Kevin Williamson has a great article up over at the National Review†chronicling the leftist penchant for throwing gasoline on every situation where conservatives stand their ground or perhaps even occasionally make up some ground. Over and over again we are told breathlessly that this will spell the death of millions, famines, global warming, in short, the end of the world, and yet, the world keeps not ending. So why does this happen again and again?
Williamson writes: “But many of the people one encounters at such events (from Occupy Wall Street to the tea-party rallies) are categorically unhappy, bereft and adrift in a way that is only tangentially related to politics. They turn to politics to provide a sense of meaning that might once have been provided by family or religion, two anchors from which many of us enlightened moderns have cut ourselves away. But politics provides a sense of meaning only when we convince ourselves that there is a great deal at stake. I do not know how many planning-and-zoning meetings I have been to, how many suburban school-board meetings and small-town municipal board meetings. Rarely does one get the sense that there is much that is urgent going on. They are boring, and, generally, free of drama. (Not always. A visit with the San Bernardino, Calif., city leadership will cause one to despair for democracy.) That isnít very much compared to communing with God or being a father. The people who fall into politics as a source of personal meaning must believe that whatís at stake is . . . everything . . . or at least something meaningful, otherwise ó well, thatís obvious enough. Political fanaticism is not rooted in ideology. It is the hollow clanging sound that social life makes when banging up against an empty soul.”
What Williamson is outlining is the paganization of American politics, driven by leftist fanaticism. This zeal is not merely an ideology, not merely a political party. It is becoming a way of life, an identity, a religion. Abandoning the natural and meaningful goods of family and faith in the living God will not cause the religious instinct to magically disappear or evaporate at the edicts of enlightenment. No, it will merely relocate. This is what Romans 1 teaches. Man is homo adorans — worshipping man. It is not a question of whether we will worship; it is only a question of what will we worship, who will we worship? Will we worship the Creator or some part of His creation? Leftist fanatics are pouring gasoline on every fire because every political clash or conflict has become an altar to their god State. There must be a fire on every altar. And since every altar requires a sacrifice, the knives come out. If you do not have the blood of Christ, shed once for all, rest assured that there will be blood. Only it will be the blood of some other victim. But it’s the sort of blood that never atones, never cleanses guilty consciences. And so there must always be more. Welcome to the paganization of American politics.
Closely related, David Bahnsen recently wrote about his sense that every single thing is different. Ideologies that were once semi-quarantined in universities have metastasized into popular culture. And the center of the storm is the willingness to play by no rules to crush and destroy all opposition, which tactics Christians resolutely refuse to stoop to. While Bahnsen clearly wants Christians to stand their ground despite the onslaught (and “fight like mad”), he wonders if our refusal to seek the ruin and destruction of our enemies (who seek our destruction and ruin) will be our own undoing.
Two quick thoughts:
First, as David Robertson recently noted, to the extent that modern culture is trying to revert to paganism, Christianity has every reason to be hopeful. Christianity thrived in Roman paganism and conquered European and Norse paganism. And Christianity is in the process of gutting Eastern and African paganism. This happens in two ways: on the one hand, it often happens through the blood of martyrs, Christians standing their ground and being murdered. But this is not our undoing. This not a demise for Christians. This always signals the defeat of our enemies. If you begin killing Christians, rest assured, Jesus will rise up and vindicate His own. He always has; He always will. We overcome by our testimony and not loving our lives to the death. The other way Christianity conquers paganism is simply through the proclamation of the gospel as the end of all bloody sacrifice, the fulfillment of the bloodlust that guilt ridden paganism aches with. So it’s win or win, in either case.
Second, while I completely agree with Bahnsen that Christians must not stoop to the Machiavellian tactics of the left, Christians can and must learn to fight like Christians. Christians for too long have failed to understand biblical tactics for total warfare. We do seek the destruction and ruin of our enemies in Christ. Our weapons are not carnal. We do not return evil for evil. And we will gladly return blessing for cursing. But we do not do this as pacifists and pencil necks. We do this as warfare. We heap up burning coals on the heads of our enemies, praying for God to get vengeance on them, with the hope that they would repent and become friends before it is too late. But it’s not as though our enemies are full of nasty weapons and we sit here defenseless and powerless. No, our weapons are actually stronger and mightier. We have the Psalms. We have the Word. We have water, bread, and wine. We have children, arrows in our hands, whose infant cries silence the enemy and avenger. We have laughter, joy, and peace that cannot be taken from us.
Let them cry out to their gods to save them. Their gods are nothing. Their blood sacrifices are empty and powerless. Our Jesus reigns. His blood is efficacious. And His grace is coming for many of them. They only rage because they know their doom is sure.
Photo by Melany Rochester on Unsplash
Gil Shivers says
But I don’t think that leftist fanaticism is the only place you will find this trend. Trump became President because many an evangelical was convinced the ‘Murican way of life would end if HRC got into the Whitehouse. The leftists are not the only ones who appeal to fear, division, and disruption to get elected or make policy.
That Random House bestseller “In Trump We Trust” was not written by a leftist fanatic, nor do I imagine that a bunch of leftists bought enough copies to get it onto the bestseller list. As long as this attitude is accepted, not repented of in conservative circles, Dabney’s quote will be the rule: American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition.
Gil, Yes, great point. And I agree.