“So, while we believe that the same religion may inform a variety of cultures, we may ask whether any culture could come into being, or maintain itself, without a religious basis. We may go further and ask whether what we call the culture, and the religion of a people are not different aspects of the same thing: the culture being, essentially, the incarnation (so to speak) of the religion of a people.”
~T.S. Elliot, CHRISTIANITY AND CULTURE, p.101
“In the case of kinists, the issue is not social structure, the issue is “What determines and defines a culture? Genes or faith?” As Henry Van Til demonstrated in his book, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, culture is entirely defined by religion, and this is the only Biblical conclusion we can make about a culture. No other factor defines a culture, whether genetics (racism/kinism), environment, or economic conditions (Marxism).
Mr. Bojidar Marinov
Former Communist and Bulgarian
1.) Marinov raises a false dichotomy as social structure is always related to culture. The issue for Kinists is social structure precisely because the issue is culture.
2.) Marinov reveals his odd combination of Gnosticism and Cultural Marxism in this quote. By denying who God has created us to be in our generations has anything to do with culture is to curse the reality that God created us body and soul. Marinov wants to insist that faith can be abstracted from the person who has faith, and further that said person likewise can be abstracted from his people. It is true that culture is religion externalized but it is the religion of a real live person who belongs to a real live people. Marinov’s gnostic tendencies is seen in the fact that he wants a culture driven by a religion that isn’t connected to a person who isn’t connected to a people group. Genetics does not independently create culture but it contributes to the creation of culture inasmuch as the religion externalized that creates culture is a product of a people’s faith. That this is true is painfully obvious. Not all Christian cultures throughout history have been exactly the same. Not all Christian cultures that have existed in different places have been exactly the same. What accounts for the differences in these differing Christian culture in time and place? One difference that accounts for these differences is genetics. God has created different people groups to be different and those differences expressed themselves in the differing Christian cultures that different people groups built. They all held a like Christian faith and were all counted as the people of God but the differences in the way God created different people groups, in their generations, accounts for the differences that demonstrated themselves in the Christian cultures that were uniquely built. To not recognize this and to expect that all Christians will build the same cultures is nothing but gnosticism. It is to deny the physicality of whom God created us to be in favor of some abstracted spiritual category called “religion,” as that abstracted spiritual category is thought by seemingly non-corporeal persons and peoples.
My insistence that distinctions exist between people’s (genetics) is hardly new with me. It has been a common staple of Christianity before people like Marinov have tried to reinterpret Christianity through a Marxist grid. Consider the Princeton Luminary, Charles Hodge
[The] differences between the Caucasian, Mongolian, and negro races, which is known to have been as distinctly marked two or three thousand years before Christ as it is now. . . . [T]hese varieties of race are not the effect of the blind operation of physical causes, but by those cause as intelligently guided by God for the accomplishment of some wise purpose. . . . God fashions the different races of men in their peculiarities to suit them to the regions which they inhabit.
Systematic Theology, Volume 2, Chapter 1, Section 3
And again from Hodge,
It is admitted that nations as well as tribes and families, have their distinctive characteristics, and that these characteristics are not only physical and mental, but also social and moral. Some tribes are treacherous and cruel. Some are mild and confiding. Some are addicted to gain, others to war. Some are sensual, some intellectual. We instinctively judge of each according to its character. . . . [A]dmitting that these dispositions are innate and hereditary, and that they are not self-acquired by the individual whose character they constitute, we nevertheless, and none the less, approve or condemn them according to their nature. This is the instinctive and necessary, and therefore the correct, judgment of the mind.
-Systematic Theology, Volume 2, Chapter 5, Section 6 (1872–73)
And here is Abraham Kuyper on the same matter,
The Javanese are a different race than us; they live in a different region; they stand on a wholly different level of development; they are created differently in their inner life; they have a wholly different past behind them; and they have grown up in wholly different ideas. To expect of them that they should find the fitting expression of their faith in our Confession and in our Catechism is therefore absurd.
Now this is not something special for the Javanese, but stems from a general rule. The men are not all alike among whom the Church occurs. They differ according to origin, race, country, region, history, construction, mood and soul, and they do not always remain the same, but undergo various stages of development. Now the Gospel will not objectively remain outside their reach, but subjectively be appropriated by them, and the fruit thereof will come to confession and expression, the result may not be the same for all nations and times. The objective truth remains the same, but the matter in appropriation, application and confession must be different, as the color of the light varies according to the glass in which it is collected. He who has traveled and came into contact with Christians in different parts of the world of distinct races, countries and traditions cannot be blind for the sober fact of this reality. It is evident to him. He observes it everywhere.
Is Mr. Marinov willing to label Charles Hodge and Abraham Kuyper “racist” merely because they held that genes had something (not everything) to do with culture?
3.) To suggest that the admission that genetics has an impact and so is a contributor to culture is racist is nothing but Marxist thinking. It was Marx and Marxists who have always insisted that the grand goal of social structure is Uniformity. If the differences of men, can not at least in part, be explained by who God has created us to be then the consequence of such thinking is that when all men become Christian then Nations will cease to exist. After all, if all that explains culture is religion externalized abstracted from the peoples who are externalizing that religion then when all share the same religion then all idea of peoples or Nationalities will disappear. Voila … we have arrived at John Lenon’s “Imagine.”
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
What Marinov is offering as Christianity is a type of thinking perfectly consistent with what Frederick Engels opted for in his Communism.
”What will be the attitude of communism to existing nationalities?
The nationalities of the peoples associating themselves in accordance with the principle of community will be compelled to mingle with each other as a result of this association and hereby to dissolve themselves, just as the various estate and class distinctions must disappear through the abolition of their basis, private property.”
~ Frederick Engels in “The Principles of Communism”, 1847
4.) Is it really “racist” to say that since God recognizes distinctions we should likewise? To recognize distinctions between a Greyhound and a Schnauzer is not to argue for Supremacy for either Greyhound or Schnauzer. It is merely to recognize that distinctions exist.
5.) Mr. Marinov complaint against Kinists is vitiated by the fact that a long known synonym for Culture is “Folkway.” So if we use this synonym in Dr. Henry Van Til’s definition what we get is “Folkways is religion externalized.” Obviously one can not have the externalization apart from the ways of the Folk.
Mr. Marinov’s work is reductionistic to a fault. One simply cannot have a religion to be externalized without a people doing the externalizing. One can’t have religion without people and you can’t have people without the common ties of blood, family, tribe, ethnicity, and race. To try to separate religion from people is madness.
Mr. Marinov’s theology is a throwback to his former Communist days while at the same time combined with some kind of Gnosticism. Some might contend that Mr. Marinov apparently has not yet put off the thinking in which he was originally trained. I don’t know about that. My plea is simply that Christians would see the shallowness of his arguments despite Mr. Marinov’s ability to blow impressive Marx like smoke.