Friday, October 4, 2019

The Shortcomings of Today’s Christianity

Recently, N. T. Wright visited Samford University.  One of the recorded events was a conversation with Wright – a Q&A with questions from student and faculty from the university.  I offer some thoughts on the first part of the conversation, as this part reflects the failures of the Christian church in playing a proper role in holding government and society accountable regarding war and violence.

This session was held on September 11.  I mention the date, because the first question reflects this anniversary:

How should Christians approach the societal evil and suffering that seems to plague our world at a systemic level?

Wright’s answer, summarized:

One of the things I reflected on in the two or three years subsequent to the attacks was this sudden interest of evil on the parts of the western leaders.  This told me something about the post-Enlightenment mindset which seemed to assume that because we had modern science and technology and modern democracy, the world was becoming a better, safer, and nicer place.

He points to Steven Pinker as one who presses such a view: with the Enlightenment and the large-scale abandonment of religion, everything is getting better – with fewer wars, etc.  This is a silly case to make, according to Wright – and with this I agree. 

However, I am not sure that this is the most convincing part of Wright’s response.  Proponents of such an idea will point out that it was (per the mainstream narrative) unenlightened Muslim religious fanatics who carried out the attack. 

But he quickly moves on, to the Churchill’s idea that “jaw, jaw is better than war, war.”  Advice Churchill never took, unfortunately.  In any case, instead of talk, the western response was to go to the weapon of last resort: the weapon.

The danger of this, using Shakespeare’s phrase, is that you unleash the dogs of war.  And there is the sense of invoking the god Mars, the war god, the god of naked power. 

There is this deep ambiguity in western culture where there is so much of the Christian and Judeo-Christian tradition…but at the same time we look back to the great wars of the past and commemorate them not always with the greatest of humility and sorrow, but sometimes with the idea “when we needed to do the job, we did the job.”  That seems to me to be dangerous.

It does not help the case when we see that it is often in churches on Sunday morning when such sentiments are at the highest – making a total mockery of “what would Jesus do.”

He suggests that this idea opens the door to the kind of worship of violence which then eats away at the vitals of society.  He points to the mass gun violence in American society and sees this as part of the continuum of the violence perpetrated in the world by America.

While I think the issue of internal violence is more complicated than this, there certainly is something to the idea that if it is acceptable for the government to act in a certain way, it must be acceptable for the rest of us.  To state it most succinctly: government is seen by many to be corrupt, and this then corrupts the society that is being so governed.

Wright offers that the reaction to September 11 was very immature, recalling that he offered – during a visit to Westminster Abbey – that for every bomb dropped, another Al-Qaeda recruit would come forward.  He offers that, in hindsight, he understated this relationship. 

We have overplayed our hand, allowing them to cast this as “the Christians beating up on the Muslims.”  It seems to me that this is not the best way to indicate what following Jesus is all about.

For sure it is not.

There follows a question about the role of Christians in politics, and the idea of shedding partisan ties.  It is this last bit that Wright addresses first: Wright recognizes that the political mood is different in America than elsewhere in the West, and even different in the different parts of America.

I think this can be plainly seen via the idea of flyover country, the deplorables, the red counties vs. blue counties, the urban vs. the rural.  Along with countless minor divisions in America, there is this major one: to greatly summarize, one side values western tradition and the other wants to destroy it.

The church has the power and vocation to hold the world to account.  That’s difficult.  The church has to learn the lesson about supporting without collusion and critiquing without dualism. 

He suggests that many Christians get caught up in supporting the individual politician regardless of policies or action, believing that this individual is the one sent by God or some such.  One can think of the Christian right and the view that they will back Trump, no matter what.  But it seems true on the left as well – while they might not use the same words, Obama was certainly seen as the perfect savior by many – one who could do no wrong.

Further, we must critique – not get trapped in the idea that “this world is not my home, I’m just passing through.”  This is a cop-out.  It seems to me a discredit to this world of God’s creation.


We in the west are just not well taught and we don’t think about these things, but we need to.  Are we content to just vote every few years and move on?  Jefferson said that democracy only works when you have an educated electorate.  We now have a smart-phone electorate.  What are we going to do about that?  I don’t have an answer, but the church ought to be at the forefront of prayerfully working toward a better answer than we currently have.

I have some thoughts about what to do about it: stop glorifying war, stop glorifying Zionism as the fulfillment of Scofield’s eschatology, condemn the idea of punishing people for non-violent trespasses.  Instead, deliver a message of meaning in life, fulfilling the purpose of God’s creation – being made in God’s image.

Such steps will not only revive Christianity, they will also move a society toward liberty.


  1. Agree with you on ditching Scofied and his fraudulent interpretation of the Bible, but I'm curious how this managed to pass:

    "There is this deep ambiguity in western culture where there is so much of the Christian and Judeo-Christian tradition"

    'Judeo-Christian' is a propaganda term invented in the mid 20th century. There is no more a 'judeo-christian' tradition than there is an 'islamo-judean' tradition. The two religions are completely different, and in fact are opposed in many ways. One of which is pointed out in your critique of Christians who are just 'passing through' the world.

    The use of that nonsense term must be jettisoned along with Scofield and his Zionist-funded propaganda piece.

    1. As I was citing Wright, I left the term as he said it. I have dealt with the term before and have felt it cumbersome to write the same comments every time the term is used.

      However, to be clear (from my viewpoint): without Christ, the "Judeo" part of "Judeo-Christian" is just another religion. We have a slave tribe, a warring a conquering tribe, a tribe who worshiped other gods, a tribe that was again conquered - not much different than any other tribe, in other words. Except for the parts that pointed to Christ.

      What is important from the "Judeo" part of the tradition is that which pointed to Christ. Without Christ, Judeo is hollow. I suspect (certainly hope) that God would not disagree with me, else it would seem that He sent His son for no reason.

    2. The problem with the term "Judeo-Christian" is that people think of the modern heresy that passes for Judaism these days. The morals found in the Old testament apply today just as they did then. The Old Testament points to the coming of the Messiah to, first, die for the sins of the world, and after His resurrection and ascension, to return to earth in glory and power to rule with a rod of iron.

      Most dispensationalists have trouble with Scofield and his extreme forms. Scripture is dispensational, but no where does it come near to Scofield's warped version.

    3. A certain "Unhappy" commenter years ago used to point out that those who employ the term "Judeo-Christian" never seem to use the more justly earned term "Judeo-Bolshevic".

  2. In the medieval era of the West, life was saturated in a Christianity interrupted by work. The day was spent in matins, lauds, prime, tierce, sext, nones, vespers, and compline. At the conclusion of each one might then eat, sleep, or work. The cathedral was the center of life its massive powerful bells sounding out canonical hours as if to underscore and intensify the lived Christian reality. Ones fundamental and elemental identity all across Europe was Christian. Nationalism had yet to be invented. Protestantism reworked Christianity into nationalism. Science reworked nationalism into communism and to this day Marxists stubbornly insist Marxism is a 'science'. Modern man's life is saturated in economics - working and buying - interrupted occasionally if at all, by Christianity. Kierkegaard's solution to 'revive' Christianity was to conceded that science had indeed reworked the Western mind to the point that it was no longer possible to experience life in the wondrous mystical magical terms fundamental to medieval Christianity. This marvelous mystical mode of the past was truncated down to a single binary proposition: Do you believe, yes or no ? Do you believe, in spite of the fact that science has made belief impossible ? Christianity is no longer an aesthetic mode of being but a kind of theoretical proposition in which one is expected to affirm the truth of the theory precisely because the the weight of natural evidence falsify the theory.

  3. Today's Christianity IS the shortcoming!

    What was Christendom (Christians dominionizing all of society) in early 1600 America has tragically devolved into mere four-walled, stain-glassed, pewtrifying Christianity, what, in Matthew 5:13, Christ depicted as salt that's lost its savor, good for nothing but to be trampled under the foot of man.

    America doesn't need more churches. The more churches, the more infanticide clinics, sodomite parades, drag queen library shows, abominable legislation, etc.

    God did not call Christians to church but to ecclesia, that is, to form Christian communities in the fullest sense of the word. In turn, this means dominionizing society, including government, per Romans 12:21, 13:1-7, 1 Corinthians 6:1-6, 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, etc.

    Time for Christians to once again take seriously their dominion mandate and actually be a light to the world and the salt of the earth.

    For more, see free online book "The Romans 13 Template for Biblical Dominion..." at

    1. Today's Christianity IS the shortcoming!

      What is called Christianity today is nothing more than a bunch of Wolves in Sheeps clothing. The very idea of calling it Christian is like a slap in Christ's face.
      By their fruits?

  4. The church has the power and vocation to hold the world to account. That’s difficult. The church has to learn the lesson about supporting without collusion and critiquing without dualism.
    Just this statement should scare the hell our of people.
    For it fulfills this to a T.
    These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

    14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

    15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
    The church has been agreeing and giving their power to the beast since our Revolution. and long before that as well. AS long as modern church keeps and holds their Idolatry of worshiping man made Govt. revelations 17 will be fulfilled.
    Romans 13 had nothing to do with obeying secular Govt. Power is translated as Exousia which when looked up its meaning is liberty not govt.
    Thayer's Greek Lexicon:



    1) power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases

    1a) leave or permission
    By that Romans 13 should say:
    “Letevery soul be subject unto the higher liberty. For thereis no liberty but of God: the liberties that beare ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the liberty,resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receiveto themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works,but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the liberty? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” Romans 13: 1,3
    and more proof:
    The books of Judges are your proof as well as to what the problem is and why, and along with 1st Samuel when Israel asked for a king.God told Samuel to do what they asked but said they don't reject him they reject me as their God and go whoring and worshiping other idols as they have done since he took them out of Egypt.
    Idol worship isn't just statues it's us putting men in charge instead of God and therefore fulfills the anti Christ or man of sin and perdition. Were the ones sitting in the temple saying we are god and above god as what 2nd Thessalonians said. This is how prophecy is fulfilled not some super human and charismatic man individual but us as one man.
    the proof of this is in Nehemiah 8 vs 1 and another place in Ezra.
    Until we have a Gideon and put away all our idols/(Man)made govts and have Jesus Christ as our sole king and not men then nothing we do to stem this tide of Govt will do anything.

    1. "The church has the power and vocation to hold the world to account."

      Where is this church?

  5. It is a tough path to tread for the Christian. He cannot become too worldy or too spiritual. The former leads to an abandonment of God's Word and the latter the abandonment of God's Creation. There'a a line to walk.

    I believe we are called to be stewards of not only the Word, but of Creation as well. We are called on not only to believe in the Good and to be good but to do good in the world as well. We must be mindful, however, that we cannot rely upon fundamentally Satanic organizations (the State) to do the good in the world we wish to achieve nor can we rely on any other 'ends justify the means' plans of action.

    All libertarians and all Christians should be fundamentally aligned in the principle that the ends don't justify the use of unethical means.

    We cannot fall into the same errors as the social gospel or progressive Christians of the early 20th century or their descendants the Neocons. Or Tolkien's Saruman who aligned himself with the enemy if only to conspire to usurp his power and to bring about a benevolent dictatorship under his command.

    Christianity can't become simply a crusade for better living standards or for social inclusion of marginalized groups without losing its meaning and its purpose.

    But how to strike the balance between the City of Man and the City of God, especially when we're all so entrenched in the former? Did Jesus' teachings even condone self defense? I'm not so certain that they did. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, assuming it was guided by the Holy Spirit for most of its existence, has some wonderful things to say about self defense starting at #1263.

    Does self defense legitimate the state? Not in my assessment, but it certainly leaves open the possibility of legitimate libertarian or private governance.

    1. My thoughts about the Christian approach to self-defense become much clearer when I think about family and responsibilities that parents have toward children.