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That Hideous Strength – How the West Was Lost – Melvin Tinker Part 1

The cancer of cultural Marxism in the Church, the World and the Gospel of change.

download 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 51B6Vzy7QML._AC_US218_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.




That Hideous Strength – Part 2 – The Gender Agenda

That Hideous Strength – Part 3 – Barbarians Through the Gates – The Destruction of the Family

That Hideous Strength – Part 4 – Bringing Down Babel







  1. I struggle with cultural Marxism. Since I was brought up in it I was never really aware of it but now I see it everywhere. Which leaves me with two questions? Is it really everywhere or am I just a “flat earther” and slightly bonkers.

  2. Yes “discounting of truth” being a feature of common discourse now. So it’s not enough to speak truth but ones identity is taken into account. And if you are perceived as privileged in some way then that becomes a focus because how can someone who has been given privileges and who therefore is the oppressor in the oppressor / oppressed Marxist narrative be anything other than misusing power.

    The problem with the approach is that it sees things through the lens of dominance hierarchies. And if you are of a certain “group” and competent then that becomes of secondary significance in this world view. The irony is that if you add up all the minority and so called oppressed groups then it becomes the majority and therefore not in the minority.

    However what does happen is that there can be some challenges made within this ideology which can make us look carefully at how we come across and examine our own motives for what we are doing. Such self – reflection and willingness to be challenged is a good thing. Our horizons are broadened when our assumptions and preconceived ideas are met with other world views. Never a comfortable thing however with them being challenged.

    However – if opponents make ridiculous claims then that is nothing to be concerned about. They will be seen to be ridiculous as the truth emerges as it inevitably will and isn’t there that Psalm that talks about God laughing at his enemies?

    Nothing new under the sun and not dissimilar to what the apostle Paul called “light and momentary troubles”.

    I don’t know David if you have come in touch with what Jordan Peterson has talked of in his book with one of his “rules” – “tell the truth and if you can’t do that at least don’t lie”. His encouragement is to take courage to do so when it would be easier to go along with lied and not upset people’s feelings. And he talks of finding meaning in suffering as the method by which to alleviate suffering.

    Apologies if you have already covered this elsewhere.

    Seems like a good approach and if done in the power and love of God then how can finding such meaning and acting on it in spite of suffering fail?

  3. The trap for us all is to only see these things on the side one is personally against.
    Cultural *capitalism*, the gospel of “freedom” and “choice” to be exercised by unfettered individuals without moral or social restraint, the insistence that every relationship (especially of a sexual nature) is a transaction for the self’s gain, a deal to be won or lost, that responsibility to others is nothing against responsibility to the self; that every self should be able to take care of itself, or take the consequences uncomplainingly: this is the equal and opposite idol, and for most of my life we had clear examples of both to observe and avoid.
    My own Church was formed in the crucible of two violently contending religious extremes hoping to wipe one another off the face of the Earth: our Lord Himself had to deal between both Romans and Pharisees, without falling into the political grasp of either. The wise Christian will equally not become a party animal incapable of seeing virtue in one, or fault in the other. May the Shepherd direct us all on the one safe way without a perilous drift to either side.

  4. Slightly off-topic but since Rev’d Tinker is an Anglican minister, it fits here. This snippet from a news article was posted on another Christian site yesterday and it may be the best ever one-para summary of the reason for Anglican Church’s woes:


    “To the bemusement of Americans brought up with the separation of church and state, here in England, we have a state church: the Anglican Church of England. On the one hand, the church is a religious institution that spreads Christ’s gospel. On the other, it is a national institution that has diluted its religious teachings as it tries to hold the state together. The church could never adopt Christian pacifism, for example, because it is duty-bound to provide chaplains for the armed forces. If you want a church wedding, your local parish must marry you whatever your religious beliefs. You may worship the Jedi knights and your beloved may be a Satanist. No matter: as long as you are heterosexual English citizens, the national church must marry you.”



    Soon they will have to delete the word “heterosexual” from that para but everything else will still be accurate.

  5. David

    It may well be me but I’ve read this sentence a few times and I cannot get it to make sense. Thought you may want to give it another glance.

    ‘Tinker argues that communalism (where group rather than individual identity reign)…’

    1. John,
      Can’t remember. It was 5 years ago, probably about the time the i-generation were starting to come more to the fore, to be noisy. Why don’t you have a listen?
      But, if you are referring to David’s current review of the book above, and anticipating Part2, there is reference by Tinker to Marcuse about polyarmoury. and Part 1 makes it clear that Part2 will cover sex and gender.
      We’ll just have to wait and see.
      If you are John from Australia, as an atheist you may be interested in “The Coddling of the American Mind” by free speech campaigner, lawyer Greg Lukianoff and Social Pyschologist, prof Joathan Haidt (L&H). They are atheist who are deeply concerned about what they term, the “three great untruths” affecting and informing the attitudes and practices damaging universities, which have “devastating consequences for young people, the educational system and democracy itself.”
      I’d say it is educational marxism by any other name. And it’s secular.
      And there are references to Marcuse (M) and critiques of Marcuse 1965 Essay, ” Repressive Tolerance” (RT). Marcuse proposes replacing RT with “liberating tolerance” (LT) which means “intolerance against against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.”
      This was even though M recognised this was in opposition to the spirit of democracy and the liberal tradition of nondiscrimination . He advocated the use of “repression
      and indoctrination.”
      In the words of L&H; “In a chilling passage… M argued that true democracy might require denying basic rights to people who advocate for conservative causes, or for policies he viewed as aggressive or discriminatory, and that true freedom of thought might require professors to indoctrinate their students.”
      ‘d say this: secular utopia is secular dystopia. And it’s happening now, progressively so, by self proclaimed progressives, cultural marxists.

      1. I was hoping for someone to give me a two line definition. I don’t care enough to read two books.

  6. We also need to question the question and the questioner and to do so effectively we need to be trained to think clearly and logically. To do that we need to be taught. Go away and read this or that text and then come back with questions. It used to be called academic training in universities, not spoon feeding in the kindergarten. You are clearly past that stage. If you can’t be bothered, why should others answer.
    I had a law lecturer who maintained that a measure of intellectual attainment was in the study of subjects you don’t enjoy, or challenge your thinking.
    With apologies to Marx, the trope for today is not “wither the State”, but “wither the intellect, the challenge of thinking.”
    Let’s have a little thought experiment. You are given a topic to discuss at a university seminar: Cultural Maxism today. You turn up and ask, what is cultural marxism? In fact you don’t even turn up but tweet the question. What weight or significance should be given to the question?
    An example of cultural marxism in action today under the edicts of Marcuse has been evidence by the BBC radio 4 Women’s hour. All last week and this it has been hosting a series on “gender. and trans” Evidently, on Monday this week, Bex Stinson, head of trans equality, refused to appear in the studio with her interlocutor from the New Statesman, on the grounds that the debate (per se) was too toxic! Stonewall by name, marxist stonewalling by cultural strategy and tactic.
    There you have it: debate is not to be tolerated, countenanced.
    Who’d have thought it, the inclusive BBC, in name of the national interest , seeking, by open debate to leach toxicity over the airwaves.

  7. Melvin Tinker is Senior Minister of St. John, Newland, Hull. Other books from EP include What Do You Expect? : Ecclesiastes for Today, Salt, Light and Cities on Hills, A Lost God in a Lost World, Mass Destruction and Touchy Topics. He is married to Heather and has three grown up sons and seven grandchildren.

  8. We can take cultural Marxism too seriously. The old Marxism was dominated by materialism and had a built in determinism, arguably every bit as much as Calvinism (or the Anglican Articles) on predestination in salvation. The old Marxism has fallen and been exposed, in theory and practice, as unethical nonsense which is unworkable. Is cultural Marxism just a bit of a window dressed ‘relativism’?

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