politics

The Human Types that Make Statism Necessary

Three kinds of individuals are particularly attracted to statism, the ideology that that there is no social problem for which increased political control isn’t the best solution. It is impossible to imagine statism surviving apart from these types of people:

Imperious Statists

First, there are individuals mesmerized by the exercise of power, especially power over other people, and in modern democracies, power to “do good.” They derive meaning in life from controlling others, and they can justify this control by convincing themselves that they intend to exert power to help others, not harm them. They gravitate toward the state as the institution that owns the only valid monopoly on coercive violence because such unparalleled power is necessary to accomplish such massively virtuous social goals as they entertain. If they were in Third World countries, they’d lead or participate in a coup and install a military junta, but since that’s impossible in democracies, they opt for peaceful political power grabs. These are the imperious statists. 

Slacker Statists

Second, consider unmotivated, irresponsible, and lazy citizens that can’t count on enough people to voluntarily subsidize their laxity, so they support a state that will coerce other people to capitalize their aimlessness, irresponsibility, and laziness. You’ll often hear them castigating rich (or middle class) people or business owners as “greedy.” This is code for: “A strong-arm Robin Hood should take some of their money and give it to me.” This type is the human oil that greases the engine of socialism and other interventionist economies. These are the slacker statists. 

Patronizing Statists

Finally, note that class of citizens that envision The Good Society, and support creating a political system that will enforce it. Most citizens are too obtuse or timid to know or act for their own good, so they need strong, gifted, altruistic people to show them the way. Or, rather, force them to take the way. These are the folks who in school were often tattle-tales, enlisting the teacher to enforce rules they couldn’t persuade others voluntarily to follow. In the Covid world, they’re derided as Karens — but males can be just as guilty. These are the patronizing statists.

When these three human types come to predominate a society, it inevitably marches toward statism, and without them, it is simply inconceivable.  Changing them is not a political problem, but a cultural problem.

This means that you can’t get rid of statism by using the state to do it.

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Uncategorized

Will You Help CCL this Year’s End?

Dear friends and supporters:

A number of you have already sent a generous year-end donation. Thank you deeply.

Most Christian ministries receive a large proportion of their income at the end of the year, and CCL is no exception. If you haven’t sent a donation yet, will you consider a tax-deductible donation via PayPal or Venmo

You can also mail a check (postmarked no later than Dec. 31) to:

CCL, Box 100, Coulterville, CA 95311. 

God uses you to keep us going — and expanding.

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Church, Culture, Theology

Christmas: Excarnation Versus Incarnation

This Advent and Christmas season we celebrate the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Incarnation literally denotes enfleshment. The eternal Son of God assumed humanity as a babe in Bethlehem in order to grow to adulthood and die for the sins of the world. This death and subsequent resurrection, the source of our salvation, presuppose incarnation. Without incarnation, there can be no salvation.

Excarnation

The opposite of incarnation is excarnation, a word coined by Charles Taylor[1] to describe the modern inclination to limit all the significant issues of reality to the mind. The body and material world are simply vehicles for reason and imagination. Excarnation is indebted to ancient Gnosticism, the first and most dangerous Christian heresy that afflicts the church and culture down to this very day.[2] While the Bible located the world’s ills in human sin, Gnosticism blamed them on creation itself. An ignorant, malign deity (the Demiurge) broke from the true God and created matter, including the human body, contrary to God’s desire. The true God tried to foil the Demiurge by covertly inserting sparks of divinity into the human bodies. To the Gnostics, the Fall is not from righteousness into sin, but from spirit into matter; and salvation is escape from the body and reversion to pure spirit. This means the human body and the material world are a prison from which the enlightened must escape. Jesus came not to save from sin, but to deliver from ignorance and impart knowledge (gnosis), by which the illuminated learn of their true, excarnated destiny. For Christians, man is rescued by God’s Son becoming man in assuming (and dying and rising in) a human body. For Gnostics, man is rescued by escaping from his body, after which the divine spark is released to return to the heavenlies. Man becomes God. Excarnation is the process of man’s salvation. This heresy the antithesis of biblical orthodoxy.

Excarnation in Culture

Excarnation is increasingly a guiding tenet of Western elites. There’s nothing Christian about it. The Bible teaches that God’s norms are interwoven in the cosmos. These include gravity and thermodynamics. They include economic laws of scarce resources. Moreover, they include his norms for human sexuality. Today’s elites don’t simply wish the rebel against these laws. They want to circumvent and then abolish them. They have figured out the only way to do this is to bypass reality itself. Their vision of the Good Society is one in which all people are equal in condition, and the “marginalized” are resituated as the apex of culture. If this means redefining reality, so be it. If the human body as biologically male or female is an impediment to human imagination, sex-“reassignment” surgery is an option. If some humans are smarter, better looking, stronger, or cleverer than others, laws must be imposed that penalize their giftedness and reduce them to the level of their inferiors. Eventually, this means that their gifts must be eliminated to create true equality. If women are naturally superior nurturers and men naturally superior soldiers, men must nurture babies and women must serve in combat. TV and movies must depict lithe 120-pound women as martial arts devotees vanquishing muscular 200-pound male warriors. The ridiculousness of the idea is irrelevant; it’s the reality-bending social vision that matters. The body forbids the exercise of the rebellious imagination, so the body must be circumvented and, if necessary, abandoned. Reality doesn’t conform to the elite vision of society, so reality is irrelevant. The excarnation paradigm sees the body simply as a vehicle for the person, the “authentic self.” The person, the real you and I, is inside the body, the “ghost in the machine.” The body is like an automobile that carts us around. There’s a radical disjunction between the authentic, self-aware person, and his body. The body is simply a tool, like a screwdriver or a fork, though a highly complex one. This anthropology (view of man) has momentous implications. For one thing, it means that if the self is not fully developed, the body is unimportant. This means that there should be no barrier to abortion and euthanasia and mercy killing. After all, it’s the self that’s important, not the body. If there is no authentic self (or person on the inside), the body is disposable. Remember: the body is only there as a vehicle for the person. [3] This is the grim price we pay as a society for implementing the excarnation vision.

Excarnation in the Church

The Bible does not exalt spirit over matter; Jesus is Lord of the invisible and visible world (Col. 1:15–17). Yet ever since pagan Greek ideas of the inferiority of the material world infected Christianity, the church has battled with excarnation. Even as the church prays, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10), many Christians view the world outside the church — economics, politics, entertainment, education, and architecture — as inescapably “carnal” (fleshly) and unfit for Christian influence. So the church retreats to an excarnated spirituality. Prayer, interior dialogue, and contemplation of heaven are considered spiritual, while working to re-criminalize abortion, de-legitimize same-sex “marriage,” combat pornography, and reduce government theft programs in the form of confiscatory taxation are relatively unimportant and, in fact, a diversion from the church’s real, excarnated tasks. Escape from evil within the created order rather than confrontation with and victory over it is the excarnational agenda. Christianity is reduced to a “personal devotional hobby.”[4] But Advent stares us unflinchingly in the face with the truth that the present world, immaterial and material, is cursed by sin and is to be redeemed by the death and resurrection of our Lord. The most evil being in the universe is pure spirit, but Jesus was born and lived and died and rose from the dead and lives forever in a body. He is profoundly interested in the world, including the material world. He came healing the sick and exorcising demons from tortured bodies. To trust in the Messiah for salvation is to surrender oneself mind, soul, body — our entire self — to him (Rom. 12:1–2).  

TV and movies depict lithe 120-pound women as martial arts devotees vanquishing muscular 200-pound male warriors. The ridiculousness of the idea is irrelevant; it’s the reality-bending social vision that matters.

  He is as interested in purging sin from gansta rap and abortion clinics and fraudulent bond-rating agencies and Bauhaus architecture as he is from Christian hearts and families and churches. The cleansing power of the Gospel does not simply take souls to heaven; it transforms everything it touches.

Conclusion

This Advent season, relish the incarnational life and dismiss the excarnational vision. The body and the material world are not designed for our escape but for joy and victory. Jesus is Lord of all, and a God unashamed to be born into a barn amid farm animals is unashamed to care for and redeem every area of creation and culture presently under the dominion of sin. Christmas is a celebration of incarnation that made possible atoning bodily death and victorious bodily resurrection. Our future hope is not excarnation in a false medieval vision of angel babes and halos and harps in heaven but of the new heaven descended to a new earth purged from sin, where God will dwell eternally with us his people — on a profoundly material, but sinless, earth (Rev. 21:1–4).  


[1] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Belknap, 2007), 288.
[2] Benjamin Walker, Gnosticism, Its History and influence (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England: Aquarian Press, 1983, 1989).
[3] Robert P. George, “Gnostic Liberalism,” First Things, December 2016, 33–38.
[4] Stephen C. Perks, The Great Decommission (Taunton, England: Kuyper Foundation, 2011), 20.
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Christology, Church

The Un-Toned-Down Gospel

First-century apostate Judaism and the ancient Roman Empire did not feel threatened by a theological interpretation of the death of Jesus Christ, vital though it is to the health of the church.

Rather, they were harrowed and haunted by the message that the Jewish rabbi that had been cruelly crucified had risen bodily from the dead and ascended into the heavens, and was ruling with all authority over the entire universe.

The present regal authority of the crucified and risen Lord is a threat and affront to all autonomous humanity everywhere.

This truth is at the core of Christianity, it may never be toned down, and it must be proclaimed without reservation everywhere, at all costs.

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Culture, politics

We’re All Progressives Now

“One of the leading 20th century Christian philosophers to have outlined the development of progressivism is Augusto Del Noce. He declares that progressivism can be identified by the ‘today it is no longer possible’ mentality.

“‘Today it is no longer possible’ to bind humanity to external moral standards. Or: to argue that homosexuality and abortion are morally wrong. Or: to intelligently believe that the universe did not evolve from nothingness and chance but rather was created by an infinite personal Triune God. It is not so much that these ideas are wrong as that they are simply unthinkable to thinking people, which is to say progressive people.”

Read the rest of the article here.

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