The cancer of cultural Marxism in the Church, the World and the Gospel of change.
This is a short (117 pages) but important book which in my view gives a depressing but accurate summary of the current state of Western society and the the Church. Yet it does not leave us without hope.
Tinker bases much of what he says on the prophetic novel by CS Lewis That Hideous Strength which although written in 1945 was remarkably prescient about where we have ended up today.
Chapter 1 gives a summary of Lewis’s book and demonstrates the accuracy of its main predictions.
“What characterizes modernity , I think, is just this idea that men need not submit to any power – higher or lower – other than their own” (Philip Rieff.
Chapter 2 – shows how the tower of Babel remains a pattern for human rebellion against God. Chronological snobbery (“trad is bad and the latest is the greatest) can blind us to insights from previous generations. Tinker argues that communalism (where group rather than individual identity reigns), constructionism (using language to deconstruct God and create our own gods) and connectivity (using one language to connect to one another and enable their rebellion against God). I think this statement does need some qualification however. There is a communalism (the church) which is good, a constructionism (building the Kingdom of God and caring for the earth) which is constructive, not destructive and a connectivity (the tongues of Pentecost which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus rather than the tongues of Babel). Babylon imititates Jerusalem.
“What we have in the Tower of Babel episode is in effect a rival cosmology to that of God’s; it is an unmaking and a remaking of the world, a blasphemous human ‘let us’ over and against the Holy ‘let us’ of the Triune God”
In chapter three Tinker identifies cultural Marxism as the primary ideology of that Hideous Strength in todays West. This is especially true of Gramsci’s idea of hegemony whereby a dominant class exerts and maintains its influence “over people through noncoercive means such as schools, the media and marketing. Changing what Peter Berger calls the ‘plausibility structures’ of society (the background assumptions which are taken as a given) they aim to get people to think and feel for themselves that values and practices, such as SSM are common sense, fair and natural. In this regard Christianity has been sidelined, in many peoples eyes to the relevance of flat earthism.
Here Tinker has an important insight: “ One of the key tools for achieving such a change of perception and feeling is by the destabilization of language, thus enabling a new language to be devised by which the power of the elite can be exerted”. We can see how this working out in our culture today.
Another tool is the totalitarian (as opposed to the Christian) view of tolerance. Things which are perceived as preventing freedom or happiness cannot be tolerated. “ certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be exposed, certain behaviour cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument for the continuation of servititude”.
Political correctness is driven by two things, group identity and the discounting of truth as valuable. Some groups are beyond criticism. Some truths cannot be said. Tinker explains how cultural (as opposed to political or economic) Marxism arose out of the Frankfurt school. Basically cultural Marxism believes that the major obstacle to the spread of Marxism was traditional Western culture with its Judaeo-Christian heritage.” That sexual repression is a main part of that culture and so sexual liberation from the patriarchal society is an essential. For `example Marcuse argued that all traditional values and sexual restraints should be thrown off in favour of “polymorphous perversity”.
The tactics used were to infiltrate the educational establishments, especially the Universities and to demonise all who oppose as ‘fascists’. This has been so successful that if you hold to any traditional form of morality, no matter how left-wing/liberal you are, you are automatically called a fascist. Such name calling means that there is no need to engage with the arguments. This is largely the standard of political discourse today. As Tinker puts it “Forget argument and reason, assume your opponent is just wrong or stupid (or both) and explain his ideas away by appealing to pseudoscience”
He ends the chapter by citing Os Guinness and his appeal for a Christian Renaissance. We need that plus a revival and a rebirth…especially when the church is far more influenced by the culture than we realize. The next chapter shows how that has happened in the area of sex and gender. We will turn to that in part 2.