example that might be elucidated is religion in general. Many moderns would characterize themselves as irreligious, which is quite a religious characterization. I read an article this week by Richard Dawkins saying that we should get rid of religion. Is that possible or is that just another example of somebody trying to push the lump in on one side, lying to himself that it will not come out on the other side? Religion is the attempt to live in accord with the prevailing Deity. In false religion it is the attempt to manipulate the prevailing Deity. For modern man Religion is now politics. Not only individually but also corporately we are the Deity and the way to manipulate the Deity is to seize control of its control apparatus for our own varied humanistic machinations. As a result politics is the most vocal aspect of religion among many moderns.

How about catechism? How many people do you know who have their children catechized into their religion? Most people would say that catechism is a relic from the past. Nobody does catechism anymore. Catechism is something religious extremists do. Yet, every time a child watches television, every time a child goes to school, every time a child reads a teen magazine, every time a child listens to the radio, every time a child reads a book, every time a child plays with play station II, they are being catechized into some religion. Catechism into ones religion hasn’t gone away. It is just that our religion of modernity is so close to our skin that we don’t even realize how it is we are constantly catechizing our children into the religion of modernity. Catechism is most effective when the children and the parents don’t even know they are being catechized. So you see, we push the lump of catechism in, and we tell ourselves it has gone away, but we fail to see where it has reappeared somewhere else on the old noggin of reality.

If you want to talk about systems of thought the same things applies. Take Communism as an example. Has it escaped dealing with God’s reality or as it instead just pushed the bump on one side of the head in only to find it protruding on the other side? Marx who said that ‘religion…is the opiate of the people,’ gave us a religion called Communism which has a doctrine of salvation that is a deliverance from the oppressive bourgeoisies masters. The Communist religion has its Messiah in the proletariat; its paradise in the classless society; its church in the party; and its Scriptures in the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and, for many years, Stalin. Marx and communism didn’t make the reality of religion go away. It only rearranged the pieces. Reality can’t go away.

This approach applies also too more micro examples as well I think. What I mean by that is sometimes you will hear people say things like . “We need to get rid of hate and intolerance.” If my premise is correct that is not possible. Hate and intolerance is a lump that never goes away. Pushed in on one side it will come up again on another side. Intolerance and hate in the right way can be a positive good. Intolerance and hate in the wrong way is a positive evil. Be assured, though, that every person you ever meet will have the category of intolerance and hate in their reality. It is not possible to get rid of hate and intolerance. The challenge for the Christian is to hate and not tolerate what God hates and doesn’t tolerate.

Nearer to home you will hear some Christians say that we no longer live under the law. They have supposedly gotten rid of ‘law’ from their reality. But is it a law that they are free from the law? Reality bites. Other Christians will say that they have gotten rid of tradition. Tradition is something that only Roman Catholics subscribe to. So, what they are saying is that it is their tradition to live without tradition? Reality bites again. They can keep pushing in those lumps all they want but those lumps just keep reappearing in other places.

All of us have the same reality. Reality and the categories or reality are unavoidable and inevitable. Martin Luther worked with the same reality that Karl Marx did. Margaret Sanger worked with the same reality as Fannie Crosby did. Milton Berle worked with the same reality as Mahatma Ghandi. We can neither increase it nor decrease it, nor change its categories. We can move the furniture around or push the lumps in but none of us get new furniture and all of us live with the same lumps. The trick is being able to get to the point of being able to see to the bottom of what is going on in how people arrange their reality furniture.

The challenge then for the Christian becomes to have our reality correspond to God’s reality. The way our reality gets messed up is when men start with themselves as their beginning premise as opposed to starting with the God of the Bible as their beginning premise. This was Eve’s mistake in the garden and it remains our mistake today. When men start from themselves they take God’s categories and turn them upside down and inside out. They don’t get different reality but they invert the reality that is by calling good, ‘evil’ and evil, ‘good.’ They call beautiful, ‘ugly’ and ugly ‘beautiful.’ They call true, ‘false’ and false, ‘true.’ They in essence call God a liar. But even in doing so they don’t get a different reality because real reality is immutable. The reality that is expressed by those who make themselves the determiner of all facts is a reality that is antithetical to the reality that the God of the Bible calls for but it is still working with the only reality that is.

Reality doesn’t go away.