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That Hideous Strength – Part 4 – Bringing Down Babel

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The final part of a four part review of a small but important book.

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

That Hideous Strength – Part 2 – The Gender Agenda

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

“At least five times the Faith has to all appearances gone to the dogs.  In each of these cases it was the dog that died.”  G K Chesterton

“Sometimes I think it is already too late.  At any rate, if by the mercy of God we are to have some further breathing space, if He goes grant us another chance to build up a new European civilization on the ruins of the old, facing all the possibility of an imminent end to all civilised life on this globe, Christianity has a tremendous responsibility” Emile Brunner

Tinker begins his final chapter with these two great quotes.  And then goes on to point out that whilst humanity always seek to bring God down, it is God who brings down the rulers and authorities and principalities.  In the Church we are not to adopt the methods of Babel – the latest marketing techniques and church growth indicators.  But neither are we to retreat into a nice sounding pietism – where we are doctrinally sound but culturally irrelevant.     Our hope in renewal is grounded in God, not in ourselves.

“Christians have to carefully navigate between the Scylla of dewy-eyed optimism and the Charybdis of faithless pessimism”

We are to commend God’s Truth, culturally engage and courageously refuse and refute.

Commend the Truth

In terms of the Truth we are to proclaim the One who IS the Truth – Jesus Christ – in his full divinity and humanity.   One of the side effects of the confusion about gender and humanity is confusion about the person and work of Christ.   We don’t negotiate Jesus and we don’t make up our own personal Jesus to suit the culture.

Culturally Engage

We need to have a cognitive and cultural resistance – but that can lead to an isolation from the culture where we think we are safe – but in reality the air that we breath infects us all.

On the other hand there is seduction of the church by culture – Tinker identifies four steps in this.  Assumption (it is assumed that a current cultural value is better than a biblical one; abandonment (leave whatever in the bible does not fit); adaptation (adapt the church to the prevailing culture) and assimilation (where the world just assimilates the church.  The tower of Babel is being built, the secularist are the architects and some church leaders and their advisors are the artisans.

Tinker then cites a lengthy quote from this article from yours truly on this blog –  The Lion has Whimpered

Over ten years ago when the whole SSM and homosexuality debate began in the C of S I got in enormous trouble and ‘hurt’ people for saying that the evangelicals were being suckered by the Establishment. The response was that this was a battle that they would win, that two evangelicals had been invited on to the panel to investigate the matter that an evangelical was going to become Moderator etc. But they were suckered. Big time. The evangelicals were never allowed to outnumber the liberals. The only reason they were invited on to these groups was to enable them to keep their fellow evangelicals in line. They were invited to the table but they were not allowed any say in the menu. They were outmanouvered every time by fine words, appeals to unity (and to pride), threats and empty promises of jam tomorrow. I have to say that from a liberal perspective it was a brilliant strategy that largely worked – mainly because the evangelicals were leaderless, clueless and blinded by a myopic fixation with what they hoped the Church of Scotland could be, not what it really is – (as well as a genuine concern for their own congregations). Most evangelicals stayed in, but not to fight. Now they have been reassimilated into the Establishment to such a degree that they are completely toothless.

Tinker suggests that what we need is cognitive and cultural negotiation where we hold fast to the faith once delivered, but we are flexible in how that is expressed….becoming all things to all men.

Courageous Refusal.

Citing C S Lewis’s essay “Christian Apologetics Today” he points out that we need to be courageously different from the culture – where the Gospel demands it.   Theological liberalism which accommodates the culture results in these liberal churches declining.

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it” G K Chesterton 

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This calls for joyful endurance and courageous refutation.    A great example of which was William Wilberforce, who knew that the only hope for the country depends on those who ‘in this degenerate age, love and obey the Gospel of Christ.”   He summarises Wilberforce’s apologetic work Real Christianity..  

“Wilberforce used both hands, the right hand of proclaiming the gospel, and the left hand of refuting present day ideas and values, using all the means at his disposal to effect change.  This took great courage.”

“Spinelessness has long been the mark of the true Evangelical, and we must expect that it will be just as much in evidence this time around as it has been in the past.”  Gerald Bray

Martin Luther King speaking of those church ministers who refused to speak out against the Vietnam war said:  “there is a time when silence is betrayal”.   We need to preach up and speak out.

Another author cited is James Davison Hunter who contends that the church should be less concerned about ceasing power through political means and instead should seek to be ‘faithfully present’.

We need faithful Christian communities that are a praying people, a literate leadership (biblically and culturally) and a changed community.

“If pastors do not know the culture in which the people live, move and have their being, they will not be able to minister to them effectively.  And if this doesn’t happen then there will be a disconnect between what is preached on Sunday and what is encountered on Monday”  Kevin Vanhoozer

Conclusion: 

downloadThat Hideous Strength small though it is, is my book of the year.   I would highly recommend it to every Christian and certainly every Christian leader should read and know it.  As David Wells says it is “a very brave, fine book written with keen insight”. 

I leave you with this quote from Os Guinness:

“The time has come to trust God, move out, sharing and demonstrating the good news, following his call and living out our callings in every area of our lives, and then leave the outcome to him” 

What a great rallying cry  for the church as we enter 2019 in the midst of a confused and increasingly dark culture!

Quantum 22 – 2018 – End of Year Review

 

 

 

 

13 comments

  1. Thank you for highlighting this book, David.

    “The time has come to trust God, move out, sharing and demonstrating the good news, following his call and living out our callings in every area of our lives, and then leave the outcome to him”

    I pray that our Lord will equip you with everything you need in your new calling in Australia, and that you will remain strong and wholly dependent on Him, and not your own wisdom and giftings, as you do his work.

    And can I ask that you, and you wide readership, pray also for your many brothers and sisters who are striving to live in obedience and follow God’s calling, which has placed us to work in the European Union institutions, which you seldom miss an opportunity to excoriate and attack.

    Grace and Peace

    1. Thanks Adam….I appreciate the comments – even the barbed one at the end! Although can I suggest its probably best not to exaggerate when you wish to constructively criticise. I don’t ‘seldom miss an opportunity to excoriate and attack’ the European Union institutions. In fact you will find that I rarely mention most of them – and many do an excellent work. You also need to learn to distinguish criticism of an organisation or institution and a personal attack on Christians (or others) who work in them. For example I think the House of Lords should be abolished but that does not mean that there are not Christians who are seeking to ‘live in obedience and follow God’s calling’. I think that Fife Council is inept, inefficient and corrupt – again there are still fine Christians who are seeking to live in obedience to Gods calling there. Your standard (don’t criticise an institution in which Christians are working because you are then criticising the calling of the Christians who are there – was that not your less than subtle point?) is of course unbiblical. There were many Christians who lived and worked in the ‘Babylon’ (Rome) that John so vehemently condemned in the book of Revelation. Was he wrong?

      1. Thanks David, I am familiar with your style from here and twitter, and I know you take great pains not to misrepresent people’s motives, although I have nowhere said that the EU’s institutions should be immune form criticism. For instance, the use of taxpayers money to fund crony activities of political parties is a disgrace (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/13/daniel-hannan-mep-group-told-to-repay-half-a-million-in-eu-funds). On the other hand, the European Parliament during the term of the current President, Antonio Tajani, has been willing to speak out for persecuted believers and raised the case of Asia Bibi, in a way that wasn’t the case before – incidentally, why won’t the UK government grant her and her family asylum?

        The challenge for all structures of government is to embody Romans 13 and not Revelation 13, and your criticism of the EU is a welcome change from the predominant English nationalism and exceptionalism of the ERG. I pray that you will be greatly used in Australia, which will have elections next year, and which has as toxic a political culture as any here in Europe, even Westminster.

        Ultimately our hope is not in this world but in King Jesus and his eternal reign and that he grants us freely to be heirs in that promise. Keep strong in Him and His truth.

      2. Thanks….I basically agree with all of that….The UK governments refusal to grant Asia Bibi asylum is a disgrace – something I have written about on here.

      3. As an aside, David, why would you like to see the House of Lords abolished? I’ve always valued it as a ‘checks & balances’ institution. I also believe it’s good that there’s a proportion of unelected people involved in government as they are less likely to have a party line to toe. From the parliament.uk website:

        “The House of Lords is the second chamber of the UK Parliament. It plays a vital role in making and shaping laws and checking and challenging the government; it shares this role with the House of Commons. The Lords has a reputation for thorough and detailed scrutiny.”

      4. OK, but I had expected you to see beyond its current weaknesses. I’ve always believed in the concept of heredity peerage for the reason I’ve already stated – that it brings a number of people into government who do not necessarily have an axe to grind, and can view the issues from a wider perspective. The corruption problems are temporary and should be sorted out, but surely not by abolishing it.

  2. I think if conservatives wish to win the argument on same sex marriage then they need to come up with better (or any) reasons why people should oppose same sex marriage. “I don’t like it” or “I think it isn’t sacred” are opinions, not reasons. Likewise “It can’t lead to reproduction” and “it’s unnatural” are not bars that are equally applied to gay and straight people.

    Same sex marriage has become accepted by society (and a small number of churches) not because the general public particularly care about gay rights, but because no alternatives were given by conservatives.

    It seems from these reviews that Tinker blames SSM for all of society’s problems. This just seems plain ridiculous to me, especially when he doesn’t offer any alternatives.

    1. No Tinker does not blame SSM for all society’s problems. Again you exaggerate (lie) without even having read the book. That is what is ridiculous.

      As is your claim that we offer no alternatives. We do. The biblical one. The teaching of Jesus – that marriage is between a man and a woman.

      1. I’m sorry if it’s an exaggeration to say that Tinker blames all of society’s problems on ssm. I was assuming this because all of your posts about his book have blamed ssm for society’s problems.

        OSM is not really a meaningful alternative for people who are not attracted to the opposite sex. I don’t want to criticise anyone else’s marriage, but mixed orientation marriages often lead to divorce, especially if both parties were not fully aware of what they were getting in for. I would think it’s very difficult to be married to someone who doesn’t love you. Such marriages seem to me to be more in opposition to the Adam and Eve template than ssm. But of course you will disagree with that!

      2. No – all of my posts about Tinker’s books do not blame SSM for societies problems…and your last paragraph is both ignorant and false. You’re done. I’ve been far too patient with you. I am not going to waste any more time, letting you clog up my blog page with lies, distortions and ignorance…Feel free to write your own comments and reviews elsewhere. I’m sorry that I have wasted so much time. No more. I hope that you will take some time to reflect and think about what is said. And I would also suggest praying….Happy New Year…and bye.

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