Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Beyond the Reformation of Politics


Alec Ryrie, professor of Christianity at England's Durham University, penned an insightful essay here for Modern Age Journal entitled "Beyond the Reformation of Politics". He reports that Luther believed governments were ordained by God to restrain sinners and little else. Real transformation of individuals and thus societies, he reasoned, could be achieved only by a changed heart, which is the work of the church, not government.

Luther’s view on politicians in his work Temporal Authority, was soberingly realistic:

"They  can  do  no  more  than  strip  and  fleece,  heap  tax  upon  tax.  .  .  .  Since  the  beginning of the world a wise prince is a mighty rare bird, and an upright prince even rarer. They are generally the biggest fools or the worst scoundrels on earth."

"In Luther's view," writes Ryrie, "God permits these scoundrels to rule because 'the world is too wicked, and does not deserve to have many wise and upright princes.' Anticipating (James) Madison, Luther argued that it is only because of human sin that God had instituted government at all, in order to make some limited semblance of peace and order possible. His point, deeply counter intuitive to most modern sensibilities, is that government is not very important. It is necessary in a humdrum way for as long as this passing world endures, but Christians should not pay much attention to it."

That is the antithesis of the theology and political activism of many modern evangelicals, who seem to prefer access to temporal power more than faithfulness to a kingdom and King not of this world.

While Ryrie himself is not an "apolitical Protestant", he observes that "the claim that politics is an inherently corrupt and rotten business with little power to effect positive change in ordinary people’s lives sounds less like a theological claim than a self-evident truth—as indeed has long been the case across much of the world." He goes on to admit that "that a large part of human misery and flourishing  does  in  fact  lie  beyond  the  power  of  any government, and therefore that there are better  responses  to  the  ills  of  our  age  than  impotent rage at a ruling class."

Ryries's essay is recommended reading in entirety.

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I think Luther's perspective has some merit. There are some parallels to Rod Dreher's "Benedict Option" outlined here which calls for incubating our faith from a fatally corrosive mainstream culture. It's now quickly becoming apparent to all but the most jaded among Christians that worldly politics tends to groom the worst in fallen mankind - even among those with the best of intentions. The vast majority of those who enter politics with the noblest of intentions and determined to remain pure must choose one of two alternatives against the overwhelmingly prevalent corruption, greed, lust for power and sexual immorality:  either (1) abandon the sewer of politics after a short term to remain untainted, or (2) become one of "the biggest fools or the worst scoundrels on earth".

A good illustration of how disconnected from reality (i.e., truth) that politicians are is the recent survey by Pew Research here that an astonishing 77% of college-educated Democrats believe that a man can be a woman if he just says so, regardless of his biology, genetics, and genitalia. Luther was right; they are the "biggest fools" on earth. The incestuous relationship between far too much of the church and politicians will (at best) damage the credibility and witness of the church. At worst, it will pollute their faith and divert their focus from their first love.

As Cal Thomas admonishes,

Principles are still being swallowed today in exchange for a false sense of influence and power.

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus says about the church at Ephesus, which had been strongly influenced by the Emperor's cult and worship of the Greek goddess Artemis: "You have left your first love," meaning Himself (Rev 2:4).

For too many modern Protestants, politics has become a cult and their "Artemis." They are forgetting their first love, the consequences of which can be found in history, dating back to Israel's King David, who warned, "Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save" (Psalm 146:3).


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Amen.

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